Long ago I read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. It’s a philosophy/travel book that mixes discourses on Eastern and Western culture with the blessings/burdens modern technology bestows on us. It’s a quirky book but I often go back and think about the lessons I learned reading it. Repeated throughout is the conviction that you must live a life of quality but also give quality to life around you.
There are many precepts about life throughout the book. Things about not allowing technology to take over your life but using it to your advantage – to produce good work. To instill patience, care and attentiveness in my work are to achieve peace of mind. Peace of mind produces right values that produce right thoughts (stay with me on this). Right thoughts produce right actions that produce quality work.
What is emphasized is the need to examine oneself and the equipment that carries you through your life journey – where have you been and where are you going in the road of life? Is your motorcycle capable of taking you the 200 miles you want to go the next day? Do you have the tools to make the fine adjustments necessary for a smooth and efficient ride? Have you checked your tire pressure, oil level lately? How efficient is the engine that moves you? Computer and telephone systems, wireless headsets, Blackberry’s, candidate databases, social networking sites – all great technology but in the end they are only toolstools to help you reach out and communicate with prospective candidates, clients or split trading partners – back to basic conversation.
If you don’t periodically take the time to educate yourself, stretch your mind, share your expertise, meet new people, you will find yourself in a rut with at least a flat tire (no one to send in for interviews) or worst a blown engine (offer turned down and NO BACKUP!) Think about itALL major professions require continuing education credits. Where are you getting yours? ALL motor vehicles need yearly or bi-yearly inspections – when was the last time YOU inspected your placement machinery and systems?
Networking and training meetings or nowadays, the many webinars or conference calls available are like the preventative maintenance necessary to run all systems. If you don’t tend to them, then you will be constantly fixing, as opposed to preventing, breakdowns.
Learning new technology, fine tuning existing systems, reiterating the basics of how to develop candidates and new clients – sometimes it takes getting off the desk and phone, even out of the office completely and immersing yourself in the tools of the placement business to gain the full benefit. Find out how others are not just coping but actually succeeding in this economy (don’t just be jealous, LEARN what they are doing that YOU aren’t!). Come back to your own desk with a fresh attitude, with enthusiasm to try that new technique or call that affiliate you just met, who has the perfect candidate for your client.
Another example is how lack of communication affects the process. Just look at what happens when candidates don’t tell the recruiter or the prospective employer what they really need to make the change OR when the resume is not well thought out or the presentation complete. When employers don’t give recruiters feedback throughout the processFor that matter when split trading partners don’t communicatethe process fragments and ultimately can break down. It leads to the breakdown of quality work; negative action instead of positive, forward moving action.
The lack of honesty, truth and integrity corrupts the process and leads to breakdowns. When you lie about a career opportunity to a prospective candidate or hiring authority and they learn the truth, their trust in you and the entire industry is broken. When candidates pad their resumes with false accomplishments or dates of employment and are found out, the process breaks down. When a client or split partner receives a candidate’s resume from a recruiter but chooses to see if they can find them in a candidate database on their own using that original referral, the process is corrupted. When a hiring authority expects a bribe before sharing job orders – and certain recruiters provide them – the process is corrupted. Negative action instead of positive, forward moving action.
Back to that precept of quality: the conviction that you must live a life of quality but also give quality to life around you. Are you someone that clients, candidates, your peers turn to because they respect your opinion, your knowledge, your ability to give sage advice? Do you take the time to share your knowledge and wisdom with new recruiters or students just out of college or outplacement organizations? Sometimes the best way to learn is to teach a lessonwe are reminded of the adage, “do as I say, not as I do!” Teaching or being a mentor is one way to reinforce what we should always be doing. Have you volunteered in your professional associations or business networks? I think we can all look back in our careers to someone that took the time to teach us; have we returned the favor and passed on the knowledge and perspectives to be successful in our profession?
Last but not least, do you have peace of mindhave you striven to be the best person you can be? What have you done to improve your mind, your physical body, your soul AND do you avoid actions, people, or situations that are detrimental? In this age of information overload, it’s easy to stray off the path. We have many distractions and it’s up to us to disregard the negative messages and focus on truth, sincerity and integrity. In the end, you only have one life to live – you will have a lot less to worry about if you try to live each day striving to be the best person you can beit should lead to success in your profession as well. We all want to do business with someone who is not only knowledgeable but whom we respect and trust.
Now remember, peace of mind produces right values that produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions that produce quality work.