“Where’s The Stick?”

Originally Posted April 9th, 2010
I’m not one to sit around and wait for my ship to come in. However, I have swam out to enough creaking, rotted and sinking ones to know it is better to invest in building a high quality, safe port and let the best ships come to you. Add a tall lighthouse and keep it updated, maintained and well-lit.

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I wrote this original blog after being let go from a position that proved to be less than expected when hired. The context of that original blog related to job searching and interviewing. A friend once told me that the whole interview process involves you telling the potential employer how great you are and the employer then telling you how great the company is. After you’re hired you each then get to realize how much the other lied. The fact is whether you are employed now or looking you always need to “look for the stick”. Opportunities once thought to be perfect fits can devolve into monotonous tasks. Career paths and growth opportunities can quickly get strewn with obstacles or be choked out among the many thorns. Interviews and new starts that paint beautiful pictures to a job-seeker desirous of exploring potential can soon become dried, cracked and peeling realities revealing the weak canvas below. I’ve updated the text below a little. Let me know what you think.

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If you have ever played fetch with a dog, more than once you’ve probably attempted to fake the dog out when throwing a stick. You know the drill: Throw the stick and the dog runs and fetches it. You throw it again and again and the dog fetches each time. As you hold the stick the dog prances and is very excited because he “knows” that he soon will have the chance to chase after the stick and bring it back. The dog is always motivated and gives his all each time. Then, you make like you’re throwing but hold onto the stick and the dog, STILL very excited, runs ahead just as hard as before only to search in vain for something that isn’t there.

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In a previous work environment the dog fetching analogy came to me and I always think about The Fetching Game while working or when talking to recruiters about potential jobs and assessing the companies and those interviewing me. When researching opportunities and interviewing companies, experience has taught me to “look for the stick”. And I don’t stop with just the interview. Every day I’m looking for the real opportunities and the real potential in every meeting, conversation, email and decision. I’m not cynical – I don’t want to get all excited about a company, project, role or title and run after it only to find out later that there really wasn’t an honest and true opportunity to be enjoyed.

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My experience has taught me that I’m interviewing the company and the opportunity MORE than the company is interviewing me and the interviewing doesn’t stop after being hired. I continue to observe and “look for the stick”. I know me – I know what I can do; what my passions, values and strengths are. I know where I want to grow and where I need to grow. I want to make sure that the next step is a step forward and that this new opportunity is in fact an opportunity and that while there I can be continuously productive and valuable. The exploration and realization of potential is critical. So I question:

  • What is the leadership health of those who are in control?
  • How creative and innovative are those who control of the direction of the business?
  • What is the outward expression of passion in those I see?
  • Is there a clear and compelling vision and does everyone get it?
  • Is this a GOOD ship?
  • Is the captain known for wisdom and vision?
  • Is it the BEST vehicle to help me grow and achieve my life goals?
  • Will my family be satisfied and safe?

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As I work each day I always and continuously ask myself -WHERE IS THE STICK?

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~ by Jeff Williams on April 5, 2013.

 
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