I’m writing this near a hideaway campground I found near Capitol Reef National Park. I took a few days off this last week, not just physically but mentally as well — something I haven’t done in six months and something I think I have never actually done well.
So, I am nostalgic. Bear with me.
Someone I highly respect said once that as you get older you start experiencing what he calls “long days and short years.”
I am starting to understand some of that.
I wonder if this same sentiment is echoed in Robert Frosts’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening where he laments how many miles to go he has before he sleeps, and in Five for Fighting’s “100 Years” (YouTube) remarking how he is chasing the years of his life and speaking back to his fifteen-year old self telling him he’s got plenty of time ahead.
And I am reading Four Hour Workweek for the first time (yes, late bloomer, I know) and considering his admonition that we should take Fridays off, even if we “work” but focus on self-work or learning new things, and that compressing our work is better for us than relentlessly trying to hustle for more, more, more and more.
So, as I pack up to take my remote trailer office home today, I am pondering the value of just unplugging and letting things that I have built on over weeks and months and years “fend for themselves” for a few days.
And nothing blew up — that I know of.
And I am fresher and more excited about the good things I need/get to do.
And I am also more keenly aware of the endless loops I get myself into where there is a lot of hustle but no production — a lot of noise but little signal.
And a resolve to do better about breaking that cycle. Now.
Partly by forcing myself to waste some hours in the week. On purpose. So I can ALIGN myself better with what I want to DO, which I am decoupling from (and still appreciating the overlap in) what I do for money.
*The debate in the comments to this tweet point to the idea this sentiment was previously noted by the late Amos Tvsersky, whose Nobel-prize winning work I love, though I admit I like Shane’s packaging better.
Here on the corner of my computer screen, I have a little piece of a sticky note with the following on it:
Interested > Interesting
Meaning, being interested is better than being interesting. And, if you’re in the people business, or have any personal relationships that are important to you, this is good advice.
It comes from Mark Goulston, Author of Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.
This is a great book and, for me, has been instrumental in me trying to really deepen some personal relationships as well as going farther to develop connection with the people I work with, both as candidates, hiring managers and as just other great humans I want to know better.
The whole book is interesting. Mark, who trains hostage negotiators, opens the book with a pretty intense confrontation between a man threatening to commit suicide in a mall parking lot. You see two kinds of negotiations take place. The “Hey, you’re in big trouble so put the gun down” kind that we see on TV and a much different approach that diffuses the situation and brings a peaceful resolution — listening.
One challenge I admit that I have in listening better is, well, asking questions. It sounds funny, but I sometimes get stuck just knowing what I should be asking someone!
So, from my notebook to yours, here are some fantastic tips you should hold on to. Let me know how it goes? I am definitely curious! ?
Great Questions You Can Ask Anyone To Show You Are Interested
“What are you trying to accomplish that’s important to you in your career (business, life, etc.)?” ￼
“Why is that important to you?” ￼
“If you were to accomplish that, what would it mean to you and what would it enable you to do?”
In personal relationships—for instance, at a party or on a first date—questions like these can often trigger a heartfelt response: ￼
“What’s the best (or worst) part of (coaching your kid’s soccer team, being away from home, etc.)?” ￼
“What person has had the biggest influence on your life?” ￼
“Is that the person you’re most grateful to? If not, who is?” ￼
“Did you ever get a chance to thank that individual?” (If the person asks, “Why are you asking these questions?,” you can say: “I find giving people the chance to talk about who they’re grateful to brings out the best in them.”) ￼
Mark goes on to talk about how he tries to get people to respond to questions that include how they feel, what they think and what they did or would do. He mentions in passing that you can use the initials of those phrases, FTD, and the name of the popular fast florist delivery company of the same initials as a way to remember the formula.
“I know that when people ask me questions that generate all three of these answers, I feel known by them in ways that I usually don’t if we’re talking exclusively about what we feel or what we think or what we did or would do.,“ Mark continues.
He finishes with these sage words that I am trying to take to heart day by day.
Much of who we are is composed of what we feel, think, and do, so when we’re in conversations where we get to express all three, we feel more satisfied. Eventually, one of your questions will click and you’ll see the person lean forward eagerly to tell you something with enthusiasm or intensity. When that happens, do the right thing: Shut up. Listen. Listen some more. And then, once the person reaches a stopping point, ask another question that proves that you heard (and care about) what the person said.”
Try this tip out and let me know how it goes!
Read The Book:
Editor’s Note: The links to Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston in this article reference Amazon.com with an affiliate code. Using this link helps to support our services. However, if you’d prefer to go directly to the book page on Amazon, this link is affiliate free !
I have a mug that says this on the side in cute, right-aligned, lower case serif letters:
let the adventure begin
The alignment, the blatant disregard for conventional spacing, capital letters and punctuation give it a playfulness I love and I find makes my heart smile a little each time I read it.
Does ‘work’ feel adventurous to you?
In a small way, isn’t this what work could feel like, too? I can hear the voices of droning mall-store bosses lecturing well-rehearsed ted-talks on the merits of hard work and thats-whats-wrong-with-your-generation speeches, but aside from all of those sounds, let’s just ponder for a moment.
What if work actually did feel adventurous?
I think, if you look around at the people you admire in your field*, the ones who make it look effortless, I think you will find one thing they have in common is, almost a sense of wonder that they get to do what they do and, perhaps, a sense of awe as if the things that seem to just “go right” for them, they never would have expected.
*Side note: If you don’t see anyone in your field you admire, that might be your sign ?
Now Is the Best Time to Have an Adventure
The world is freaking out right now, and, well, they should be. There are some seismic shifts happening in the world today.
But you don’t have to freak out and wring your hands
Let me show you why:
As I write this, the world is trying to re-awaken economically from the COVID—19 pandemic. We still don’t know what will happen and, in the United States, with official unemployment numbers topping 14% (as of May 8, 2020), people estimating the real number is much higher and could climb as high as 25% before this is said and done, there is a lot to be mindful about. The first part of that is it means we are undergoing a once-a-century forced reset of how our economy works at all.
Many of the great companies of our time have come about during times of economic downturns. Facebook, Microsoft, Disney, Trader Joe’s… its a long list. And, look, you don’t have to be the next Warren Buffett to see an opportunity to work on something you feel passionate about and, since some of the people you trust to work with you are also out of work, why not!?
Passion Doesn’t Mean Travel OR Entrepreneurship. It Means Being On Purpose
Don’t get me wrong, there’s something deceptively alluring to packing your bags and moving to Taiwan for a year and hoping everything works out financially, but you don’t have to start a company or go traveling the world to match your work with your passions.
If you can choose, purposefully, the things you will do and will not do in your life from this day forward, you will have a singular advantage over every other person working for a buck in the world who does whatever they’re told, won’t say no, then complains to everyone about how their life feels soul-sucking and useless.
Your advantage? You will be doing things on purpose.
But—that doesn’t mean glamorous, either.
But it does mean actively choosing.
I know plenty of people who purposefully do very difficult things today so they don’t have to do those things forever.
I also know several who gladly give up certain perks and benefits of a cushy white collar lifestyle so they can have other things more important to them, like family time or being able to volunteer when and where they want.
So… What Do You Love?
For me, this question surfaced recently in a raw and powerful way. I made the choice in 2005 to fully dive into recruiting as a way of life and I have not looked back.
Now, 15 years and recruiting for fantastic companies and meeting thousands of incredible humans later, I find myself asking what is next? The next job req? The next placement? Those things still bring passion and fire in my belly, but I find myself scratching at something more… something just beyond that which I still have not quite uncovered but it has me, and this is critical—
I realized that I have mastered a series of recruiting behaviors in my career that can both help anyone become a master recruiter and can help any recruiting team do their best at keeping hiring more human, solving the problems of bias in their workplaces, being more inclusive, and welcoming.
Finally, I realized that my true passions lie around recruitment automation and helping companies minimize the processes that computers can do and instead maximize the things humans are best at doing.
All of these things do not take me away from recruiting, and I will never stop having candidate conversations as often as I can to fill those interesting roles, but I do think I can have even more excitement in my work as I follow these paths to more adventurous outcomes than simply keyword searching for candidates and repetitively busting out linkedin messages will get me.
These are the things I love… now your turn
Perhaps you need to take a walk or a hike, sit on a mountain or in a quiet room and think about the things you want and the things you love.
How can you marry those things with the things you do? When you step back, what is it about the things you get very excited about which you can replicate? Is it process management? The chance to be creative? Closing a deal? Seeing the balance sheet work out perfectly? Consider these signals and follow them closely.
Follow my lead and work to proactively choose to say YES to the things on your list of things you love and NO to the things you don’t.
Write down your things. Each time you feel you are forced to sacrifice one of your long-term loves because of a short-term necessity, write it don on a sheet you can recall. Go back in a month, three months or six months. Have things changed? Ask for them to change again and see what happens.
If you consciously push on these boundaries of things you’re asked to do versus things you love doing, and do this for five years straight, you will be living a MUCH DIFFERENT LIFE than you are now.
Which is good, since the world has changed, too.
— Written by Robert Merrill 5/18/2020 from near Salt Lake City, Utah #blog #askrobertmerrill