Heather Bussing, former Kansas Girl turned Hot California Attorney, joined me for a spirited conversation about recruiting, law, and common sense. If you have read any of her blogs or discussions, then you know what a great asset she has been to the community at RecruitingBlogs.com. Her forthrightness and genial presence are endearing as all get out and I was more than pleased when she agreed to a Bonus Track conversation. When asked about the path she has chosen, Heather proclaimed, "I think what I try to do is join my legal and business experience with a voice of common sense. It is so easy in HR to get caught up in the legalities and fears of being sued. It is valuable to take a broader view and add some common sense."

Heather was a philosophy major and then became very interested in the theoretical part of the philosophy of law. Questions kept popping up like what are legal rights? and how do you legislate ethics? She laughed as she declared, "In law school, you constantly think big thoughts." After seven years of big thoughts and eating Raman noodles, she packed her car and followed her heart to San Francisco. She moved through construction law to employment and labor law. Heather cites her work in traditional union law with the United Rubber Workers as some of the greatest work she has ever done. With a tremendous amount of effort, she was instrumental in getting workers unemployment backdated for a year. There were hundreds of families involved that benefited from her legal work and the final award in the case.

Approaching Heather about her Butterfly Effect experience was easy after a story like that. She felt like the instances when she held off and tried to be reasonable instead of coming out fighting were when she could've and should've made a bigger difference. "I tried so often to be reasonable and avoid conflict when I should have just put my foot down and said, No, that doesn't work for me. In past business dealings, discussion and emotional drama could have been resolved earlier with a firm no and a quicker walking away." When asked to site a particular instance, Heather exposed, "I delayed leaving a partnership several years ago because the relationships just weren't working. I was taking care of everything and wanting everyone to like me. I wasn't being clear about what I needed time-wise and financially, nor was I clear about what I could do and what I couldn't do. I found myself with tremendous responsibility, no appreciation, and unclear about my own financial requirement. If I left the firm, it would have been a logistical financial burden on the company - it would have fallen on others to make everything work." Heather had placed herself in the position of being indispensable and it became too much of an encumbrance. "I wish I had been clearer about my expectations and needs. I wish I had left the partnership sooner. If I had gotten no for an answer, I would have left, but I didn't want to hear no. So..., I tried even harder, maybe then they would see my value and not say no. It was an old pattern, ya' know? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I was afraid of rejection and afraid of letting people down. I understood, at some level, what I deserved but emotionally, I was afraid that I didn't deserve it. "

The question, How has that changed you? caused Heather to pause before answering and then went on, "I change a lot quicker now. I have learned to see past my own fear and anger. I have learned to choose one path and go with it and quit trying to make everyone happy." She is very clear in her next statement, "Objection calls for speculation. It calls for telepathy." You can't please all of the people, all of the time. But we can learn to communicate better which is exactly what Heather has done. Having learned this valuable lesson through the marks of time and considerable heartache, she continues, "It was a crystal clear moment when I realized that my happiness wasn't any bigger, but it was at least equal to anyone else's." This lesson has lead Heather to a rich place where perceived joy dwells and time has less chance to escape unnoticed. It is in that time that pictures of real life take hold and clarity -common sense- can shine through, bright as day.

"Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are and doing things as they ought to be done."
-C.E. Stowe


The term The Butterfly Effect is based in chaos theory and is resultant of the idea that merely a slight change in the flap of a butterfly's wings may illicit minuscule changes that could, ultimately, alter the path of a tornado. A small change could have large effects.

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I am blown away and bowled over. Thank you Heather (and Rayanne!)
Heather, it sounds to me that much of your life was lived as a pupa waiting for transformation. The wonder of this is that you actually went through the transformation to become a butterfly. Most don't. Fly, my friend, on gossamer wings.

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