Among many others, my title includes a common false statement. Sometimes our perception has nothing to do with reality or objective truth for that matter. Why? We are emotional creatures prone to seeing things through a lens shaped by our experiences and wishes. Although we might want something to be true, believing it to be does not make it so. There must be some more impartial standard than our feelings to measure things by or we are hopelessly at the whim of an easily distorted and manipulated psyche. Even to say that one’s perception is their reality is often false as well. I once thought I was extremely intelligent and witty, for example; those who know me are well aware of this fallacy.
Like “you can become anything you truly want to be,” “whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” (Napoleon Hill) is also seriously short on intrinsic logic. I, for one, finally realized that I would never be the starting center for the Boston Celtics as much as I desired to be (I was somehow lacking about 14 inches of height) or the amount of mental gymnastics I performed to “conceive and believe” that into reality. Sadly, I found my intense efforts at stretching and incessant chanting of “grow, grow, grow” quite futile in achieving my sought-after stature. This, ironically, is also why all faith healers eventually die – the idea that we can literally speak reality into existence has some stunningly obvious limitations.
Do I even have to address the silly notion that “the customer is always right?” Or that those who agree that “the pen is mightier than the sword” probably have never been stabbed. What about “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” My recent bout with cancer suggests otherwise. “You are what you eat” can’t be a literal truth unless most of us are pigs and plants. “A watched pot never boils?” Just watch long enough, I dare you. “Slow and steady wins the race” unless it’s the 100-meter dash. In that case, I would suggest sprinting. If what I’m writing offends you then you don’t really believe that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
So much of what we’ve been told are axioms are just flat-out false. Which begs the question, “What else is there that I assume to be true just because I was told it was?” Often we can’t make progress because we are held captive by false assumptions and ideas we wish to be true but aren’t. We struggle because we find it difficult (or undesirable) to step back from our perceptions and challenge our own status quo. The way we’ve always thought about or done things can be a prison of untruths that defy objective reality. And, to be brutally honest, your favorite self-help or business guru might be contributing to the problem; those brandishing platitudes and blowing second-hand smoke up your skirt.
So, what’s my point? Challenge conventional wisdom and stop letting psychobabble figureheads put wrong and hurtful notions in your brain. Remember that if everybody is running one way, it might be best to run the other! Be original, not a copycat. And let wise people who don’t have their ugly mug plastered on book covers and seminar fliers help you find the truth, not clichés. People who are in the trenches with you, who fight similar battles, whose insight you respect because you know them, their character, and their wisdom.
Well then, what does this have to do with workforce solutions and talent acquisition? A lot. Just think about it: What are we doing that is based on presuppositions we have never challenged? Are we afraid of being novel or unorthodox? Are we so entrenched and ingrained in our processes and policies that we can’t see beyond them? Do we project our misperceptions on our workers and candidates? Do we quickly react with clichés as opposed to careful reasoning as we seek to resolve issues, remediate conflicts, and unravel problems?
What is often needed – at least often with me – is an outside, more circumspect voice. An advisor who can see the forest for the trees when I can’t. Someone I trust to deliver truth in a caring and kind manner when I can’t get out of my self-constructed, self-destructive box of fallacies and misconceptions. If not a subtle “you might try thinking of it this way,” it’s a direct “you’re wrong” when I have ventured too far from reality. Seriously, isn’t it wise to admit we need this kind of help and seek counsel?
Now, is your staffing/workforce solutions partner (if they are a “supplier” or “vendor” rather than a “partner” you can stop reading now) the kind of trusted advisor you would turn to for this kind of input? If not, you might want to rethink who you are doing business with. If you can’t sit down at a table and have a reality check so that everyone in the talent acquisition ecosystem can benefit, you might be in the wrong relationship, that your perception is not reality.