So you think times are tough do you? Almost 10% of the United States is currently unemployed, corporate downsizing persists and half of your friends are struggling to keep their homes from being foreclosed by the banks. Natural and manmade disasters continue to reap economic havoc on the country and the stock market bounces daily with the uncertainty of a 25 cent, gumball machine yoyo. Did I miss anything?

Perhaps you recently graduated college only to discover that there are no jobs in your field of study. Or, your career path of 10 plus years has been ‘realigned’, which meant eliminated along with 50% of your pay and your current vision of the executive office and the house on the beach. You may have been one of the many laid off for various reasons and struggling with job searches and heavy competition. Or maybe things are going well for you professionally but have simply stagnated. Economic conditions have created a status quo and you feel yourself in a rut with nothing really getting worse, but not really improving either.

You are certainly not alone, but the real question is what are you doing about it right now? Today? Are you throwing a pity party or are you focused on reinventing yourself? Having a hard time separating from the results of the recent past? Thinking it’s too tough? Afraid of the unknown? Of failure?

Enter one of the most colorful characters from American History and his amazing career makeover at a time when most “Wild West” stories ended in tragedy. William Bartholomiew Masterson, known to history as “Bat” Masterson legendary lawman and gunslinger of the Old West, lived from 1853-1921. It was one of the most violent time periods in American History that spanned the Civil War, where a good third of the United States was still unsettled and the average lifespan was about 40 years.

19th Century Lawman, William “Bat” Masterson

Most western legends died in poverty, prison or in a final demise by their enemies at an early age. Masterson lived to be 67, a successful sports journalist/newspaper editor and a beloved citizen of New York City. By the late 1880’s, Masterson had lost reelection as sheriff of Ford County, been associated with some unfortunate gun battles and even arrested and fled town. Talk about going from “hero to zero”…but Masterson most likely didn’t see it that way. The ways of the Old West were becoming extinct as was the role of the gunslinger and he somehow tuned into that inevitability.

Embracing new skills in writing and aligning himself with a battlefield of a different kind, the boxing arena, Masterson moved to New York and invented; Bat Masterson, Sports Journalist. Ultimately, it was that reinvented Masterson that had the greatest success and made the most contribution to society.

Transformed to 20th Century Sports Journalist

You will probably find more if you dig deep enough, but here are 7 lessons to take away from Bat Masterson’s professional makeover;

  1. Think two steps ahead, be brutally honest:Economic Darwinism exists, industries, companies and jobs wane or become extinct. Circumstance can bring you to a career impasse or it simply wasn’t meant to be your thing. It’s ok, what matters is that you honestly look ahead and know when it’s time to move on.
  2. Use past experience as a tool, not a prison:Avoid getting locked into what was or what should have been. Absorb the useful lessons and skills of the past and apply them to today for your future. Masterson played off of his slightly exaggerated gunslinger legend to open new career doors, write stories and even do some merchandising.
  3. New Venues:Sometimes you just need a change of place, a clean slate. That doesn’t mean run away to a new city every time things get tough. Masterson himself had a rough start his first few years in NYC, being arrested on weak allegations. It simply means that a new venue can open new opportunities, spark ideas.
  4. New Skills:Try new things. You never know what could result in a lifelong interest or a door to new career opportunities. Author Brian Tracy says, “Most people are only one skill away from doubling their income”. For Bat Masterson, his interest in sports and his hobby of writing resulted in a new career. Even better, neither required getting shot at…
  5. New People: Don’t be hesitant to meet new people. Ideas, interests, opportunities and lifelong friends can result from it.
  6. Be Open-minded:Nothing will ever improve if you do not let go and give it full effort. It’s tough because you feel very vunerable, but if you keep your mind open to new ideas you will be surprised how many opportunities come your way. Masterson had to have been pretty open-minded to let go of his gunslinger legend and not take it so seriously.
  7. Have patience:Reinventing yourself can take time, stay the course and have patience. Most success stories you hear have abridged timelines, Masterson wandered the west for over ten years between his sheriff days and settling in New York. That time is often critical in developing those new skills, relationships and mindsets necessary for a career makeover.

Now…Go out and start reinventing yourself!

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