I am not even finished with the book Burnout: The Secret of Solving the Stress Cycle and I’m already planning it as a topic in the Unstoppable Series for the “IT” Community (What? You haven’t joined yet? Sign up now. It’s free ya’ll).

The book’s subtitle: The Secret of Solving the Stress Cycle says it all. In the Unstoppable Event tentatively planned for March 2021 (see upcoming events below for what’s happening in Unstoppable between now and then) we will dig deep into stress, what it really is, strategies to move through it instead of letting it get stuck inside you leaving you exhausted and burnt out.

Today, I wanted to focus on one story the authors, twins sisters, by the way, told that I believe will help anyone who is feeling stuck in their job search.

The 🦉 and the 🧀

In a 2001 study by Friedman and Förster, 2 groups of college students were asked to complete paper mazes. One maze had a piece of cheese as the reward at the end of the maze. The other maze had an owl looking for its next mouse meal as a motivator. Both groups solved the mazes in similar time but the big game-changer game afterwards was when the students were asked to do a creative task. The group who had the cheese reward was twice as creative as those with the fear-creating Owl motivator.

What Does That Mean to Your Job Search?

This is not a surprise to me as a recruiter who has helped 1000’s of people navigate a successful job search. Though fear can be a motivator, I’ve always told my job search clients that it is better to be moving towards something versus running away from something.

Even if you hate your current job, your workplace is toxic or you know layoffs are imminent don’t stay in the angst, blame and anger energy that often comes with these situations. You need to create a state where you see the cheese and not the owl.

Instead try this: 

Step 1: Get Creative: What is your cheese?  Write out a short paragraph that describes where you want to end up. What is your end goal? Be specific.

  • What are you doing?
  • Where are you doing it?
  • What industry are you in?
  • What size organization?
  • What title do you have?
  • What salary are you making?
  • How many hours are you working?

Step 2: Use Positive Reappraisal:  Another term I learned in Burnout; Positive Reappraisal is to consider the Owl and then focus on the Cheese. It means looking at the negative situation, accepting it will be difficult and then affirming that the difficulty will result in positive opportunities.  That there is a likelihood of a positive outcome and it will be worth the challenges you will go through.

Step 3: Don’t Go It Alone:  As you begin to take action you may find that things start off great and then you stall. You feel fear and anger again. That is the Owl factor.  This is the time to get support. Talk with a friend. Reevaluate the steps you are taking towards your Cheese to see if a different path is necessary. Hire a career coach (I know a good one😊).

Stay InspiHERed,

CEO | Founder of InspiHER Tech, a Laso Company

P.S.  As a  member of the Executives’ Club of Chicago, I am able to offer a discount to their upcoming event, Roundtable Discussion:  Diversifying the Technology Talent Pipeline.  You will need to create a login/password on their website.  You can then enter the discount code TECHFRIEND at checkout and the event fee will be waived.  Go HERE for more information.


Get That Job By Saying Cheese


Get That Job By Saying Cheese

How to Solve Any Maze and How Did I Not Know This Sooner?


Get That Job By Saying Cheese