Posted by April 7, 2018.on
Many of us loved the movie The Matrix as there were so many analogies and metaphors that resonated with how we experience life. One of my favorite lines came from Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne), the brilliant leader who searched his whole life for Neo, the messiah-like hero who was chosen to save the world (played by Keanu Reeves). In introducing the idea of the Matrix, Morpheus empathizes with Neo’s experience of knowing the Matrix exists, but not being able to put his finger on it. Intriguingly, he tells Neo, “It’s like a splinter in your mind.”
What an incredible statement. There are things that bother us, but we can’t quite articulate them, can’t figure them out; they are like splinters in our mind.
Allow me to create a splinter if one isn’t readily apparent. We spend a third of our lives sleeping. We are unconscious, not moving, watching movies in our minds of completely unrelated details smashed together like mom’s creative leftovers. Worse yet, we remember those dreams and try to figure them out. We also spend a third of our lives (many of us much more than this) at a job doing something for someone else. Wow. Now imagine you are on your deathbed and actually have enough time and mental capacity to reflect on your life. Are you at peace or not?
Both of these time-vacuums are unavoidable. People don’t get enough sleep which can cause major emotional problems. Trust me, I have a PhD in Counseling. I’ve seen it. As well, we have to work. We tell our kids, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” Simple enough. So, when we eventually take time to review that nagging feeling that something isn’t right, we naturally assume that it can’t be lack of sleep or working too much because these are necessary tasks. We then start looking externally trying to find who or what is causing the splinter. In fact, it might be more helpful to determine if our external world is lining up with our internal voice.
Many are familiar with the book Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. Before they even get into the discussion about leadership, they coach the reader in the pre-requisite to leadership: Finding Your Voice. Your voice is your mission, your values, your reason for living. That voice is there, but it must be brought to the surface, analyzed, refined, and defined. Your values flow out of (but enhance) your voice, your mission. Do you like what you do? Does your job fit YOU? Are you passionate about a vision and your job directly helps fulfill that vision? In the end, it’s about feeling accomplished, being a peace, and feeling like “you left the world a better place than you found it.” My point in all of this is that too many of our employees have a splinter in their minds. They have not yet made the connection between what they do and their voice
As hiring managers, we know we need to tell candidates about our company. How do we do that? We talk about our Mission Statement and Values.
Have you ever noticed that all company values are good and every candidate seems to love and agree with them? But then the employee gets “onboarded” via a fire hose and within three months you actually find out if they will work out. Why do you enforce a probationary period? Is it really to find out if they have the skills for the job? In some cases, yes; in most, no. It’s really because you need to find out if they will play nice in the sandbox with their peers and their boss. We say to ourselves that we need to see if they will be good at the job, but the resume should tell you that. However, to be honest, their resume may be phenomenal but “what got them here isn’t going to get them there”. We in our own hearts know that the experience on our resume won’t get us to where we personally, as a team, or as a company wants to go. The resume speaks to experience and education, but it does not speak to a person’s problem-solving skills or ability to think conceptually. You just hired this “star” then start to painfully realize they don’t have the problem-solving skills or critical thinking ability to learn and absorb where the company is, the nuances of company culture, the vision, and most importantly, the path to that vision. They simply lack the critical thinking skills to move fast or problem-solve to the degree of… well, what you need them to.
It could also be for another reason: The employee has a splinter in their minds that they can’t figure out. They complain about the company, right? What are they complaining about? They are complaining about the leadership, the system, other people, or their boss. You let them go, then move on to the exact same hiring process you had before, which will result in another situation described above.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could reproduce your top performers not only in education, experience, and skills, but also in the way your top performers think? If only you could reproduce your top performers in the way they do their jobs.
If only… new employees could know for sure that the job they are applying for matches their voice, their thinking, and the way they roll. If only you could know that before you hire them.
The four key components of Emotional Intelligence: Self-Awareness, Other’s-Awareness, Self-Management, and Social Intelligence, create an outline for us to create a discussion that begins the process for bringing all that I discussed above into focus.