Do Not Submit If It Does Not Fit

“It is better to say NO to an opportunity that is not the right fit, than to say YES for political reasons.”

Success breeds opportunity, but not every opportunity is the right fit. The ability to demonstrate competency and deliver results at one level does not guarantee success at the next. It is better to say NO to an opportunity that is not the right fit, than to say yes for political reasons. The following true story from my past clarifies the point. 

Several years ago, I worked for a regional manager named Robert.  He was the shining star of the company with responsibility for over 100 retail locations in the New England region.   He won numerous awards for his sales and profit results, and had a reputation for being highly competent.  Robert was approached by senior level management and asked to take over the Washington, DC region, which was known to be very difficult and had been underperforming for many years.  He accepted the position and relocated his family. 

Unfortunately, Robert was not a fit for the new assignment.  He did well in New England because he inherited a team of seasoned managers that needed minimal direction.  The DC region required someone who was skilled at turning around failing organizations and recruiting good managers.  Robert did not posses these skills and struggled to keep up.  He was eventually fired for poor performance. 

The added stress impacted his personal life and contributed to him getting divorced from his wife.  This is a sad example of what can happen when you fail to evaluate a potential opportunity to determine if it is a fit. There is one key to making sure that you don’t end up in a position that is not right for you. 

Know Yourself
American psychologist Abraham Maslow said: “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself."  The key to knowing yourself is to have a realistic picture of where you are. Recently, I had an experience in the mall that illustrates this point. 

I went to the mall last week in search of a gift for my young daughter.   I could not find the toy store so I went to the map at the center of the mall. On the map I saw in big letters “YOU ARE HERE”. I also saw that there was another store closer to me that sold toys than the one I originally planned to shop.  Based on where I was, this was a better fit for me.  This experience taught me that knowing where you are is essential to getting the opportunity that is the best fit for you. 

Knowing “where” you are is not just a reference to your physical location.  By where, I am referring to your personality as it relates to the potential opportunity.  For example, Type “A”, driver personalities don’t fit well in positions that require extensive research and data analysis.  Analytical personalities are not a natural fit for positions that involve leading large groups of people.  My supervisor Robert was an analytical personality type, which contributed to the challenges that I mentioned previously. 

If you do not know your personality type, resources like Wonderlic and Myers Briggs offer tests that can help you find out. They can also help you to identify opportunities that are the best fit based on your test results. 

By making sure potential opportunities are a fit for you BEFORE you say YES, you will maximize your time and minimize your stress.