Only Three Feet From Gold—Keep Digging!

I have watched in awe as the job market has (finally) started to show signs of recovery. New opportunities are popping up everywhere, but even in the HCIT business there are still (some) really great people at a standstill while they search for their next assignment. Very painful. I recognize how frustrating this can be and want to share something that’s guided me through my own deep valleys in life.

For years, I kept a framed copy of a very famous quote from a former President of the United States of America on my desk. It read:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

— Calvin Coolidge

I still think about that famous quote, and how much those words have meant to me personally. It’s not rocket science, yet those simple words of wisdom have probably lit the candle of hope and inspiration for many people besides yours truly. In a nutshell, Coolidge’s message is that talent, genius and education will never take the place of raw determination. It’s that never-give-up attitude and persistence that helps solve major obstacles and problems. The flip side? To throw in the towel when things get tough or when you don’t succeed the first time – to simply “cut and run” – that’s easy. Anybody can quit. It’s the easy way out for many, but the situation rarely improves for quitters. Nope. And, it never will (as illustrated by this true story):

An uncle of R. U. Darby was caught by gold fever in the gold-rush days and went west to become rich! He went to work with pick and shovel. After weeks of labor, he found gold, but he needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. He quietly covered up the mine, retraced his footsteps back to Williamsburg, Maryland to tell his relatives and a few neighbors about the strike. They raised the money for the needed machinery, had it shipped west, and Darby and his uncle went back to work the mine.

The first car of ore was mined and shipped to a smelter. The returns proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts – the big profits would surely follow. Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of Darby and Uncle! Then something happened: the vein of gold ore disappeared. They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there! They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again – with no luck.

Ultimately, Darby and his uncle decided to quit. They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars and took the train back home. Some junk men are dumb, but not this one! He called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed because the owners weren’t familiar with fault lines. His calculations showed the vein would be just three feet from where the Darbys had stopped drilling, and that’s exactly where it was found! The “junk” man made millions of dollars from the gold rush because he knew to seek the opinion of an expert before quitting. He was right.

Keep pushing, keep networking and staying in touch with anyone you believe can help you find a great job (or a better one that the one you currently have). If you are spending 4-6 hours a day (full time) in search of a great job, the numbers are on your side, and eventually your efforts will pay off.

You, too may find that you’re just feet away from finding your own lucky strike!