If I had one wish that could be fulfilled by every job candidate I see, it’s that he or she would want to earn a million dollars a year, plus bonuses. I’ve asked lots of other business owners and they seem to agree that there’s one quality sorely missing from job seekers. That quality is ambition.
Given that my company is based in the US and specifically in Southern California, once home to the most ambitious people in the world – people who rode to the Western frontier with nothing more than a cow and a shotgun (okay, maybe they had some pots and salted pork rinds) – the paucity of ambition is particularly puzzling.
Not to say all job candidates are slackers, although a slacker often comes cloaked in a job seeker’s persona. This is typically a person who’s not all that uncomfortable living in the suburban ranch style home of now ancient parental Yuppies, and occupying a twin bed below a shelf littered with beanie babies, a Rubik’s cube and a Game Boy.
But, slackers aren’t the real problem. After all like most executives I still have enough papers to scan to fill up a terabyte or two of data storage and a number of other mind-numbing tasks perfect for a worker who is mysteriously satisfied if ear buds can be worn on the job.
The job candidates who confound me are people who expect to work for the majority of their lives. These are the student loan burdened and club going, or those with two kids, a bad marriage, mortgage and a master’s degree in something vaguely therapeutic. Meaning, these people all have debts to pay and modest Ketel One or kettle bell dreams to fulfill.
Why do they see the finish line so near? Why is it enough to end their run with the middle of the pack in a 5K? Why are we seeing so few people who are the type to claim the top podium spot in the Ironman world championship – or at least to die or cry trying?
Is it all those “special someone” days in elementary school? Is it the T-ball “tournaments” when everyone got a trophy for showing up?
Is it the legion of greedy, secretive corporate and investment fiends who haven’t just purloined our country’s wealth but made it all but impossible to believe there are still roads to success unblocked by the divine rights of the 1%?
Are pub-crawls and outlet malls setting a new low for what people aspire to have and to hold?
Tell me you expect to earn a million dollars, and I will eagerly ask you not only how, but also how I can help you. Business owners everywhere need big thinkers, heavy hitters, people who play through pain and know there’s gore in glory.
Ambition. It’s the other way to work.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen