Sports Off-Campus / Job Search Lessons From Chariots of Fire

by | February 17, 2009

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Posted By Caroline Ceniza-Levine

Chariots of Fire is the story of two British runners in the 1924 Olympics (yes I know that’s a very simplistic plot summary for a movie with messages about culture, religion, competition and several much broader themes!).  I avoided watching it for the longest time because it beat out Raiders of the Lost Ark (one of my all-time favorites) for a number of Oscars.  Besides, I’m not a runner, and the movie takes place in the 20’s.  How interesting could it be?  Very interesting, in fact, and filled with a number of coaching lessons, not just for runners, but for jobseekers as well. 

Look forward, don’t look back.  Harold, the 100 meter runner, hires a trainer because he falls short at the finish and doesn’t know why.  His trainer shows him a video tape of the race, where Harold right near the finish looks back at his competition costing him few precious fractions of time.  You can’t press ahead at your goals while at the same time watching what everyone else is doing.  Yes, you need an understanding of the market landscape, just like a runner can’t just wander into other people’s lanes, but other than that keep the focus straight ahead at the goal.  Bonus point:  it’s very hard to take an objective view and see what you’re doing wrong; that’s why athletes and jobseekers hire coaches.

Stick to your values.  Eric, also a 100 meter runner, actually beats out Harold for the Olympic spot and then refuses to run because the race is on a Sunday (he is a Scottish missionary).  The British government pressures him, and he still won’t run.  As it turns out, a 400 meter runner gives up his spot so Eric can still represent at the Olympics and maintain the Sabbath.  There will be times in your career when you will feel like you need to do things a certain way in order to move ahead.  Some things may be negotiable but your values are not.  You don’t need to give up who you are to be successful.

Be yourself.  At the start of the 400 meter, Eric shakes hands with each of the competitors and introduces himself.  It’s natural for him but in the world of competitive sports it’s completely unexpected.  Then he leaves them in the dust with his superior running ability.  You don’t have to be aggressive or show a killer instinct, if your natural predisposition is to be sunny and warm.  Sure, some work environments will be competitive and will want to hire people in that mold.  So you may miss out on these spots.  But other environments will prefer warm and welcoming, and if you try to show off a competitive streak, you’ll miss out here.  Better to be who you are, and run the race your own way.

Sports On-Campus / Job Search Lessons from Nadal and Federer

Posted By Connie Thansoulis-Cerrachio

I’m a huge tennis fan – I played in high school and college and now I play whenever I can.  These days watching Rafa Nadal play Roger Federer is about as good as it gets.  Not long ago, Federer seemed unbeatable because his shots were so precise, so cool, so absolutely perfect.  But there was Rafa Nadal, constantly nipping at his heals, his passion and determination blazing forward so that you just knew it was a matter of time before Nadal caught up.  Here are the job lessons learned from Rafa’s technique (aka his quest).


Never give up:  Rafa believed in himself.  He knew it was just a matter of time before he beat Federer.  You must believe that you will succeed in this job market, even though you may think it’s a suspension of belief.  Visualize yourself interviewing well, networking well.  Visualize yourself receiving a verbal offer and accepting the offer.  Know it will happen and it will happen.


Constantly improve your game:  Rafa was the king of clay, but not of grass, and not of hard courts.  But he persevered until he was the master of all surfaces, because only then could he beat Federer.  So, if Career Services is giving an interview workshop:  attend, participate and master the process.  Get a group of your fellow students together and practice with each other.  You can Google “interview questions” and keep practicing and practicing until you master your craft!


Be modest:  Every time Nadal was beaten by Federer, he was incredibly gracious.  He always spoke highly of him, saying that he is number one, a great player, etc.  Compare that to Andy Roddick who after loosing to Roger was asked how he felt and responded “I want to punch him in the nose”.  Not anywhere near gracious!  So in your job search, don’t feel entitled, and that you are “owed” a job. Make sure you earn it with your unrelenting drive to excel at every step of the job search. 


Movies and sports imitate life.  Do not give up.  Master the things you need to master to win, and be modest along the way.  The job will come your way!


Filed Under: Job Search

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