Bill had invited me to join him and his team of 5 engineers for an off-site lunch to discuss the project. Bill also invited my networking friend, Angie Chatman, a seasoned professional with a rare combination of talents and experiences: writer, teacher, marketer engineer and MIT graduate.
Driving together to the lunch with Angie in the car was a great experience in and of itself. It was like receiving two hours of free consulting with an expert! (please refer to my past networking tip on the benefits of ride-sharing)
The goal of the business lunch was to see if Bill’s team would also be open to working with Angie on this project. The research and testing phase of their project is near completion and they will be preparing to give an important presentation and written report to a very significant customer. There is a lot at stake for Bill’s team and he wants to ensure that they have the right resources and support that they need in order to achieve the success that he knows that they deserve.
Of course, you can’t force your team to accept resources and outside help. They have to want it, see the value in it, and accept it….willingly.
Where did you find these great people?
After lunch, Angie asked Bill how he selected such a great team. “Where did you find them?” she asked him. “They are so intelligent and driven, so committed and passionate about the project.” Her assumption was that Bill had carefully recruited the cream of the crop of talent for this project.
Bill’s answer surprised and delighted both Angie and me. He told us that he had inherited them. They were assigned to him. Below is a paraphrasing of what I heard Bill say:
“I’m like a high school coach. I don’t get to recruit my players. I work with what I am given. My job is to bring out the very best in them. That’s what I do as a manager.”
My mind instantly went in two directions:
- Personal reflection. That’s a lot like being a parent. You don’t have the option of recruiting the top talent in children. You get what you get…and you have to make the best of it.
- Professional reflection. Many employers are obsessed with the goal of recruiting and retaining top talent. Employers spend a great deal of time identifying and grooming their high potential talent and top performers. Employers agonize with dealing with the complainers and non-performers. And then there’s the very large group in the middle: employees with potential but without the personal motivation or ability to fulfill their potential. Employers have the luxury of hiring and firing, although it comes at a significant cost (money, time and emotional energy).
Q: What would happen if everyone adopted Bill’s high school coach attitude, and got the kind of results that he is getting with his team? My sense is that the world could be a much better place.
Bringing out the best in others and in yourself
Whether you’re a parent of a child or a manager of an employee, it is your job to work with what you have, to make the best of it and to bring out the best in those people, and in yourself.
In the process, you have to deal with your own frustrations, disappointments and unfulfilled expectations of others, and of yourself.
It’s easy to walk away from that challenge: to hire/fire, to fight or take flight. But it takes a strong person to stay in the game and work with what and who you have on your team.
As parents and as managers, we are in the human development business. It is part of our personal and professional growth to see what we can do to guide someone else in their personal and professional growth.
There is a reason that certain people are in your life. You have something to learn from them.
“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience that you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.” – Eckhart Tolle, author of A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose (page 41)
Your Networking Goal for the Week
This is the week to practice patience with yourself and with the other people on your team and in your family. You may need to suspend your expectations and judgments, being mindful of how negative thoughts and feelings are causing you and others to suffer.
This is the week to meet your people where they are and to be at peace with that place. This is the week to work with their needs and issues, knowing that there is enough love and energy to have your needs met as well.
This is the week to be fully present, letting go of thoughts of the past and invented stories of the future. Create some space inside by shutting off the mind, the compulsive thinking, while still remaining conscious in the moment.
This is the week to focus on what you have right now – in front of you. The present. Today, you, me, them, Now.
- If you need more help with this concept, read the book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle. I am just recently finished this book and have found it very enlightening and calming.