Of Lighthouses, Point Sur, and the Journey That is Staffing


19 miles south of Monterey Bay in CA one comes around a high cliff and while winding around a bend comes across a curious sight.  A volcanic rock jutting out from a small peninsula topped with a light station, and buildings of the utmost beauty.  As one notices the blue water and changing tides, the journey of a rocky and sometimes very dangerous ride brings you to this incredible scene which causes incredible photo opportunities to show forth.  The light station on the Northern side of the rock provided a safe haven and a beacon to overcome dangerous tides and waters that could spell doom for a ship.  On my vacation in July I couldn't help but again be spell bound by this incredible light station known as Point Sur Lighthouse.  As part of our family vacation we knew that we needed something different, something that would set our minds on course to see the blessings we have. 


The journey provided plenty of photo opportunities, and a bright vista of miles upon miles of blue turquoise ocean.  We spotted a Grey Whale spouting off the coast of this rock, we spotted sea lions and other wildlife and noticed nature in all her majesty giving us a clue that life is so much more than work, or for that matter gives a finite time period in which to work our magic, and to make possible great things.  We know challenges in staffing, we know what it means to journey around twists and turns and then to see the outcomes of a lighthouse bursting forth it's light when we get it right and we make that critical and hard to fill hire.  Nothing can be more beautiful or meaningful than a candidate making the grade and finding their direction once again.  We were able to go on a tour led by volunteers from the CA Parks Division.  We had quite a hike up the side of the road of this incredible rock, and castle like light station on top of a hill.  We just felt the majesty as we saw wildlife and took in history.  A large fog horn and a fresnel lens make possible the safety for ships heading past this area.  It stresses the importance of shining a light on our goals.


One can't help but be in awe of a place such as this.  My family and I certainly were as we hiked up the mountain like road.  As we looked down we saw our car after having been let into the park by the volunteers and proceeding down the road to the path that would take us to the top of the hill.  There is something trully remarkable about this amazing place.

I simply couldn't believe at how far we had travelled as we looked down.  And then we saw the view that made us gasp as we came out on top of the lighthouse.  The journey up the mountain/hill/volcanic rock was well rough especially with our baby and daughter and having to carry a diaper bag no less.

It was a steep climb up this trailhead and then you arrive here and it's all worth it:

It was on the top of this lighthouse we got the picture of the sheer beauty of the coastline....just couldn't be any better and the reward was even with the challenges of the climb a blessing of the greatest kind.

From the Pt Sur Lightstation Website there is a bit of history on this historical landmark and I quote from here www.pointsur.org:

   "Throughout history, Point Sur has been a navigational hazard, to which many shipwrecked captains can attest.  In the 1880s, lighthouses and lightships provided invaluable warnings to the many ships that traveled close to shore, especially during rough weather when protruding headlands could provide them with much-needed shelter.  It took mariners 11 years of petitioning the U.S. Lighthouse Service Board before money was allocated for Point Sur in 1886.  Three years later, on August 1, 1889, the lightstation keys were turned over to the first keeper.  He and three assistants staffed the lighthouse and fog signal 24 hours a day.

     The four keepers and their families lived an isolated life.  The trail to Monterey was long and often treacherous, so trips were rare.  The U.S. Lighthouse Service provided a horse and wagon to get mail and supplies from Pfeiffer's Resort (now Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park).  Each family was allotted a garden area for fresh vegetables.  Bulk supplies such as coal, firewood, animal feed, and some food came on a 'lighthouse tender' about every four months. One function of these long, broad ships was to service remote lightstations inaccessible by land.  The tender would anchor south of the lightstation and send in a 20-foot whaler towing a skiff, both loaded with supplies.  The sacks and barrels were hoisted in cargo nets to a platform at the base of the rock.  They were then secured to a flat railcar and winched up to the dwelling area using a steam-driven donkey engine.  Like most remote lightstations, Point Sur was very self-sufficient. As the years passed, life became increasingly less isolated at Point Sur, specially following the completion of Highway One in 1937.  Two years later, the U.S. Coast Guard assumed responsibility for all aids-to-navigation.  Lighthouse Service employees were absorbed into the new program, and allowed to become either members of the U.S. Coast Guard or remain civil service employees.

     In the 1960s, the U.S. Coast Guard began automating lightstations in an effort to make more efficient use of their personnel.  In 1974, the last keeper left Point Sur.  Today a U.S. Coast Guard crew services the lighthouse regularly."


As I rounded the bend and came to the lighthouse at the top of this amazing rocky hill, I am reminded of staffing and it's challenges.  I think metaphorically when I say that staffing has it's twists and turns, staffing has it's crazy trails and it's light beckoning to us all to find our way as we search for candidates and locate them and guide them safely through the harbor of the hiring process.  It has moments where we are like the lighthouse station workers isolated and far from feeling like we are finding the right candidates or that our clients are really feeling appreciative of our efforts, and then our clients shipwreck, and then they realize the light we were shining for them was actually important after all.  It is those lessons, that as staffing professionals we cherish.


Staffing is value added because it helps individuals gain career traction, it makes businesses go.  It becomes ever increasingly important to find the way when a search goes awry, and staffing is an economic necessity.  When the currents of life and the challenges of a search get rough I am reminded of my journey to the top of Point Sur, and my families journey with me to the top of the hill.  I am also reminded of the grit and determination needed to keep that light shining strong and our fresnel lenses clean by studying more about changing industries, consistently keeping a pipeline ready and at hand and doing pipelining strategies even before they are needed.


I am reminded of when a hiring manager sets up an interview and gets your hopes up on a candidate, where you think it will be a hire yet the manager and candidate don't quite mesh, it is then the search begins in earnest again, and the light from the lighthouse management staffing team is needed once more.


I am aware of the challenges related to staffing prowess when we have so many multiple shifting deadlines, and priorities, when our staffing day is like a windy CA Highway 1, and where our thoughts are lost in the time and loss of direction that needs a lighthouse fresnel lens to get back on track.  As you seek to make placements remember every fill doesn't happen the same way twice, that each hiring manager, each job description, each piece of the staffing puzzle will eventually come together, it is only when one is driving forth and making a commitment to bring outcomes of value - just like shining the light of the lighthouse to guide you to your goals.


As you hone in on our finding, sourcing, and honing skills, think of a fresnel lens described by Wikipedia as follows:


"The Fresnel lens reduces the amount of material required compared to a conventional spherical lens by dividing the lens into a set of concentric annular sections known as "Fresnel zones". In theory there are infinitely many such zones.[6]

In the first (and largest) variations of the lens, each zone was actually a separate prism. Though a Fresnel lens might appear like a single piece of glass, closer examination reveals that it is many small pieces. 'Single-piece' Fresnel lenses were later produced, being used for automobile headlamps, brake, parking, and turn signal lenses, and so on. In modern times, computer-controlled milling equipment (CNC) might be used to manufacture more complex lenses.

In each of these zones, the overall thickness of the lens is decreased, effectively dividing the continuous surface of a standard lens into a set of surfaces of the same curvature, with stepwise discontinuities between them. A Fresnel lens can be regarded as an array of prisms arranged in a circular fashion, with steeper prisms on the edges and a nearly flat convex center.

Fresnel lens design allows a substantial reduction in thickness (and thus mass and volume of material), at the expense of reducing the imaging quality of the lens, which is why precise imaging applications such as photography still use conventional bulky (non-Fresnel) lenses."


A fresnel lens is like a good search string, a good use of social media, and a networking pioneering effort that gets talent before it is needed.  The effort to find a candidate is like shining a light out for miles, and focused effort, through the prism of opportunity, well that is true staffing at it's best.

Staffing goals in this New Year are like a ships course and bring a direction that makes incredible outcomes not only possible but realizable.  Where challenges and twists in the road may occur, if the current circumstances are not moving as one would have them, it is only when in recommiting to core principles and core customer service commitment that the journey can be made to go forward in the way it should be.  This staffing journey is at the core of success.  Clearly making a core push to greatness in the way one finds their direction and keeps at the forefront their very vision of success and then driving for it in every endeavor, it is then that greatness in staffing comes to pass.  It is not easy but it is worth the effort.


As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

"What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."


It is when one puts thier whole self and thier whole commitment into every search and focusing on what concerns us and our goals, that is when greatness and the staffing genius goes to flight, clear staffing outcomes and measurable direction is the success factor that leads to the road up the hill and makes the view from the lighthouse stairs a good place to be.  Staffing is all about shining the light in the darkness, and finding the elusive candidate that can add value and make the hire pivitol for the business.   Fresnel lens, and Lighthouse focus anyone?

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