Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I've got a Plan

I started out inquisitive, and it never went away. I was that annoying child always asking, "why?" And when everyone got tired of making up answers for me (because, really, when do kids ask the "why" question of things that parents actually know the answer to???), I would start making up my own answers to things. Which is why, seriously, until I went to college, I thought Lions were boys and Tigers were girls. Blame it on the ones (and I'm not naming names, Mom and Dad) who stopped answering my annoying questions and never told me the difference.

So I grew up to be a Recruiter. I call people and talk to them and ask a lot of questions. And they always have an answer. My questions don't get ignored. And I get to ask everyone what they want to be when they grow up and why they chose this line of work and how much money they want to make. It's amazing. And then I get to find them a new job, which is even more amazing. I love this profession!

Question-asking has actually become quite scientific over the years. As you know, there are lots of things we are no longer allowed to ask, for fear of lawsuits. And there are new-and-improved-ways to ask questions to elicit less hypothetical answers. This is called the "behavioral interviewing" technique, based on the premise that past actions predict future actions. In other words, what you've done in the past is, essentially, what you'll do in the future if put into the same circumstance. I was first exposed to this type of interviewing as a Technical Recruiter at Southwest Airlines and have since incorporated it into my personal recruiting style at other companies.

One of my favorite behavioral questions is, "Tell me about a time when you were going along with Plan A, and something happened that derailed you." This is particularly relevant to the developers and Project Managers I hire, because technical initiatives never stay on Plan A.

The right answer would include a brief pause to assess the situation, and it would also include a Plan B. It would not include stressing out or cursing or panic. It would look like a smooth transition, because you had thought ahead.

Over the holiday weekend, we went to Austin to see our dear friends who have deserted us moved due to a promotion. It was fantastic to hang out with them and see the new house and soak up the visual of their new surroundings. On Saturday we took the girls to see the new American Girl movie, Kit Kittredge. You know that I love the American Girl dolls just slightly less than ChellBell, but I have to be honest that I wasn't expecting much from the movie. But, truth be told, it was cute. Actually good. And it had good lessons for girls (both big and small) to learn about life.

We've already adopted one of the phrases from the movie and used it several times in our house. "Don't let it beat you." Don't let things frustrate you, get the best of you, get your goat, get your panties in a wad. However you want to phrase it. Don't let it beat you.

Life is never a happy Plan A. Seriously, there is always derailment. Sometimes the derailment is a mere hiccup in the grand scheme of things, and sometimes it comes with a huge crash, collisions, and fatalities. And it can take our breath away. And our motivation. Our passion. Our confidence. And we let the circumstances beat us.

I spoke to my Mom tonight, and she is one week out of her 5th chemotherapy treatment. The treatments continue to get more and more difficult and take more of a toll on her body. It's the sign that chemo is doing everything it should, but considering the pain and nausea, that's not always comforting. Mom's biggest struggle has been with her white blood cell counts continuing to be next to nothing. This time around, the counts were so low that the doctor required Mom to come in several days in a row to test her levels. Her progress report tonight was that her counts are up from .6 to 3 (out of a recommended 10 - 13). Mom could tell from my silent response that I was not comforted by that so-called "progress." And then she told me that the doctor doesn't really care about the numbers, as long as they are heading in the right direction.

As long as they're heading in the right direction.

As long as we're heading in the right direction.

If life has thrown you a curve ball or handed you lemons or derailed your Plan A, don't let it beat you. This is life. And we didn't write this story, so in many cases, it's out of our control. But what IS in our control is to point ourselves in the right direction and start heading there. That's what counts.

And we'll eventually find Plan B.

(And maybe some Recruiter will ask you about it one day, and you'll have a good story to tell.)

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