Posted in Steadfast Spirit

What Is The Steadfast Spirit?

A successful career in Washington, D.C. will depend on two factors:

1.  Can you manage yourself?

2.  Can you create, manage, and maintain relationships?

Many of my blogs will provide tactical solutions to mastering these two factors, but at the core it all comes down to the steadfast spirit. The dictionary defines steadfast as firm in belief, determination, or adherence. Spirit is the force within a person that is believed to give the body life, energy, and power.

To me the steadfast spirit is the overall attitude and demeanor of a person that has embraced the practice of devoting themselves to a lifestyle, while taking faith in the outcome. Steadfast spirit is holistic, daily, and vital.

Can you manage yourself?
Someone with steadfast spirit finds balance within themselves. Humility is central to the steadfast spirit, but this is never confused for a lack of confidence. A person with steadfast spirit is aware of what they can and cannot control, but finds ways to influence situations others would leave to chance. They are organized and self-motivating.

Can you create, manage, and maintain relationships?
The steadfast spirit appears confident but not arrogant. It means to always be appreciative of others’ time and always make people feel important. A person with steadfast spirit is upfront about what they do not know but never waivers in asserting their ability to quickly learn new things and grow.

The person with steadfast spirit speaks to every person with respect. They speak with the janitor who takes out the trash and always treats the receptionist with courtesy and appreciation. They are easy to talk to and not judgmental. They understand rejection is a part of life and use it as motivation.

In practice the steadfast spirit is many things. In undergrad it is the person who finds balance between school and extra-curricular activities. They do not join seven clubs, they have leadership roles in two. They pick their friends wisely and keep negativity at a distance. They are aware of their limitations and seek the counsel of others often.
The steadfast spirit is strategic at all times. It means understanding the role and importance of a resume, it means knowing when to ask for a favor, and it also means knowing when a favor must be returned. It means looking at a contact as a lifetime connection not someone who can help right away.

It is the understanding that anything worth doing is worth doing right, even when it takes a long time. The steadfast spirit is getting coffee with 20 people before you meet someone in the right office and it can mean taking a few entry-level positions before landing the right job.

There is a payoff! I can confidently say the people in my life who have been living examples of the steadfast spirit are experiencing the payoff. It took 4-7 years in D.C. for many of us, before we finally broke into our fields, but we did it the right way!

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Posted in Steadfast Spirit

The 5 Things I Wish Someone Had Taught Me Before Starting a Career in Washington, D.C….

You’ve made it to Washington, D.C.!  You were going to launch the career of your dreams, find a life that has meaning, and change the world. You were going to move policy on Capitol Hill, keep the country you love safe by working in national security, save the environment, or simply help drive change that will make America a better place for the next generation….or at least that WAS the plan.

Maybe you can’t land a job at all, maybe you have a job but it really sucks, or like your job but is not in your field and you can’t help but wonder if you’ll ever get to do what you really want. Many feel lonely, many feel lost without a plan, and many feel like they simply can’t catch a break. I know exactly how you feel and it is the reason I started D.C. Hopefuls (for those new to our site I hope you click around after the article). D.C. Hopefuls is my attempt to help the hundreds of young aspirational professionals pouring into our nation’s capitol who simply need some help! I never had a mentor and I desperately needed guidance as I aimlessly wandered through the first five years in Washington, D.C. so this is my attempt to be to you what nobody was to me.

Check out below the 5 things I wish someone had taught me before I launched my career in Washington, D.C. CLICK HERE to receive the PDF version of the information below along with my Ultimate Guide To Washington, D.C.

1) Appearances Are NOT What They Seem
I am the senior intelligence analyst and a team manager on the lead 9/11 at the Military Commissions Defense Organization (MCDO). I am doing exactly the type of work I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve recently been promoted and reached my salary goal at age 30 that I had set for myself over eight years ago. Everything is going my way…..but appearances are not what they seem. My first five years in Washington, D.C. were a professional nightmare. I could not break into real national security no matter how hard I tried. Hundreds of job applications, hundreds of dollars spent on professional resume writers, job fairs, subscriptions to every job site, and even $65,000 in debt for a graduate degree, yet nothing worked.

I was brutal to myself. I had convinced myself that everyone else had it all figured out and there must be something wrong with me, but remember appearances are not what they seem. People in Washington, D.C. love to post their career accomplishments on LinkedIn or facebook. They’ll eagerly tell you about their amazing job and what they do. What they don’t openly tell the world is HOW….because the HOW is not sexy, it is not cool, and it is not something you post online.

At some point in 2012 I decided I was going to do something so simple that it felt revolutionary. I was going to talk to as many people as I could that I deemed successful in their career field (even if it wasn’t the field I wanted) and simply ask them HOW. I wanted to know how they got to where they were professionally. I spoke to dozens of people and was totally shocked by the similarities in all of their stories. These people weren’t randomly applying online, aimlessly writing cover letters, going to job fairs, or attending more school (except with precision focus on an exact outcome). These people all had built strong (surprisingly personal) professional networks. Through these networks they were offered amazing opportunities that the other 99% of us never knew existed. As mentioned earlier these stories were not glamorous, it was a lot of phone calls, coffees, and persistent emails. Also think about it this way, nobody who gets a job through a connection is going to post that type of thing online or share it with you at a happy hour. Some would rather you think they simply got it solely based on their credentials well most are great people who simply don’t see the value in offering up that information to most people.

It was from these amazing people and my thousands of life failures I developed the Steadfast Spirit and started down my path to success. Do NOT torment yourself; appearances are not what they seem.

2) Stop Applying Online
I wish someone would have smacked me across the head and screamed STOP APPLYING TO JOBS ONLINE! It doesn’t work and is a bad use of your time!

I landed my first job straight out of undergrad at the Air Force General Counsel. There I was this kid from Arkansas driving across country with everything I owned to work at the Pentagon and get my graduate degree in Washington, D.C.! Overall the job was a great experience and I made lifelong friends but the work was not related to national security and what I was studying. The position was part of a student program that began being cut just a few months after I started. I quickly started applying to jobs thinking I’d be able to get something better before the program dissolved. I applied to 120 jobs before getting my first interview, which never called me back.

I’ve read several places that 80% of jobs are not posted online. That might be high but I am confident over 80% are not truthfully posted. That means the jobs you want are not getting on job boards at all OR they are being posted to meet some internal requirement but they already have their exact candidate picked out. So when a job you would like does make it to the job board there is a good chance it is not real plus you are competing against hundreds of applicants. Check out this actual email I received in March 2013. Over 700 applicants, I stared at this email for what felt like hours and realized that day I was done applying online.

The problem is that applying to jobs feels good. You feel like you are doing something. I use to track all my applications and feel great about how I had applied to 10, 15, 25 jobs that month and it was simply a matter of time until I got some good news. This can be emotionally devastating as you begin to imagine and day dream about these new roles only to constantly be rejected by automated email, if you get any response at all!  Stop applying online constantly and begin focusing on what works.

3) Fix Your Resume
Every time I’ve spoken on campus I ask the group to raise their hand if they’ve ever studied for a test or wrote a paper and spent over 8 hours doing it. Every hand in the room goes up. I then do some pretty basic math and point out that even if that paper or test was 25% of their final grade it still was less than ½ of 1% of their final GPA. I then ask have any of them spent 8 hours or more on their resume? Often I a single hand does not go up. I was just like the hundreds of D.C. Hopefuls, I went to my career office, we worked on my resume a bit, and I thought I was done.

I wish someone would have explained the importance of a great resume. Not great because of amazing experiences but great because it is written in such a way that opens up networking opportunities. When I had finally developed the steadfast spirit I networked my way into an incredible meeting with a very well connected mover and shaker in Washington, D.C. We got along great (I had become a solid networker by this point) and he told me to go home and send my resume because he wanted to make a bunch of introductions for me. I was excited because I just paid a professional resume writer $550 to write me a great resume. I sent it to my new contact and he asked “what is this? Send me your actual resume.” I didn’t know what he meant so I sent my old one. A few days later he wrote back basically saying he wished me the best but he couldn’t pass along this resume. Resumes are how new contacts pass you around and the wrong resume will KILL opportunities.

4) Build a network
I wish someone had explained to me that your network is everything and without one you have nothing. I wish someone had told me to not be a hero. I was embarrassed that I landed my first job through a good friend. I felt guilty that he urged his bosses to hire me, prepped me for the interview, gave me tons of resume edits, and even let me stay with him when I came up for the interview. I convinced myself that I’d get the next job, my real job in my real field, all on my own. That somehow I’d be a hero by impressing total strangers with my application. I wish someone had told me how stupid I was behaving.

A network is the foundation of any successful career and your early years should be focused on building that foundation.

5) Pick Your Head UP and Stop Leaving Grease Stains
Finally I wish someone had said to pick your head up off the glass you are leaving a stain! Every day for over two years I took the same shuttle from Rosslyn to the Pentagon. There was an actual stain on the third row window on the right side of the bus because every day I literally could not keep my head up and would rest my forehead on the glass to and from work. Feeling sorry for yourself is going to get you nowhere! So if your head is down right now I’m telling you what someone should have told me…pick it up!!!

You have to start believing in yourself and remember that you are incredible. You wouldn’t have made it this far if you weren’t. The fact you are this far in an article like this tells me you are opening up to the steadfast spirit. You are realizing you need help, that getting help is a sign of strength not weakness, and you are ready to do what it takes. When you stop hiding behind a computer applying online and replace that sense of accomplishment with tracking real accomplishments, like building a professional network, your whole world changes.

In 2013 I had given up on national security but was just starting to put the steadfast spirit into play. I wanted to jump on a campaign but since it was an odd year only the Virginia governor’s race was an option. I was told I had no experience in politics and no chance of landing a job, but I landed one. After we won I was unemployed and getting married soon. When I picked up my mom from the airport the week of the wedding she began giving me a pep talk. She told me it was ok that I’d been out of work for 12 weeks and it would work out. I just grinned and said “thanks mom!”

I grinned because in those 12 weeks I had already landed 14 interviews. I had not applied to one announcement or wrote a single cover letter. What I did not tell her is I had actually turned down a few job offers the week before. As we drove the phone rang, it was a call I was pretty sure was coming, offering me an intelligence analyst position at the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. This was what I had been wanting for five years. I received this offer despite not having the necessary clearances, experience, and having never applied online.

In a twist of irony today I ride the very same shuttle this time from the Pentagon to Rosslyn every single day, but now there is definitely  no grease stain on the window!

The right resume and a strong professional network changed my life. It inspired me to start D.C. Hopefuls and it has changed the lives of dozens of people just like you!   If you are tired of feeling stuck, feeling alone, feeling like you are in city of your dreams but a million miles away from achieving your dreams then I urge you to join us at D.C. Hopefuls.

By signing up for the free newsletter you will stay up to date on all of our blogs, videos, and events. Click HERE to sign up today!

This post may have left you with a whole new set of questions. Is my resume great for networking, how do I make a great resume, how do I build a network, what if I don’t know anybody, how do I utilize my network once I build it, and where do I even start?  Luckily there is an answer to all these questions and more in D.C. Boot Camp. This 16 module online course walks you step-by-step from the beginning to the end. The result is the skillset to develop a great resume for networking, multiple great resumes for different situations, the skills and mindset to build a vast professional network, and the self-management skills to put all of this into practice for launching the career of your dreams.

The best news it is TOTALLY FREE for all new members of D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship. This community is comprised of people just like you striving to launch the career they have always wanted. They too have completed or are taking D.C. Boot Camp and they all realize the amazing value of this community. While it took guy like me hundreds of hours and years to develop a core group of people in my life (feedback friends) who I could lean on for support and guidance, D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship member get an instant network of 29+ people the MOMENT they sign up! I would have done anything for something like this when I was getting my career off the ground. Our online group offers each other support, guidance, insight, potential job opportunities, and feedback. We host monthly happy hours, support group sessions, and workshops (to improve resumes and practice networking)!

Is this community for you? Yes! Our members range from sophomores in college in the middle of the country to advanced professionals trying to break into their field. We did not attend ivy league schools, come from well connected/insider families, and not all of us made the best grades or had the best internships. We are people from all backgrounds at different points in our lives who are brave enough to come together in an attempt to master the mindset and skills to have the career we want!!!

Applying to join our community is easy but don’t take that to mean you should drag your feet. I’ve decided to close this community off to new applicants following the sign up of our 60th member and we are just at 30 as of today. Spaces are running out so do not drag your feet to change your life!

To learn more simply CLICK HERE.

To watch a 20 minute video about our community CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE…

If you ready to join just Click Here to Sign Up Now! And no matter what…stay steadfast!

 


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CLICK HERE to schedule a 30-minute conversation with me about your career aspirations, struggles, and/or questions

Posted in Steadfast Spirit

RISK

Risk was my favorite board game growing up; in fact, I still play it on my phone when I’m bored. The fact I love a game centered on world domination and now have a career in intelligence should probably be examined by a mental health professional. Joking aside, what drew me to the game was learning to balance information, patience, and risk taking. In almost every game I play online there are three types of players. Player 1 is over eager and takes way too many risks that offer little reward. Player 2 is so conservative that they last a long time in the game, but are never a threat to win. Player 3 always wins, because player 3 is willing to take calculated risks!

Anyone with a successful career in D.C. has taken some calculated risks along the way. You are not going to be handed a job by sitting on your couch applying online and taking no risks. Now the risks you take will not be life and death, most of them will simply be mental risks. Are you willing to be ignored? Are you willing to be rejected? I get ignored and rejected on a daily basis, whether at work or asking people to join D.C. Hopefuls. Being ignored and rejected still hurts, I hate it! Over time though I’ve learned not to dwell on it and use it as motivation.

Do not be like player 1 by obnoxiously asking for help or networking with no prior planning or thought. Player 1 is the person who calls me out of the blue and says ‘I hear you know about jobs and I’m looking.’

Do not be player 2 by sitting back and doing nothing. Player 2 is the person is an actual young person I met years ago and gave an hour of advice plus some extensive resume feedback to immediately after we spoke. A year or so later I reached out to him to tell him about D.C. Hopefuls and his response, despite the fact in that year he was still working at starbucks, was “I’ll check out the site but I don’t not want to get the newsletter, I get too many emails, but if you hear of any openings send them my way.” Player 2 is the type of person unwilling to move to D.C. until they find the “perfect job.” Player 2 lacks the vision to know when to take risk.

Be like player 3. Form relationships, be kind and take calculated risks. Player 3 is who I want you all to become. I want you to approach situations and people with professionalism and humility, while not taking rejection personally. I want you to have the confidence in yourself to take calculated risks and humility to ask for advice from others. Player 3 lands the short-term position that gets them to D.C. and bets on themselves that they can find something more permanent in 6 months. Player 3 puts their self out there to meet new people but does so with an eye towards developing a relationship not getting a quick fix.

Always ask yourself this question, ‘what is the worst that could happen?’ Four years ago I was sitting in a therapist’s office because I was lost. I HATED my job and could not get an interview anywhere. Everything I had done in my life up until that point seemed like a total waste. I will always remember my therapist pointing out the fact that I claimed to be miserable, yet there I was applying to jobs online from the safety of my living room. I was not taking any actual risks. I was player 2.

I tried to make excuses for avoiding the risks and explained that I had randomly emailed total strangers asking to talk, but they always ignored me. I had been player 1 and being burned so many times had made me player 2. My therapist helped me understand that the risk I was avoiding was due to my own ego. I was scared of being rejected or embarrassed. He then said something I’ll always treasure “would you rather be embarrassed for a few days or miserable/unfulfilled the rest of your life?” The answer was obvious, and I’ve never looked back!

Please join the D.C. Hopefuls Newsletter!
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CLICK HERE to schedule a 30-minute conversation with me about your career aspirations, struggles, and/or questions

Posted in Steadfast Spirit

Too Mean, Too Nice, Or Just Right…

Those of you who know me know how much I advocate developing the steadfast spirit. The steadfast spirit has no set definition but in this case it is the idea of humbling yourself to better yourself. This can be incredibly difficult on an emotional level but also on a strategic level. As we know networking is essential in building the right career but rarely will a normal contact tell you hard truths. That is why it is important to develop those few special relationships I call feedback friends . Those are the people who will tell you the truth even when it hurts.

After being at my first job in the Air Force for over 18 months it had become apparent my ‘guaranteed’ placement in the government was far from certain and I began networking hard. I had matured enough to start asking for ‘constructive feedback’ from any and all. One day I was able to meet with a high-ranking woman in the Air Force inside her large Pentagon office. We spoke for a few moments before she dropped the often-dreaded line ‘can I give you some honest feedback.’ Given my new sense of wanting all feedback I proclaimed ‘please!’ This woman proceeded to rip me to shreds for what felt like an eternity. She bashed me for using such responses as ‘yeah’ and ‘yes’ instead of yes mam; she lectured me on my poor posture; and criticized me for the fact I went by Tommy not Tom telling me it was ‘time to grow up.’ What hurt the most was she went on to explain to me that she had reached out to my boss prior to our meeting and my boss had also openly bashed me to pieces. She claimed I came in late and left early, was not professional, and avoided work. As I walked down the long Pentagon halls totally defeated holding back tears I began thinking strategic and rationally. I reminded myself I had recently received a performance award and bonus. I remembered all the great work I had done and countless emails I had received from others praising my work.

I quickly stopped feeling sorry for myself and sat down with my direct supervisor and explained to her what happened. She was very upset that our main boss, a woman who did not sit in our office and had interacted with me 5 times in two years, would talk about me in that manner. We spent the next several hours discussing each of the critiques I had received and where they may have originated. As we talked she admitted several had originated from her but it was never her intention to hurt my career she was looking for guidance on how to address the issues with me. We also realized that most of the issues were break downs in communications, for example she had no idea I stayed late most nights and came to the office on the weekends.

The takeaway lesson is to be tactful and strategic when it comes to eliciting feedback. The woman I met with was simply too mean. She knew very little about me and was obviously not someone willing to teach but rather simply criticize. Some of her points may have been valid but her delivery was so aggressive that it left me feeling horrible and defeated. My main boss was too concerned with being nice when in reality she was anything but nice. The ‘too nice’ people are usually selfish as they do not want to have any type of conversation that might be awkward for them despite the potential benefit for the other person.

The victory was the new relationship I molded with my direct supervisor; she became my feedback friend. She became a person willing to tell me hard truths but in ways that were constructive. We have stayed in touch and I let her know each time we talk how much I valued that relationship. So go out and find those feedback friends wherever you can but do not ask for feedback from the too nice and too mean people of the world.

Please join the D.C. Hopefuls Newsletter!
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Follow us on twitter at @dchopefuls
CLICK HERE to schedule a 30-minute conversation with me about your career aspirations, struggles, and/or questions

Posted in Steadfast Spirit

D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship Reminds Me of My Favorite Salad

When I moved to D.C. in 2009 I quickly discovered the most amazing thing on the planet. I discovered the chicken po’boy salad at Chopt. For those who don’t know Chopt is a chain that only serves salads and wraps at an absurd price that only big city snobs, like myself, would pay to eat. For nearly eight years I’ve been obsessed with this meal and often go to great efforts to obtain it. Chopt is very popular so I’ve spent countless hours waiting in line to obtain my po’boy salad. This may sound very shallow of me but I’ve noticed that almost all the people who eat at Chopt appear to be in relatively good shape. This has lead me to ponder ‘wouldn’t a salad place be filled with overweight people since they ‘really need’ to be eating salads.’ I know I sound like a total jerk, but the point holds value.

I had the same line of thinking when I launched D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship. I thought this new opportunity would attract the people who ‘really need it.’ I envisioned the person 4 years out of undergrad with their political science degree working at the mall desperately needing me to ‘turn them around.’ I thought of the college senior just weeks from graduation with no plan, a bad resume, and in desperate need of guidance.

I then started thinking of actual people I’ve interacted with the last two years. The people who were more than willing to let me spend hours reviewing their resume, giving them advice, and connecting them with my personal network only to never thank me or follow up with me again. I thought to myself ‘oh yeah these people really need the D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship.’

Throughout January and February of 2016 I spent 100+ hours creating, recording, and editing the first 15 modules for D.C. Boot Camp, the online crash course to Washington, D.C.. The modules walk you through how to understand, use, and create your own great resume and then become a master networker who no longer needs job boards or online applications. As I poured myself into these modules almost hourly I would think to myself ‘man this is going to turn their lives around.’

So when I opened my doors for business I didn’t see couch potatoes waddling in to get their salad, I saw tri-athletes and cyclists rush inside. Just in the first four months we saw three members of our group have landed jobs on Capitol Hill, a member got into a prestigious D.C. graduate school, another member has decided to enroll at a renowned law school, a member landed a job at the Department of Defense, one landed a job at Ameri-corps, while several others are making incredible professional contacts and personal strides. We’ve seen three members make it from the middle of the country to good paying professional jobs in D.C. and two others receive full rides to law school.

This is not to imply they were accepted into D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship and magically this happened for them. In fact most had these opportunities nailed down or at least lined up before joining our group. The point is the D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship continues to attract these types of applicants.

I can say with 100% certainty that every current D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship member is in a better position at their current age than I was at that age.

The overall eagerness, attitude, and spirit of our members has lead to inter-group networking, advice, and support that has been truly inspiring to watch. Yet I’m a little disappointed in myself for being so surprised. I learned a long time ago that successful people naturally end up together.

The 31 members of this group know the immeasurable value one can gain by surrounding yourself with successful people. They have each tasted failure, disappointment, and frustration and they all hated the taste! That is why they continually strive to learn more, connect more, share more, and grow more because they know they are far too young to be content.

You can’t reach a certain level of physical fitness then just start eating Taco Bell everyday; we all know what would happen. The same is true with your career; you have to keep eating that salad.

I recommend the chicken po’boy!

Click Here to Learn More on the D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship Page and how you can apply to be become a member…spots are limited!

Click Here to Watch a 20-Minute Video Explaining D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship

Posted in Steadfast Spirit

Recognizing Your Weakness is the Ultimate Sign of Strength: Get Help

One of the most vital things you can do to be successful is to be honest with yourself. For years I was not honest with myself. I was convinced I had done all the right things and it would all work out. I was convinced it was a numbers game and if I applied to 25, 50, 75, or 100 jobs eventually it would work out. I didn’t want to face the truth. The truth was my resume was hot garbage and I did not have an actual professional network. I had nothing but an expensive graduate degree and a job that was being taken away. I had no actual idea how Washington, D.C. worked.

I found my real strength through admitting my weakness. The first thing I realized was that my biggest weakness was not being capable of truly identifying my own weaknesses. What I did know was I was not getting my desired results so therefore I was doing something wrong although I wasn’t sure what. I learned to get help.

I had to learn to ask others for help knowing it would hurt and believe me it hurt. It hurt when people covered my resume in red or pointed out simple typos that had been on my resume for months. It hurt to reach out to people and get ignored. It hurt to take a job that I didn’t really want but it was my only realistic option. It hurt to have my work ridiculed and be talked down to on a daily basis. Yet, I persevered.

I learned to get the right type of help and feedback. I learned to lean on my feedback friends to let them tell me ‘that guys sounds like a total jerk, that is not constructive feedback that is him being an asshole’ or ‘that sounds like pretty solid advice, you can complain too much and it can be unprofessional.’ Over time it became much easier. Each time there was less red on my resume. Over time being ignored only encouraged me to stay persistent and forced me reevaluate how I was engaging people. I became a much better networker. Eventually I became more self-aware and began identifying my weaknesses quicker and turned them into strengths.

I was talking to my wife the other day and she said something incredibly profound. I was explaining how excited I was about the growth of D.C. Hopefuls and D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship , but how I was a bit surprised that not as many people who I’ve helped in the past or have been following D.C. Hopefuls from the beginning actually then joined D.C. Hopefuls Fellowship . It just seemed odd to me and I was trying to figure it out.

Then she said it. She said “Tommy they are going to have to fail and fail hard. You wouldn’t have joined something like this until you were 24. Nobody admits they need help until they have no more options.”

Asking for help from others is scary because it is admitting we don’t have all the answers. It is showing weakness, which is not something our culture allows. Like many things in our culture this makes no sense. I am 30 years old and I don’t have all the answers, if I did what would be the point of the next 35 years of my career? If you are still in your 20s you definitely don’t have all the answers and that is how it is suppose to be!

As someone who had to fail a thousand times before getting help I assure you it is not the right plan. My failed job searches and lack of a career plan began to put such a toll on me that I developed serious anxiety. It took me 8 months of nearly debilitating anxiety to come to terms (of course thanks to my wife) that I needed help from a professional to deal with my anxiety. Now I can’t even begin to understand why it took me so long and makes me sick I did not get help much earlier and save myself so much anxiety, literally.

My wife is a nurse anesthetist so she sees some pretty sad things on a daily basis. The stories that really upset me are the ones of a father of three who had all the symptoms but waited six months to see a doctor and now there is nothing they can do. The grandmother who hoped it would go away on its own and now is never leaving the hospital or the person too embarrassed to get tested and now has made other people very sick.

Pride is a truly dangerous thing. Getting help to improve your weaknesses is the greatest sign of strength I have ever seen. The most successful people I know refuse to fail. They do not refuse to fail by working 100-hour weeks or being cut throat, they refuse to fail by always seeking advice, guidance, and help from others.

So let me ask you this, why are you about to apply to 10 more jobs when you never heard back from the first 10? Why would you spend five more months trying to figure it out on your own when there are people who have already figured it out and can help you? Why are you already settling (giving up on your dreams) in your 20s?

Maybe you are like I use to be and applying to jobs in your room allows you the safe place to fail in private. Are you already settling because it is easier than admitting you need help? Are you like me and find it easier to blame the ‘system,’ the government, the economy, your parents, or friends rather than admit that is on you to make your life better?

I am FAR from perfect, but what I do get to do is wake up five days a week and go to a place where I know the work I’m doing matters and the work we are doing is historic. I am doing what I went to school to do. The thing I do to earn a living gives me meaning and challenges me intellectually. Why would YOU settle for anything short of what I have?

Asking for help is not always fun but it beats the hell out of giving up on your dreams…

If you don’t know where to start please send me an email at Tommy@dchopefuls.com and I can help point you in the right direction.

* Please join the D.C. Hopefuls Newsletter!
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CLICK HERE to schedule a 30-minute conversation with me about your    career aspirations, struggles, and/or questions

Posted in Steadfast Spirit

Your Career Path is like Losing Weight

I wasted the first 4-6 years of my career. I was like an overweight person who constantly talked about losing weight, but never did. My whole world was consumed by not liking the job I had and feeling as though D.C. was fixed. I believed that a guy like me couldn’t make it. I went out chasing the fads. Like a person who chases every new diet fad, weight loss pill, and crazy machine, I was looking for the quick and easy fix to launch my career. Eventually I met enough people and asked them the secret. The secret is there is no secret! You have to change your lifestyle and daily habits. Every day you have to eat right and exercise.


I went to every job site, I paid a company $500 to write the magic resume, I met with placement agencies, I took online classes, I did it all! It wasn’t until after all of that I realized that to get my career on the right path there was no magic fix. I was going to have to develop daily habits and have faith that if I lived the Steadfast Spirit doors would begin to fly open!

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