Stuck? Try Getting Out of Your Own Way! | Overcoming Risk Aversion

Mistakes are a bummer. We don’t like being on the receiving end (like when they don’t’ “hold the onion”) or on the doing end (like when you miss a due date). Some mistakes have greater consequences than others, but we never quite know how great. 

Mistakes lurk, so be heroic.  

Keep working. Get stuff done. Make decisions. Choose options. Make your best guess.

You’ve been given a job to do…so just do it! No one else is.

Business is a machine. It thrives on forward motion created by people doing things that need to be done.

Your life is a business too. So, you need forward motion to find a job, navigate a career, and position your future.

Every time we take action, we leave ourselves open for both mistakes and success. Most of the time, the success odds are in our favor!

Trial and error is a good thing. It’s one way we figure things out! 

So why do we obsess so much about maybe “doing it wrong?” Unless the consequences of a mistake are death or financial ruin, there’s little reason to defer action.

Now, I’m not proposing that we act without thinking, planning, and considering consequences. I am proposing that once we’ve done reasonable thinking, planning and considering, we act. (Haven’t read Seth Godin’s, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? It’s time.) 

When we don’t act, it’s often because we fear:

  • Negative judgments by others (our who and why never explained)  
  • Looking stupid or naïve (the rationale, basis, and likelihood unstated)
  • Disappointing ourselves (the result of a bar we set too high)
  • Becoming trapped (our baseless belief that situations control our future)
  • Personal loss—(the notion that there is some concrete price to pay

These fears will paralyze us if we let them.  

Shackles you choose are still shackles. 

The relentless pursuit of approval and permission coupled with the endless need for more information, discussion, and analysis becomes self-imposed career imprisonment.

Analysis to paralysis is what it’s often called. It happens when you believe you need just one more bit of information, insight, and affirmation before you’re safe enough to act.

Problem: There are unknowns, surprises, and discoveries in every decision.  It’s the “successful people” who come up with winning discoveries and get credit for them, even when it all started from mistakes they made.

The people who end up in the best careers often got there by stumbling through jobs that took them to places they never imagined, both good and bad. They just kept moving along and discovering things while doing quality work.

You can’t become a success when you stand in your own way, waiting for analysis and approval to open doors.

Please, let this be like you. 

Karen was a call center support specialist who knew I needed a call monitoring feedback system fair to our reps. On her own, she found out what other companies did, discussed the law with Legal, and drafted a process for me and my boss to consider, all in short order. A smart, gutsy move for her career.

Herb was a union guy, servicing electric meters. He wanted to move into management but didn’t have the best credentials. He bid on a mobile exhibit job covering a 10,000 square mile area. During the interview, I asked him to write an essay about why he wanted the job. That threw him, but he gave it a go, not knowing where this “no job security” position would take him. In time, he became a respected marketing manager…not bad!

Believe in yourself…because you should! 

Look around. The success you want is within your reach. You just need to be willing to reach for it! The more actions you take, the more ground you gain. Business fitness is about building momentum toward your goals. So pull on your best sneaks and hit the trail!

What fears have held you back along the way? How did you reduce or overcome them? Any advice is a real gift!

Been Burnt by a Bad Hire? |10 Red Flags for Interviewers

Trying to hire the right person can keep you up at night. Why? A bad hire can quickly turn employee harmony into raucous noise and tank  confidence in you.  

If you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find it. If you don’t, oh well! 

The biggest mistake hiring managers make is not paying attention during the interview. Sounds incredible, right? 

Too often, interviewers are focused on themselves, specifically their: 

  • greeting, hand-shake, and small talk
  • style of questioning
  • pitch about the job and the company 

In other cases, they become so absorbed in the content of the candidate’s answers, they forget to: 

  • Ask good follow-up questions that probe for richer detail
  • Notice what isn’t being said—the information left out
  • Watch the non-verbal communication 

When you don’t pay attention, you miss important stuff—like the “red flags.” 

Here are my top ten “red flags” when you’re face-to-face with a candidate: 

  1. Too much “we”: You need to know what results the candidate achieved in prior jobs, not about the mysterious “we.”  Ask the candidate specifically, “What did you do?” and expect an “I” answer. 
  2. Rambling: Candidates that can’t grasp the point of your question and answer it concisely are probably unprepared, poorly qualified, or in a knot. This is telling, right? Your questions, after all, are about them not nuclear physics. 
  3. Pitching: Inflated egos generally don’t integrate well. You need an individual who explains factually their measurable and observable achievements. Results make the grade, not puffery. 
  4. Vagueness: Generalizations don’t cut it. Keep probing until you get the information you want. Tell the candidate that you want them to answer your questions this way:  briefly explain the situation s/he faced, describe sequentially the steps taken, and state the outcome achieved.
  5. Overly casual or tense posture: An interview is an important business meeting. To treat it too casually is either a cover or a show of disregard. Being too tense often indicates lack of preparation, self-confidence, or experience. Amp! 
  6. Negativity: A candidate who is negative or critical about a former company, boss, or colleague still has resentments that may carry over to a new position. Negative comments show poor judgment. 
  7. Focus on salary and benefits: Interviews are about the work. Employment offers are about the goodies. Candidates with pressing questions about salary, time off, benefits, and working conditions reveal much about their priorities.  
  8. Short-sightedness: Candidates that over-explain the details of their work without mentioning the implications lack the big picture view that makes them a good prospect for future growth. 
  9. Poor questions: A candidate that asks insightful questions at the end of the interview shows you his/her understanding of the job, the company, and the protocol going forward. That’s what you’ll want day to day. 
  10.  Lacks fit: If the candidate doesn’t connect with you, chances are s/he won’t fit with your work group. S/he doesn’t have to be like your other employees but should have a compatible style and collaborative nature. 

Your final decision has big implications. No one wants to repeat the hiring process any time soon if they don’t have to. There is no fool-proof system, but it’s a fool who doesn’t take time to read between the lines and stop when the “red flags” go up. You’re good to go! 

Do you have a “good hire” or “bad hire” story to share? Lessons learned are always welcomed!