It Starts With Courage

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

With appreciation to Lance Secretan.


I remember my first day of kindergarten many years ago at PS 90 in The Bronx, NY. My mother was an immigrant who spoke accented English, taking me to class two blocks from our apartment on The Grand Concourse. She and my teacher walked me to my desk and offered me the loveliest look that I could imagine. My mother told me that she would be back a little later to pick me up and that my teacher would be looking out for me.

After a while, I learned another lesson. The lesson was that if I were to succeed in school, my job was to shut up, do what I was told, regurgitate a bunch of things when I was told to do it . . . OR ELSE I wouldn’t get into a good college.

Some years later, I attended CCNY in Harlem. I attended my classes and lectures but quickly learned that the lesson of college I was being given was, “Shut up. Do what you are told. Regurgitate a bunch of stuff when we tell you OR ELSE,” I won’t get a good job.

And when I found my job in recruiting upon graduation, I learned a similar lesson– “Shut up. Do what you are told. Regurgitate a bunch of It Starts With Couragestuff when we tell you OR ELSE . . . “We’ll fire you! Is it any wonder that we live in times where people seem puzzled when they dedicate themselves to their employer, do their best and eventually are brought into a conference room and laid off. I have listened to many executives and staff alike lament about having done a great job and feeling betrayed.

“I did a great job!”

“My reviews were uniformly exceptional”

I keep hearing my own voice complaining about getting an B in a class when I thought I deserved an A. There was nothing I could say that would get the grade changed but I was seeking approval from an instructor who disagreed with my view of my work.

Yes, we all have bosses and teachers who evaluate our work. As a headhunter, I reported to the clients who paid me (and job hunters who didn’t pay me thought I reported to them), as well as to a business owner who demanded perfection from my work that was never achievable.

But the truth was I forgot the most important person who was part of my org structure.


You see, I fell prey to all the industrial conditioning I had received growing up wanting me to be “cooperative” or “a team player.” I lost track of myself with the push to be selfish in order to achieve sales goals (actual sales goals and, before that, grades).  I succumbed to the motivation (the external pressure to comply with institutions and systems that were making sausage) of the systems I lived and worked in and lost my inspiration (the internal desire, independent of external pressure for conformity).

I became a high achiever who really didn’t care but did great work. I became someone who kept looking for unique ways to do what I did differently than others yet still meet my performance goals.

I hated it because all I was doing was making “artisanal sausage” and not doing what I really wanted. Maybe that willingness to sacrifice is part of being adult. I just never really found the correct percentage of sacrifice vs. self-satisfaction.

I hope you have.

I was introduced to Lance Secretan and a model he has called, “The CASTLE® Principles










For a while, I wrestled with the idea of authenticity and truthfulness being redundant terms until I grew to see that authenticity was internal truthfulness or being genuine whereas truthfulness was how I might relate with the world at large.

However, as in the word, “Castle,” It truly does start with courage. It takes courage to face oneself and change.        It’s why I now coach instead of headhunt.

As a headhunter, I found too many instances where my truthfulness was encouraged to be compromised and, thus, my truthfulness disappear. It was hard to watch a large check evaporate into thin air after doing so much work.

I found not caring about the people I represented or my clients. The love was lost in what I did and in the people I was hired to serve.

As a result, my effectiveness started to wane, all because I lacked the courage to change.


It started with courage and the desire to live life on my terms according to these principles. I can help you, too.


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc. Asheville, NC  2017, 2023

Moving Ahead


People hire Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter to provide No BS Career Advice globally because he makes many things in peoples’ careers easier. Those things can involve job search, hiring more effectively, managing and leading better, career transition, as well as advice about resolving workplace issues. 

He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2700 episodes. 


You will find great info to help with your job search at my new site, ⁠⁠JobSearch.Community⁠⁠ Besides the video courses, books and guides, I answer questions from members daily about their job search. Leave job search questions and I will respond daily. Become an Insider+ member and you get everything you’d get as an Insider PLUS you can get me on Zoom calls to get questions answered. Become an Insider Premium member and we do individual and group coaching.

Also, subscribe to ⁠⁠ on YouTube and No BS Job Search Advice Radio, the #1 podcast for job search with more than 2700 episodes over 12+ Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music and almost anywhere you listen or watch podcasts.

You can also have your #jobsearchquestions answered Tuesdays at noon Eastern. Search for Career Coach Office Hours on LinkedIn and mark that you’re attending. You’ll have access to the recording if you miss it live. 

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