I recently interviewed NYT best selling author Neil Pasricha for an upcoming episode of The New Leader podcast (stay tuned!). He’s a great guy with so much insight to share, this time on failure and how to bounce back. I won’t spoil the episode, but I will share a story that that changed his career trajectory – and may change your’s, too.
While studying at Harvard, he encountered the dean on campus one day who inquired about how things were going. Neil relayed that he was feeling the pressure of not only constant study, but also having to contend with blue chip company recruiters visiting campus, scouting for talent. He didn’t think he had a shot getting hired with any of them.
That’s when the dean suggested he find a smaller pond.
His lesson was this: so often we are small fish in a big pond, struggling to get ahead and impress, when the best thing we can do is find a smaller pond. Be the big fish elsewhere. Find a company that really needs your talents, where you will stretch far more than ever before and have more lasting impact.
In Neil’s case, he took on a role at Walmart that allowed him to have access to projects at senior levels (when he was only 26). He was the only person with a masters degree out of 1200 head office staff; finding a smaller pond allowed him to develop and change his career forever.
If you are not sure what your next career move is, seriously consider the dean’s advice. Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. It may lead you to a whole new world.