I was talking to a fellow colleague recently, and he told a story about how he landed a job for which he didn’t even yet meet the qualifications. He applied on a whim out of sheer desperation, as he was jobless and had a growing family to support. Much to his surprise, he got an interview and an almost immediate offer thereafter. He didn’t fully understand what had happened until several months down the road. He learned well after the fact that someone at his new place of employment had remembered him from a connection years prior. He had been working as a Teaching Assistant at a local university, and she had called to express frustrations about the instructor for whom he was working. They had a ten minute phone conversation that he could barely remember years later. But apparently that ten minute conversation had been so comforting to the woman he now worked with, she had convinced the leader of her team he was a worthy hire – even without the proper credentials in place yet.
What happened thereafter is that this individual was hired, he quickly proved himself to his peers, and he was on the track for promotions and many other professional accolades. Not only that, he confessed that he may have in fact landed himself in the most perfect place to match his professional skills and interests. When he was in the midst of his job search, he had applied for other jobs that were a better match, at least on paper, and had been outright rejected without so much as an interview. He was grateful in retrospect for those rejections, because he could not imagine being any more passionate or fulfilled than he was at his current job.
There were many things that struck me about his story. Certainly, there are lessons in karma and even the law of attraction in there, if you are into those sorts of things. But on a more practical level, this occurred to me: Every little thing we do matters. I would say this is true personally and professionally, and this man’s story is a prime example. An interaction he had years prior – an interaction where he had nothing to gain and nothing to prove – would catapult him into a perfect opportunity years later. What if he had been hurried, dismissive, impatient or even distracted during that ten minute phone call? The trajectory of his life could have changed.
It’s a lot of pressure to assume that every little thing matters, and yet it is not. As my very wise friend recently pointed out, it is the difference between resolution and habit. Good professionalism is a habit. My advice to you is this: Be kind. Be patient. Be flexible. Be helpful. Be courteous. And if you can’t do all that, take pause until you can. You just never know how your choices will come back to you. Your consistently pleasant disposition may be the best insurance policy of all for your future.