Exuding Passion Through Persistence
My high school baseball coach, a legendary figure within the confines of Southern California prep baseball, had a fairly simple motto for his players to compete under: “find a way”. By preparing for all the nuances and details we could control, it was clear why the baseball program was among the most prized in the U.S. There was an intense tenacity in this “find a way” motto, behind an all- encompassing persistence in pursuing our goals.
In other words, persistence is a reflection of the significance of our goals. It was easy for our coach, for example, to separate players who could handle the persistence it took to be successful from those that used the program as a gateway for self-serving interests. If players were too individualistic, the persistence necessary to achieve collective goals would show on the field through dispassion and lack of preparation.
Soon after I gave up the game at the university level, I directly applied the “find a way” approach to a job with a best-selling author and investigative reporter-without possessing any journalistic background myself. After months of calling-a number that took excessive digging to find-without replies and cancelled meetings, I finally earned the opportunity to meet with the investigative team to prove if I had any useful assets to offer. Truth to be told, I didn’t, other than a general knowledge for politics, and passion for the issues and stories produced by the investigative journalist I sought to work for.
I stayed up through the middle of the night at the office, transcribing speeches and recordings for an upcoming clip on voting rights in the American south. The next morning, the investigative reporter, one I previously admired from afar, asked me to meet for him for coffee one on one. The first thing he told me: “We don’t take any journalism students here.” He went on to underscore why so few were able to work with the investigative team: persistence. It was easy to become passionate about the work the team did, but much harder to devote oneself to them entirely. That was, in essence, what was necessary. The months of calling, prodding and pushing my way in as an eighteen year old undergraduate was what impressed him.
I draw on the “find a way” approach daily. Sustaining passion is a necessary first step, but finding ways to persist amidst inevitable challenges and adversity along the way reflects a level of commitment many are unwilling to undertake. In this case and many others, it outweighs talent and experience. Employers value passion when it is battle tested- when one buys into broader goals beyond short-term, individual gains. The first step in this persistence comes in creating opportunities, not waiting for them. One’s passion is exuded when piled through a stack of CVs or an e-mail inbox. Rather, a determined proactivity signals a zeal that outshines beyond flashy accomplishments on paper.
So, when stuck in the unpredictable phase between education and career pursuits especially, we can remain hopeful in the opportunities we can create ourselves even when we may feel our skills are limited. In doing so, we can allow people to truly see and value the worth of our passion and long-term goals. In an age where it is increasingly easy to shortcut through technology, this gives us even further space to stand out. Initiating phone calls, meeting employers directly and doing so in a way that shows your passion and value for what their needs are can go a long way in ensuring that your career matches your ideal career.