The Right Kind of Focus

There’s a general rule for life that I’ve learned: where you are doesn’t matter as much as what you do. Although...maybe you should listen to Obama about this instead:

      "I first ran for Congress in 1999, and I got beat. I just got whooped... Then for me to run and lose that bad, I was thinking maybe this isn't what I was cut out to do. I was forty years old, and I'd invested a lot of time and effort into something that didn't seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that I've felt stuck, is to remind myself that it's about the work. Because if you're worrying about yourself—if you're thinking: 'Am I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?' — then you're going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, you'll always have a path. There's always something to be done."

Just like almost all of your positions, your position in the workforce matters only so much. A low position might affect the category of work you do (as in you might not do the work exclusive to those in high positions), but it doesn’t constrain you from working hard. That is, your work can reflect more time and effort than those in higher positions than you. And people may notice.

As I write this blog post, BEAM is getting ready to hold interviews to fill the positions of the next school year. My advice (which applies to a wide array of circumstances, by the way) is to remember that the positions you grasp don’t really count as much as what you do with your position. I know this from personal experience; in fact, I think my lack of a high position might’ve kept me from being complacent.

If someone of a leadership position does not produce meaningful work, all they would have on a resume is a fancy title. They wouldn’t be able to grow a lot from their experience or elaborate about the position to future employers. They might also, of course, get replaced.

Obama and I want you to know: if you keep your mind off of the position you’re in and onto the work you can do, you will be resilient.

Chase Robbins