How many of you have taken on temporary jobs, despite suspicions that you may be viewed as a disposable resource - a number, not a person?
How many of you have relied on the kindness of friends and second-cousins to let you couch surf in their living rooms when you didn't have your own digs to call home?
And how many of you have been doubted, underestimated and written off - only to seize what's seemingly your last opportunity to break through - and make a slam dunk? (We’re talking about flat-out posterizing…)
We see the job data, and we read your email; both are chock full of stories of struggle and “I got hired” tales - so we know that a lot of you can answer a resounding "yes" to the first two questions. And hopefully - yesterday, today or tomorrow - you could or can answer "yes" to the third question, too.
NBA baller Jeremy Lin can now answer "yes" to all three questions. He bounced around the job market. He crashed on a teammate’s couch. And then he blew the heck up.
The Google-trending, Chinese-American point guard for the New York Knicks has a story that transcends sports. After playing college hoops at Harvard and not getting drafted, he managed to fight and claw his way to the last seat on the bench for a few NBA squads, only to be released again and again. Then after his most recent game of human hot potato, Lin ended up on the injury-ravaged Knicks - a team in the No. 1 media market known for high expectations and low production. Patrick Ewing is so 1985.
The Knicks were on the verge of another stinker of a season. Both of the team’s multimillion-dollar superstars were out of the line-up. Then Lin got the start. The Knicks won eight of their last nine games. And the rest is history, spelled out in the headlines of New York tabloids with plenty of cheesy Lin puns that we don’t need to revisit here. Lin leads the league in points since starting; he’s scoring more than Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. Hear him talk once, and you’ll realize he leads the league in humility, too.
Take some motivation from Lin, the guy who Tebow’d Tebow from Underdog of the Year consideration. After his most recent victory over Dallas, the defending champs, Lin told a reporter: "There were nights last year where I was just reduced to tears. I just couldn't take it anymore...
“Last year, I was trying not to make mistakes, I was trying to fit in. This year...I was going to do it my way... If I was going to go down, I was going to go down fighting."
If you’re thinking this guy is an NBA star who can fall back on a Harvard education. He’s going to make millions. I’m just trying to make the rent… That true. But remember the couch he called home mere days ago.
(Granted the NBA league minimum salary, which Lin makes, is exponentially higher than the minimum wage -or salaries in general- throughout the rest of the country. Lin’s struggles aren’t the same as yours or mine, but it doesn’t mean we can’t draw inspiration from his underdog story.)
More to muse…
Lin isn’t the first future member of the rich and famous set to ride an underdog story to the top:
- “Seinfeld” and “Curb your enthusiasm” creator Larry David famously talked about walking through the streets of New York picking out the best bridges to sleep under when his fledgling stand-up comedy career was on the brink of failure and the pantry was bare.
- “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling was living on welfare while suffering from depression when she wrote her first book. Today she’s worth more than $1 billion.
So if you’re in your 37th week of looking for a new job, take a break. Sit on your couch (or the couch of someone supportive) and clear your head. Give yourself the gift of a fresh start – it’s something you need to do for yourself before someone else extends the same. And once you get your big break, be sure to share your story.