If you are a high achiever looking for a position, take a good look at the Olympic athletes over the next couple of weeks. Even if you can’t clear a one-meter high hurdle, execute a perfect twisting dive, or do a flip on a 10.16 cm wide beam, you may have more in common than you think.
High achievers, in the workplace or in the Olympic stadium, share certain traits. They are driven to perform their best at their work—which is why they are at the top of their game. But when they are out of work, or out of a competition, they can be overtaken by a bad case of the blues.
After the closing ceremonies, sports psychologists say even gold winners can feel lost and de-energized. Yahoo sports writer Naete Sager notes that when the Olympics are over, the greatest challenge for athletes is to conquer post-Games depression that can take hold — and prompt many to stop training cold-turkey.
Former gold-winning rower Adam Kreek says it’s not unusual for high energy, super competitive and disciplined people to turn into couch potatoes. In his blog, Kreek writes, “Three weeks after the Olympic Games, an athlete’s conditioning usually drops fast. Athletes can only perform at 70% of their prior selves…. .”
At The Bagg Group, we have been matching top talent with full-time opportunities, contract work, and temporary placements for more than 40 years. For our candidates, work is interesting and a pleasure — the only thing that can defeat these high performers may be the down time in-between jobs.
Justin Menkes, author of Better Under Pressure, writes in the Harvard Business Review that for high achievers unemployment creates what psychologists refer to as a “temporary state of trauma to our psyche”. He explains that events, such as a job loss, can shake us to our core, upset our sense of identity, and leave us thinking that we are somehow to blame for a circumstance over which we had no control.
If you are a workplace athlete who is miserable about being out of the game, Menkes offers these three suggestions.
Acknowledge the trauma. It’s obvious to all when an Olympian hits a slump and gives up on training. When that happens, coaches, family and friends rally to help them to rev up to meet a new goal. But high achievers looking for work can miss out on getting the support they need as the people around them may be used to them flying on their own — and may be unaware that this time they are feeling deflated and need a shoulder.
At The Bagg Group, we can confirm from having successfully placed more than 58,000 people over four decades that everyone — without exception –needs understanding, support and encouragement during a job search. Talking it out with people who are close to you builds up strength.
Push yourself physically. Menkes writes that exercising hard is a powerful way to prove to ourselves that we can get through difficult moments, and come away feeling great. Plus, he says, we get a sense of control over our lives.
The author adds that for job hunters, exercise is especially good for remembering that we have it in us to keep going when the going gets tough — and that we can push through times that seem impossible to endure.
Make networking calls every day. That’s not easy for high achievers who are used to answering calls, not making them. But the experts at The Bagg Group agree that this is an activity, similar to putting another 50 pounds on a barbell, that may make you groan, but pays off. The best time to make the calls is typically at the start of the day when you’re in a vigorous frame of mind.
Remind yourself that this will pass. “It may feel like our unemployment will last forever, but inevitably, opportunity emerges when someone presses on and continues to fight for the right job,” writes Menkes. All of us at The Bagg Group confirm this to be true.
Long-distance swimmer Ryan Cochrane says of his attempt to bring home the gold from London, “It’s my race — there is no other one.” The words of this Canadian athlete apply also to those looking to win big in the job market — it’s your pursuit, with all of its ups and downs. And your achievement is in keeping with your pursuit until you land the job that’s right for you.