I’ve confessed before that I’m not a “glass is half empty” kind of guy. I’m a “glass is half empty and the part that is full is full of scorpions,” kind of guy.
Part of the reason I think that way is that people have often told me silly, empty little platitudes like “Turn a frown upside down!” Or “Let your smile be your umbrella.” And I feel like those cheesy, “go get em’ tiger!” sayings can’t possibly be true. Attitude and perception aren’t that important are they?
I didn’t think so until I met a 22-year-old college senior named Santiago who really challenged me. (He’s the same guy that inspired me to start seriously thinking about the importance of mobile apps.) One night at dinner I told him I’d been reading about how high unemployment was for college students. Some studies say that it’s the highest it’s been since World War II. Up to 20% of all college grads don’t have jobs.
Santiago smiled when I told him this and then replied,
“Sure. The unemployment rate is high. But even if it’s 20%, that just means you have to be in the top 80%.”
I love that philosophy.
Santiago wasn’t worried about the unemployment. He saw it as an opportunity. You can’t be a B-minus? That’s all it takes: top 80%. And if it gets higher, even better. If unemployment is 30%, you just have to be in the top 70%.
Now you can interpret that approach two ways:
1. Wow. That is a great way to perceive the challenge. Way to hustle!
2. That’s just an empty statement that doesn’t really mean anything.
Number 2 is cynical, but I understand it. It’s how I’ve approached life for years, but there’s a problem. Santiago isn’t just saying he’ll be in the top 80%. He’s hustling to make sure he is. He started his first business before he turned 10. He’s got one right now that is winning more clients than he knows what to do with. While other students are worried about the unemployment rate, he’s driving 90 miles each week to the biggest city near him to set up meetings and appointments. He’s going to be able to buy and sell me 10 times over by the time he’s 24.
I was initially going to title this post “Perception changes everything,” but it doesn’t. It’s only part of the equation. The full formula is “Perception and hustle change everything.”
Don’t believe me? Wait for somebody to give you a dream job. In the meantime, though, please know that Santiago will be making sure he’s in the top 80%.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?