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From "Good to Great": How a roadside epiphany is transforming this Executive Recruiter

The word “should” implies responsibility. It connotes demand, and that's just not the case. Life has a rhythm, it ebbs and flows. My failures haven't been failures so to speak, I just haven't been as good as I needed to be. I may not have specific control over my situation, but I have a choice about how I view it.

If I continue to do things the way I've always done them, I am not going to generate as much revenue this year as I did in 2007 and 2008. My kids, my family, my boss, my bills...they're not going away. I'm still responsible to and for them, yet...I've carried this enormous sense of guilt that I wasn't doing enough. Shouldn't I be inspired by those most important to me? I was beating myself up thinking that I was less of a person because they weren't ample inspiration for me to get off my butt and deliver. I'd feed my head with all of these positive mental vitamins on the way into the office, yet drive home feeling like I'd let everyone of them down. I got caught up in the blame game, though I wasn't pointing the finger at anyone but myself.

I was driving into work a few days later and listened to a podcast of The New Man, hosted by Tripp Lanier. His guest was Shawn Phillips, author of Strength for Life. The following question was brought up by Shawn when discussing motivation: "How do you feel the ground when the world is turned upside down?" Tripp and Shawn went on for a moment discussing Jim Collins' book From Good to Great, and how it fit into personal transformation. I'm a big believer in how God communicates to me, so when I heard Shawn say that I can't hate myself forward, I knew I better pull over and start taking notes.

Now, negative reinforcement, discipline and will-power will get you ten to fourteen days of motivation at best. This number applies to both external and internal motivating forces. It's possible to "hate" yourself into action, but impossible to sustain that momentum for any period of time longer than that. A great example is someone who may take pictures of themselves before beginning a strength training regimen. Those brutally honest moments of being naked with yourself often stir up negative emotions, dwelling on everything that is wrong with you. I knew that I'd have to take the foot off my own throat a little bit if I were to capitalize on my frustration.

Rather than hating myself forward, embrace what gets me moving. What is it that I do daily that allows me to feel strong? When it comes to real transformation I need to get rid of the "have-to's", the "shoulda's" and focus on the "want-to's". What activities in my career are in service of that thought?

I was trying to obligate myself into being properly motivated, when I needed to find the joy and pleasure in my career again. It wasn't going to matter what got me started, but the idea that I could guilt myself into “great” couldn’t carry me for long. What's joyful or pleasurable in my life (career) and what am I merely tolerating? I wrote the following words down: Mastery, control, confidence, clarity and began focusing on what activities are in service of that thought.

I revisited the book "Good to Great", and while Collin's focus is on what drives corporations to transform, stagnate, or regress, I wanted to individualize it. What points did he make that I can draw on in my transformation from a good recruiter to a great one? I found the following seven points to be extremely valuable in my ongoing transformation from good-to-great:

1-Ten out of eleven good-to-great company leaders or CEOs came from the inside. They were not outsiders hired in to ‘save' the company. They were either people who worked many years at the company or were members of the family that owned the company.

Outstanding! This means no one is going to save my ass but myself. The good news is that I have almost 10 years with the same organization, which happens to be a family-owned company. I've determined I am in the right place.

2-Good-to-great companies focus on what not to do and what they should stop doing.

Isn't this exactly what Shawn and Tripp were referring to? I know what my personal metrics are supposed to be. I know what has worked for me in the past. But how much time have I spent reflecting on things that take away from my strengths? In Marcus Buckingham's "The Truth About You ", he makes the point that trying to fix my weaknesses will only take me from mediocre to serviceable. I know what I'm good at, stop spending time doing things that are taking away from my strengths! Now we're getting somewhere.

3-Good-to-great companies paid little attention to managing change or motivating people. Under the right conditions, these problems naturally go away. Greatness is not a function of circumstance; it is clearly a matter of conscious choice.

You mean I get to decide to be great? That market timing, serendipity or DFL (all things that a strong economy seemingly provides) didn't make me great? Hmm....rather than acting like a cheerleader at work, maybe the right game plan, one that I can execute, will get me there. A plan that removes things that are not in service of my core values.

4-Every good-to-great company had “Level 5” leadership during pivotal transition years (and I believe this is one for ours). Level 5 is the Executive who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. Level 5 leaders display a compelling modesty, are self-effacing and understated. In contrast, two thirds of the comparison companies had leaders (Levels 1-4) with gargantuan personal egos that contributed to the demise or continued mediocrity of the company.

This point really hit home. Do I see myself in a situation where I have level 5 leadership available to me, or that capability within myself? If I'm frustrated by my current leadership, can I be the change that I seek? Do I have the professional will to drive myself into the greatest vision I can create, or will I let my ego contribute to my own mediocrity? Sounded like I better infuse a little humility into my good to great transformation. I needed to get clear about what actions are in service of mastery, control, confidence and clarity.

5- Good-to-great management teams consist of people who debate vigorously in search of the best answers, yet who unify behind decisions, regardless of parochial interests.

Am I thoroughly thinking through what the best solutions are, or am I merely settling for what has worked for me in the past? Desperate times require desperate measures, where everything on the table is to be scrutinized.

6-Whether someone is the right person has more to do with character and innate capabilities than specific knowledge, skills or experience. This, Collins' refers to the Hedgehog Concept. It is a concept that flows from the deep understanding about the intersection of the following three circles:

What you can be best in the world at, realistically, and what you cannot be best in the world at? For me the answer is that I can be the best at helping my clients hire "top employees" rather than vetting top candidates. I can be the best at partnering with my client base, determining what their real job needs are. I cannot be the best at spending the most time in the office as that takes away from me as an integral person.
What drives your economic engine? What drives my economic engine is performing activities that are in service of business development. I need more time out in the field rather than administrative duties.
What you are deeply passionate about? I am deeply passionate about helping people grow further, not only in their career, but as individuals. I like coaching people, even since I was a kid coaching recreation league teams; I get off on that "A-ha" moment in peoples faces.
The author then states to discover your core values and purpose beyond simply making money (where's my next deal coming from) and combine this with the dynamic of preserving the core values to stimulate progress. Collins uses Disney as an example. They have evolved from making short animated films, to feature length films, to theme parks, to cruises, but their core values of providing happiness to young and old remains strong.

7-Enduring, great companies don't exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders. In a truly great company, profits and cash flow are absolutely essential for life, but they are not the very point of life.

I discussed this in a blog two weeks ago, using money to help people, rather than using people to make money. Enduring, great recruiters don't exist merely to deliver top employees to organizations. In a truly great recruiter, commissions are absolutely essential for life, but they are not the very point of life-your core values and purpose are.

"If you're doing something you care deeply about and if you believe in it, it's impossible to imagine not trying to make it great."-Jim Collins

Views: 22

Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on April 30, 2009 at 2:30pm
I love when the universe or God sends you a message exactly when you need it. Good post and I find it particularly relevant after a long week and an even longer job history that has made me doubt at times if I am really a good recruiter. I found this most insightful: "I can be the best at partnering with my client base, determining what their real job needs are. I cannot be the best at spending the most time in the office as that takes away from me as an integral person." It's about working smarter and listening to the demands and meeting them, not whittling away your nerves in a desperate attempt to be the best at doing the most work. Thanks, Chris!
Comment by Christopher McCann on April 30, 2009 at 4:48pm
Glad you got a take away from my musings. If you'd like to talk further about stoking that fire, my number is 312912654.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on May 1, 2009 at 10:35am
lol. Chris, did you just fake number me? Because you are missing a digit. That's cold, man.
Comment by Christopher McCann on May 1, 2009 at 10:38am
That's funny...It's actually 555, 1212.... I was responding from my phone, apparently I should have pulled over! It's 312.912.1654.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on May 1, 2009 at 11:56am
Haha. I always gave out the public library number. Lol. Educate yourselves and leave me alone! Cool, man. I'll try to reach out next week :)
Comment by Christopher McCann on May 1, 2009 at 12:22pm
It's nice no longer having to deal with that issue, though always flattering. I think my brother received many unsolicited calls from librarians...Enjoy your weekend!
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on May 1, 2009 at 4:42pm
After a while I stopped fake numbering and just flat out told guys: no, you can't have my number. I'm not interested. I appreciate the compliment. lol

It is nice to not have that issue anymore :)

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