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A very accomplished friend of mine recently applied for a lofty job in China. The recruiter immediately called him back, but upon learning that he is not a native of Beijing (where the job would be located), they pestered him about his qualification for the job. The problem is, the kind of candidate they want does not exist. They want somebody who is a graduate of top business school (my friend came from HBS), who has background in finance (was an ex-banker), consulting (was an ex-McKinsey), and the Internet space (currently running strategy for a Silicon Valley web company) AND a Beijing Native.
The truth is, somebody who is a Beijing Native with my friend’s resume would be running one of the ministries in China. As they say, there are bigger fish to fry than running a company.
My take-away from my friend’s experience is this: It is ok to shoot for the moon. But if you can’t get there, one must quickly realize the circumstance and know when to settle for good enough! This goes for everything we do in our lives. It’s good to have BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals), but one must be cognizant of the reality one faces. Don’t live in cloud nine or your environment will eat your lunch (and dinner)!