Do You Really Know What You Are Getting Into?
I was hanging out downtown the other day, and ran into this particularly strange character. He was one of those guys that have the big signs warning of the impending end of the world. Sometimes his sign will say “The End is Near,” and or other similar messages. Sometimes though, his signs don’t make any sense whatsoever. Like the other day he had a sign that said “They are aware of all of what you think you don’t know,” which I had to read a couple times before I realized it really didnâ€™t make any sense.
So naturally, being the curious guy that I am, I went and asked him. I was kind of half expecting him to be a complete nutcase, and give me some wild reason that masked his complete and utter detachment from reality. But what I got was something altogether different.
It was kind of like that time when I was a kid back in boy scouts. Our troop would go on these yearly hikes. They were about fifty miles, and took about a week. To make sure we were all up to snuff, we would have to go on three “qualifying” hikes prior to the big one. There would be five successive weekends where we would the troop would leave early Saturday morning, hike for eight or so miles, camp out, and then return on Sunday. You had to go on three of these five in order to go on the long one. The scoutmasters that went along didn’t want to be stuck carrying some kid’s stuff because he couldn’t carry it himself.
That had happened a couple years before. They didnâ€™t have the three-trip rule, and just went straight away into the weeklong hike. There was this one kid that joined up, and his mom assured the scoutmaster that he would be able to handle it. After about two miles in, everybody realized this kid should be anywhere but on a hiking trail with a thirty-pound pack.
The scoutmasters divided up his stuff until his pack was maybe five pounds. Even then he struggled. Hiking up hills in high elevation where the air is thin is not the easiest thing in the world, and this kid was proof. His mom had unloaded this kid on the troop to take care of him for a week, and the adults all had to unload him of his stuff. And the rest of us kids had to pretend to be nice to him while we walked slower than normal so he wouldnâ€™t be left behind. Talk about a burden.
I read this book once that was talking about business success. It said that the most successful people are one’s that are able to carry their own weight, as well as offering something to the organization. There is a certain winning combination. It gave several examples of different job interviews, and some of the answers people gave. Several of the unsuccessful candidates were keen to find out things about the job like vacation time, benefits, how often they can get raises, and so on. Managers naturally weren’t to anxious to hire these people.
Others on the other hand were a little too much in the opposite direction. They were about how good they were, how many massive skills they had, and why they should be hired. Managers didn’t really like these people because they didn’t really take much of an interest in the particular organization. They seemed to have a one size fits all ego that expected the world to bow down in awe of its skills.
The ones that were the most successful were the ones that were confident in their abilities, and were able to elicit certain aspects of the business, and then explain to the interviewer how their particular skills would be of specific benefit to the company.
The conclusion of this book was that if you are ever interviewing for jobs, to first make a list of some skills you have, and keep a mental list of several examples of how you demonstrated those skills in the past. Then when you are in the interview, find out what kind of person they are looking for, and then give examples from your own past that show you are an obvious choice for the organization. Obviously it helps to do a little bit of research before going to the interview, but with the amazing amount of information at your disposal through the Internet, that should be fairly easy.
The bottom line is to not only know your skills, but be able to find several examples from your past, and be able figure out as many creative ways as possible to show how they are applicable to as many situations as you can. This will get you a lot further than showing up with your proverbial hat in your hand asking about benefits and vacation time.
After we finally made it back after what seemed like the longest week in backpacking history, we never saw that kid again. He was quiet all the way back, and after a few polite and subdued goodbye’s that was that. I did see our head scoutmaster having a word with his mom. It didn’t appear to be an angry exchange, but he did seem to be explaining several things to her, and she appeared to be listening as though she had made some kind of a mistake. She kept nodding her head in what looked like sincere appreciation.
Perhaps she didn’t pawn him off to the troop after all. Maybe she just misunderstood what she was getting her son into. Many people don’t have a good idea of what they are getting themselves into. Which is exactly why the troop instituted the three qualifying hike rule to make sure everybody knows what’s coming when we went on the week long fifty mile hike.
I have to admit, thinking back to those fifty-mile hikes, I had some of the best times of my childhood. Fishing in pristine lakes, being in huge beautiful valleys surrounded by snow capped mountains without any other people in sight except for my friends and me. Seeing bears and deer and all kinds of other animals in their natural habitat is something you don’t ever forget.
It turned out this guy was doing marketing experiments for a church. There was a certain church in the area, whose name he made me promise I wouldn’t repeat. They were testing different marketing slogans. It was a rather big church, a non-denominational Christian church, and they were always trying to expand their members. They hired this guy from an advertising company, and would come up with different slogans for his message board, and simply note people’s reactions.
He would measure their reactions by how often they did double takes, if they slowed down when they passed him, or if they came up and talked to him. He told me that so far, the message that had a positive spin had the most effect on people, with messages of imminent world destruction coming in a close second.
So if the marquee messages at your local church alternate between peace and love, and threats of eternal hell bound damnation, now you know why.