Last week I sat down to write out a list of lessons that my dad regularly repeated as I was growing up (and still does today). At times they were directed towards academics, and at other times they revolved around sports or personal / social situations. Now that I’m rushing closer towards having a professional career (in an area still TBD!) they seem to be increasingly directed towards work settings. As I wrote previously in the list of “DOs” that you can see here. Although the scenarios differ greatly, the messages and lessons are always the same. I didn’t (and sometimes still don’t) always understand them in the moment, but they always seem to make more sense over time. I’m sure nothing would make him happier than for him to hear me repeat them one day to my own team, coworkers, or kids (yikes!).
So with that in mind, and as promised, here are five DON’Ts from my recruiter dad:
DON’T #1: Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole
“We are not in the square peg, round hole business”. He says that A LOT. My dad likes to joke that he repeats the same handful of things over and over, and while that’s only partly true, this one would certainly be one of those things. I used to think that he was just referring to at work when they aren’t a good fit for a position (and vice versa), but I’ve realized it means more than that. When hearing him talk about why he started 4 Corner Resources, it was because he wanted to only work with clients that were a good fit, which is something he couldn’t always do working for a big company.
He’s always taught me that when a relationship is good, or meant to be, it feels easy. Or, when a job is right for a candidate, all will go smoothly. Positive relationships are the ones that are good for everyone involved, so when that’s not the case, don’t force it. Not every fit will be a good one, and that’s OK.
DON’T #2: Don’t judge based on problems arising (judge the response instead)
My dad has always told me that it’s not a matter of IF problems will happen in almost any situation, but instead it is a matter of when. Especially when you’re talking about a lot of people, which is what his business all about. It’s great if you can steer clear of problems, but eventually a problem will appear, and you won’t be able to avoid it. So, how will you react?
Get a bad grade in school? Buckle down with studying and make up for it. Make a bad play in a game? Don’t dwell on it, but instead figure out how to make a better one the next time. He’s taught me that emotions (like being upset, or down) don’t solve anything, and that how people respond to a problem is usually the difference between whether they will succeed or fail.
DON’T #3: Don’t use the word “should”
He calls us (my brothers and me) out all the time on this one. He tells us that if you say that something “should” happen, or how things “should” be, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment, and don’t be surprised when it doesn’t go that way. Any time I use the word around my dad, he makes me rephrase the statement. It either will or it won’t, and you need to be prepared for BOTH outcomes. Instead of focusing on how things should be, you should focus on how things actually are, and then deal with it. This one drives me crazy at times, but I have to admit that it makes a lot of sense.
DON’T #4: Don’t put anything in writing unless you’re willing for everyone to see it
This is probably a lesson that every parent talks about. My dad’s way of phrasing it is to say, “once something is in writing it belongs to the world forever”. He also likes to say, “assume your best friend today will be your worst enemy tomorrow, and then decide what to write.” Of course, the older I get, the more this becomes clear. Technology and social media are not on our side when it comes to this scary reality. Whether you are texting a friend, emailing a colleague, or tweeting on Twitter, those words never go away. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see,” in some way or another, and it is something we should all have in the back of our minds whenever we write. Not just your grandma, but your boss or your best friend, or anyone, really. If you think your conversation is private or that you can just delete it, you are so wrong. Things change in an instant, so think about what you write before you send it out for the world to see.
DON’T #5: Don’t accept ambiguity
“Ambiguity is the devil”, or at least that’s what my dad says. This one definitely comes from his job as a recruiter. He’s told us over and over (and over) how details matter, and when someone doesn’t want to share details, then that’s almost always when they matter the most. When something or someone isn’t clear, that is when problems start to arise. Communicate clearly and openly, and only associate with others who are willing to do the same (and when someone isn’t, then proceed with caution!). Be open and straightforward about everything, and your intentions will never be questioned.
If you’ve read this far, you might be thinking that growing up with my dad wasn’t always easy, and you would be correct! But I wouldn’t trade him or his lessons for anything, and I couldn’t imagine a better dad than the one I have!