So many assume. So little know.
The one sure way to make yourself miserable in this business is to compare your journey with the journey of others. I can speak with authority on this subject because I have done far too much of it in my career.
If you are in TV news you are likely a driven and competitive person who sets big goals and has high expectations. Those are all qualities that will help you be successful, but they are also qualities that have the potential to mess with your head.
When you start out, you have a goal of where you are going to be when. Maybe you plan to be in a top 10 market by 30. Maybe you have goals that have to do with salary or status in a newsroom. What you don’t realize at the time is a lot of that is out of your control. Opportunity has to line up with timing and your skill set, and sometimes that doesn’t happen as quickly as you would like it to.
That’s when you start looking at other people. “THAT person is way less qualified than I am and got a job in a bigger market!”…”She only got that job because she’s HOT.”…”He only got that job because he worked with the assistant news director 5 years ago.”…
You feel sorry for yourself and you get bitter about your inability to reach the goals you set for yourself. The problem is, you really do not know what that other person’s journey is actually all about. You assume you do. You look at the surface and you make a judgement, but you don’t really know.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me I am a woman in sports so my path must’ve been “E-Z.” Without getting into details, I can tell you that hasn’t been the case. If I simply wrote out my path, without you knowing my gender, I think you would find it to be pretty typical of a hardworking sports anchor in a top 25 market. There was some struggle to move up, some unemployment along the way and a few lucky breaks. All that being said, there were people, even in my newsroom, who didn’t think I had earned my way there because of the assumptions.
I make the mistake too. I look at news bios and try to find out how old someone is and try to see where the person worked prior to the network job so I can decide whether I feel the person “paid his dues.” I make these judgements having no idea how hard the person works or what they went through to achieve success. I don’t even know if that person has the job they really want in the first place. All I know is that I wanted the job and they have it, so I am upset about it.
I’m in no way saying everyone who gets a job is hardworking and completely qualified to be there. We all know that’s not true! All I am saying is, most of the time, you don’t truly know.
Learn to step back and think about what facts you know before judging the path of others. Realize someone has and will judge you based on what they assume they know. Understand we all have a unique journey that includes its share of good breaks and bad luck.
Once you learn to do this you will find yourself with far fewer moments of angst and more energy to simply focus on your journey and how you can make it better.