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Out Perform the Competition

There is a humorous scene in Charles Bukowski’s novel Factotum where the protagonist talks about how some jobs were so easy to get. For example, he walks into one office, slumps into a chair and when the manager asked what he wanted he yawned and said “Oh (explicative), I guess I need a job.” And the manager replied: “you’re hired!”

While Factotum is a work of fiction, a friend of mine who is pursuing a human resources career recently told me that she wants to stay away from the area of recruiting because it’s so hard to find good job candidates.

What!?

What about all the stuff we’ve been hearing for the last two decades regarding the “stiff competition” for jobs? Are all of these hotshot rivals I imagined, really only in my head?

Maybe the truth is somewhere in between, so it would behoove each of us to be the best we can be, not necessarily to beat out “the competition.” But rather to add to our own personal sense of accomplishment. As for me I always feel better when I know that I’ve put my best foot forward.

In his book Office Superman, Alan Axelrod, outlines strategies to help workers excel on the job. The book is based on the mythology of Superman, and since I’m not a fan of the comics or movies, I have to admit that while reading, I skipped around a lot trying to ferret out the advice. I found some pretty good stuff.

Superman only used the super power of flight with purpose, to get to a certain destination, explains Axelrod. Therefore the Business Week best-selling author says that before we take flight in our careers, we should first get a firm handle on where we are now. Take inventory by making a series of lists.

Axelrod suggests readers make eight lists which include our likes, our dislikes, external business resources and our business and professional liabilities.

These lists should reveal the distance between where you are now and where you want to go. “Superman could leap this in a single bound,” writes Axelrod. “You, however, need to determine what’s necessary to fill the gap or to bridge it.”

Notice when you’re looking within for answers, you’re not examining anyone else to determine what they have or have not. Rather, your aim is to discover your unique self—flaws and all. Then you are ready to soar. Axelrod suggests that we take flights of fancy, imagining what it would be like to reach our goals.

“Devote some serious time to visualizing your goal,” he writes. It is always easier to address issues and solve problems you can actually see. See them now.”

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