I lost a tennis match the other day and quite frankly, it was a match I should have won easily.
After reflecting on the match for a few days, I had an epiphany.
Instead of playing to my core strengths, I was trying way too hard to be someone I simply was not.
I’m a good tennis player who can hit and return competitively. My fast and powerful serve is without question my greatest strength as I can win a lot of points without having to try too hard.
But I’m not Andre Agassi nor am I Pete Sampras and in the pressure of the match, I got way too overconfident! I was trying to hit shots I was simply not prepared nor qualified to hit. Trick shots, power shots, over-the-head lobs, spin serves and on and on. In my attempt to win, I appeared completely inept. What was I trying to prove? What mental games were allowing me to sabotage my core strengths that could help me win?
Tied 1 set apiece, I was now losing 5 games to 1 – one game away from losing the match. I was about as frustrated and angry with my playing as I’d ever been.
If I relaxed and got my 1st serve in consistently, I felt I could win my service games. If I took my time and kept a good rhythmic volley, than I could force the odds that my competitor would make an error.
I needed to rely on the strengths I felt most confident about but the real key to catching up was to change the pace. Slow my game down a bit and be in better control. Concentrate on not always slamming the ball and winning the point, but play quality shots and keep the ball in play to allow for my opponent to make mistakes.
Before I knew it, I was only two points away from tying my opponent.
I wish I could say that the ending had a happy result, but unfortunately, I ended up losing the next two points, the game and the tennis match.
As disappointing as it was, it taught me an important lesson that I believe is relevant to job seeking.
ALWAYS PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS
Apply for jobs where you feel strongly that your skills, backgrounds, talents and accomplishments are a match. The more relevant your strengths are to the job you are applying the more likely you will be rewarded with a job offer.
DON’T LET MIND GAMES SABOTAGE YOUR JOB SEARCH
If you keep focused on the goal and keep your confidence level high, you’ll be successful; even lost points or lost games won’t rattle you. You can take it in stride, learn from what you did wrong and apply it to your next opportunity. But you have to be YOU! You are unique and have differentiating talents that define you. Always play to your strengths and success you are seeking will follow on YOUR terms.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND REVIEW YOUR STRATEGY
If you have been looking for a job for a while, don’t hesitate to step back and revisit your job seeking strategy. Are you really playing to your strengths? Are you applying for jobs where the job description is relevant to your skills and abilities? Take a deep breath and ask a trusted friend or mentor to review your resumes and cover letters. Ask them to give you an honest assessment of your job-search strategy.
CHANGE THE PACE
Instead of sending out dozens of resumes to random job postings, slow down a bit and spend more time on quality resumes and cover letters that are tailored to your strengths. Add some variety to your job search efforts like cold-calling companies, networking with peers or reaching out to folks on LinkedIn. There’s a lot of different and effective ways that can help strengthen your job search.
DON’T ALWAYS GO FOR THE OVERHEAD SLAM
In other words, that first interview is a ‘get-to-know-you’ interview. Like any relationship, it takes a while for the comfort level to blossom. Never walk into an interview with a sense of desperation or appearing overly eager. Let your confidence in your strengths, your accomplishments, skills and talents be your guiding light and people will respond positively.