Fall down seven times, stand up eight

Welcome to Quarantine 15: a spot of joy in your inbox on work, life, and navigating the start of 2021. In case we haven’t met, I’m Nikki Gusz, a co-founder of Lloyd, a career GPS for young professionals. You can follow me on Twitter @nkgusz or subscribe to this email newsletter here.


Today, around here you’ll find:

(1) A little reflection on the week

(2) A selection of stories on perseverance

(3) A treat (or two!) from me

(4) A list of answers

(1) A little reflection on the week

For me, it’s the time of year those shiny resolutions can start to show some wear or maybe even start gathering dust. This week, we’re featuring three stories of perseverance (with a little editorializing—it’s the weekend). They each provide perspective on a challenging situation—but what is even more inspiring, is each of the stories involves people who are making headlines today. It’s a good reminder for me that it’s easy to obsess about the success, and we quickly forget that most of us had many challenges to reach our destination (and in the case of these individuals, many more challenges beyond those listed here). Today, we investigate more on the challenges, so that we can better understand the perseverance and success.

(2) A selection of stories on perseverance

We’ve kept the stories here anonymous in their telling. The purpose is that each of us can likely see a little bit of ourselves in one or many of the tales below (it’s also a quick test of your newsy-ness). Owners and further details are included at the close, because these divas (hint, hint) deserve all their hard earned credit.

How do you deal with a breakup?

As an 18 year-old going through the end of a relationship, one has many options on how to respond.

Call a friend?

Get some chocolate?

Watch a good movie?

Or, you can also go to the school computer lab, and with the blinking light of the screen as your companion, start writing out your life goals on a spreadsheet. This said spreadsheet (now in Excel) is still used to this day.

While this might sound overwhelming to some of us (life plan at 18?!), what I love about this is that the entries on the spreadsheet don’t have to stay the same, but they can serve as guideposts. And moreover, creating this type of process can serve as a regular check-in see where you’re at and where you want to head.

What to do you when you’re seen as the +1? Or, just too short?

We’ve all had the friend or partner who is a bit shinier or more successful. You love them, but sometimes being seen as the +1, or as academics cruelly call it, “the trailing spouse” . . . is not fun. If that wasn’t bad enough, imagine also being denied tenure and being dismissed from a role (when it was even rumored to be in part due to a short height).

Yet, through hard work and showing up, this individual reached never before achieved accomplishments.

This story proves that challenges in early acts don’t necessarily predict doom. In fact, they probably provide wisdom for later obstacles. And on that dual career relationship—the partner got a Nobel Prize, but this person was recently dubbed the only “triple crown” of economics (we can thank a Hamilton-inspired song for that title—link below). So, seems like it can work out.

What to do when your ideas are constantly rejected?

Many of us have had the big idea the boss blocks. It’s tough when you feel energized about a new opportunity or possible discovery, but to then face constant dismissals regarding it at every turn. This seems especially true after moving across an ocean (while hiding your savings in a teddy bear) to pursue research dreams. Yet, research proposals continue to be denied, and even a demotion is in the mix. What to do?

Again, a willingness to stick with it—in spite of these failures—led to scientific discoveries, in this case regarding mRNA. Thanks to tenacity of this researcher and her commitment to saving lives during the deadly pandemic, the world has COVID-19 vaccines.

Not only were they developed in record time, months vs. years, they were celebrated with a bag of Goobers, the researcher’s favorite candy. I endorse the approach that with our accomplishments, we need to step back and give ourselves a little kudos.

(3) A treat (or two!) from me

Due to popularity, we’re bringing a few treats back!

(1) A quick reminder: join us this week on January 28th for an event on how to build habits in uncertain times. Speakers will include a behavior / habits researcher, a wellness startup CEO, a professor who studies sleep, and an Olympian coach / former Chicago Bulls trainer.

(2) Sign up for office hours with me this week to discuss a career topic on your mind.

(4) A list of the story answers

Who are these determined women? Check them out below—and consider how we can learn from their stories about the power of perseverance.

Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight, Fair Count, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project

Janet Yellen, nominee for Treasury Secretary, the height story, but more importantly her new song

Katalin Karikó, senior vice president of BioNTech (partner in the Pfizer vaccine)