I am a recovering fear based recruiter! My diagnosis came during a 2-hour presentation (six months ago) which was intended to shed light on the fact that the bulk of people’s decisions are made in or out of fear and I am now working to help others realize the pain that one lives with when they are in a constant state of fear too. Maybe I should back up and explain where this “fear based” talk comes from. A few months ago the organization I work for did something for our team that inspired my introspection around fear based thought and my therapy toward a more peaceful/freedom based thought. Our executive team has interest in growing their business (as many do) and they have known for years that the people who make up our team are the core to our long term success. In accepting that, they invited a professional life/career coach in to our office to address our entire Michigan operation. The coach who led our discussion has been in a number of executive roles, has experienced some challenging personal times and although her presentation started off a bit slow, within 30 minutes, she warmed up and we “engaged” with her, which enabled us to work through an intense, two hour discussion about letting go of fear and moving into a more peaceful way to make decisions and react to situations that happen around us on a daily basis (the ability to react differently is what she defines as finding freedom). That presentation was the impetus for an additional 6 months of intense coaching/career therapy in an effort to help enlighten a group of professionals to the damage that can be created by “fear based” thinking.
The core content of her presentation was startling. The research she shared suggests that more than 90% of the people on our planet live in a perpetual state of fear. The decisions we make, the people we interact with and the directions our lives take are heavily weighted with fearful thought; “what if I don’t say the right thing” and we lose a deal, “what if I make someone mad” and they don’t want to deal with me anymore, “what if I lose my job” and I have to explain why I was fired to my friends and family, “what if I make less money this year than I did last year”, “what if I lose my home”, “what if my boss doesn’t like me”…the list goes on and on. The more she spoke, the more connected I felt to this fear based thinking. I was connected to it because I was living in fear and then I thought about how careful we need to be in the recruiting industry when it comes to fear based decisions. What I have learned; fear doesn’t discriminate and it sure as hell doesn’t care what your title or compensation package is. Fear seems to be everywhere!
Bringing this back to the recruiting industry, I would like you to reflect on how many of your decisions might be based in fear. “What if the candidate I have been working with takes another job?” “What if the hiring manager I have to meet with seems frustrated by the level of recruiting support we are giving him/her?” “What if I offer bad advice to a candidate and their job prospect goes away?” See, the questions are endless in our industry and most of them have a fear element tied to them (losing a fee, frustrating another person or losing respect at some level) and the more I pay attention to this, the more I realized how fearful I was. As you begin to recognize the fear, it comes in handy to have a coping mechanism because in reality, opportunities to be fearful will present themselves regularly. As part of my coaching and training I have learned to adopt two methods that help me recognize and then position myself to make decisions not out of fear, but out of a philosophy of helping others and I want to share them with you. My belief, the more people who begin to operate this way will help create a group of business professionals who embody the role we ought to play on a daily basis; that of a consultant and business partner to the candidates and clients we represent and to the people we interact with on a daily basis. Here are the two areas I focus on each day:
Compassion: The next time you experience a frustrated CEO or an irate hiring manager; instead of letting your heart beat 15-20 beats faster per minute and you begin to think about what you might have done wrong…slow down and listen compassionately. Reflect about this person’s state of mind and acknowledge that they are venting to you (not necessarily because of you), but because of a myriad of potentially fearful thoughts. Maybe their senior executive might jump down their throat if the next great hire isn’t identified quickly or maybe not hiring someone might mean extra work for them, which detracts from the family time they have committed to providing. Putting yourself into the other person’s frame of mind helps curb the fear of… “I didn’t so something right” and puts you into the frame of mind… “How can I help eliminate my business partner’s pain or frustration”? Those are very different perspectives and compassion can help you get there.
Acceptance: I am sure most of you have read the latest books on this topic; The Power of Now, The Secret, The Alchemist and in each you’ll hear from different authors who have a bit of a custom spin to the topic of acceptance. Most things in life are out of our control, so it is our ability to accept the people, discussions and challenges that come into our lives that enables us to become compassionate and being compassionate will help you make more clear and succinct decisions for yourself or on the behalf of others.
In closing; I have been applying compassion and acceptance on a daily basis for the last 4 months and I can only speak for me when I say that I “feel” more peaceful and I believe that my head is more clear to help other people, which is the core component of why we are all here in the first place. Again, my opinion only!
Travis Furlow is the Managing Director for Resource Recruiting & Learning Solutions in Troy, Michigan. You can connect with Travis through his weekly blog (www.fearlessleadership.wordpress.com) or through the company’s website (www.smartworkforce.com).