A friend's husband is a researcher.
His work relies on grants.
He spends a lot of time preparing grant applications, which demand adherence to precise rules and immoveable deadlines.
Some years back, after working on a grant for six months or so, he missed the submission deadline.
It wasn’t a car accident or earthquake or even a UFO, that caused him to drop the ball.
It was a simple miscalculation.
Six months of effort and millions of potential financing went down the drain.
Imagine missing all your college application deadlines, the tax deadline, your partner’s birthday, an anniversary…it was bad.
I asked my friend, “How is he?”
“He’s gotten over it, but when it happened, all he did for a week was
eat, sleep and watch the West Wing.”
“The West Wing?” I asked, to be sure I heard right.
“Yeah, I don’t get it either.” She said.
I hadn't thought about that conversation in 10 years...
until this week when Netflix dropped the West Wing in my recommendations.
I’ve seen it before, on DVD, so, it’s been a while.
I started season one, episode one and into the time machine I went.
It’s extremely well-written and often funny.
Suddenly, I knew why my friend’s husband turned to the West Wing for comfort.
Watching from the crazy scape we’re all marinating in now, three things emerged to reveal why it was such a big hit with working folks.
These three things can make your career a hit, too.
No one is alone.
The show focuses on the work lives and challenges faced by the senior White House staff, including the President. They’re accomplished and smart. There’s conflict, but they have each other’s backs. They’re all fighting the good fight. There’s a lot of trust.
Their work has real meaning for them.
That annihilates most of that soul-crushing pettiness that deadens us all. And this is the ringer and probably why my friend binge-watched for a week...
It's hopeful. They don’t always win, but they never give up hope.
Maybe you know someone who keeps working because they have to make living, but the part that makes them feel alive is long gone. That's how my friend's husband felt. Alone and hopeless.
The difficulty of most careers isn’t caused by ageism, career gaps, lack of education or the indignity of explaining yourself to some HR hack.
It’s that you’re usually doing it all alone. Which is mostly okay when things are going well.
Yet that makes it infinitely harder to keep perspective, make hard choices and not com