The Mmm...Letter
The Mmm...letter Podcast
The Zone of Give-Upness™

The Zone of Give-Upness™

And How to Find The Wellspring of Serendipitous Potential™

Last week, the OnDeck organization announced a restructuring; looking for the buried lede? Mass layoffs.

Several of OnDeck’s former members and staff read this column. And if they’re anything like me, they are reeling from their loss.

These souls, like the tens of thousands relieved from their responsibilities in the past quarter, were ladled into an overflowing pot: the job market is brimming with talent, yet lacking in opportunity.

The folks at OnDeck have been really good to me, and I hope that with my words, I can return the favor during these trying times.

So here goes.


Last week, you began the same journey I did in June as a cautiously optimistic, unemployed professional. But between you and me, you’re better off.

Your resume probably reads like a steady ascendance of steps up a career ladder that reinforces your skillset, whereas my resume reads like the lunch menu at The Cheesecake Factory. You got me beat on specialization, but in case you’re still struggling a few months down the line, here’s something you may find helpful.

I’ve learned that the more I pursue something, the harder I try, the less I get. For a while there’s no progress, I may even fall backward. And around that point, I start to lose hope. That’s when I enter: The Zone of Give-Upness™.

Funny enough, in the zone of give-upness is precisely where something great happens, something I fail to anticipate. And I doubt the zone works exclusively for me.

I believe the zone works because our desires turn into thirsty clamoring for specific outcomes, and those desires inhibit our discipline.

Racing toward the next job right after your previous one is like telling yourself, “starting today, I must score a three-point shot.” But the three-pointer is among the most difficult shots in basketball, and you’re out of practice.

You grab your ball and throw boulders, missing 99 out of every 100. Soon, you begin taking fewer shots. Then you start skipping Mondays, then Tuesdays, then all days.

It’s a predictable path, and here’s how you got there: you were so caught up hitting the three-pointer that you failed to do everything else required of on-court greatness: you never exercised, you never dribbled, you never practiced layups, passes, rebounds, or defense – all you did was throw three-pointers because that’s all you thought mattered.

And now you’re in the zone of give up-ness; thankfully, that can be a good thing.

What’s great about being in the zone is that as long as you still have faith in yourself, you can begin to focus on the other elements of your game. Deep down, you still want to play basketball, just as you want to contribute to a meaningful organization regardless of how many rejections you face.

You stop mashing the apply button and start reading, upskilling, opening yourself to new opportunities, and becoming a better professional.

And that is why in the deepest, darkest corners of the Zone of Give-Upness™, you may discover The Wellspring of Serendipitous Potential™.

The Wellspring presents itself exclusively to those who refuse to be claimed by despair, who continue to believe in themselves despite the mounting odds, and who can, above all else, relax.

I gave up learning a satisfying skill in college, then found software.

I gave up my acting career, then found new ways to entertain.

I gave up on finding “the one,” then found my wife.

So if you’re still struggling two, three, or even six months from now, take a deep breath, forget about the points, and start focusing on the game.

And when you land that next job, email me so I can send you my bill.

P.S. is it legal to write ™ if you haven’t actually trademarked something? Asking for a friend

The Mmm...Letter
The Mmm...letter Podcast
This audio column explores the intersection of culture, business, and morality. But mostly fart poop jokes. Welcome.
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Stanley Bogode