Now that my son Benjamin is 12, I have lost track of how many Winnie the Pooh videos and stories I saw and read when he was younger. I must admit that these characters were personal favorites of mine as a child, and I got to enjoy them again with my son. Like me, I am sure that many of you who are parents or grandparents have caught yourselves singing the songs from these programs after repeated viewings.
“What,” you may be asking, “does this have to do with recruiting?” Well, it was during one of those moments when Winnie the Pooh stories and songs were drifting in and out of my head that a seed was planted. I began to wonder what it would be like if Pooh and his friends were recruiters. Thus, the birth of this article.
You may be thinking that this is going to be just a “fluff” piece and your time would be better spent reading a few pages out of the dictionary. But stick with me awhile longer and you’ll see that there is at least a little bit of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, or Piglet in each of us. By exploring how they could do a better job in our business, my hope is that you will pick up a tip or two and have fun doing it.
The basic premise is this. Pooh and friends have formed a recruiting company called Honey Pot Recruiting Services. They have had some success to date and want to be even more successful. So they hire a coach and — you guessed it — that coach is yours truly. As their coach, my most important task is to help them refine or upgrade their productivity and effectiveness.
As you read about each of these “recruiters,” I encourage you to look for the Tigger or Piglet, or any of the characters, in you. The coaching they get may point to an idea that would be helpful for you.
Winnie the Pooh
Is he really a bear of little brain?
On several occasions, Pooh refers to himself as a “bear of little brain.” I can imagine Pooh as a recruiter saying things like, “Oh bother, I just don’t have the brains to learn all of this jargon” or “I was not made to make cold calls. I get started and end up all muddled and confused.”
Does Pooh really have little or no brains? Let’s look at some of his assets. He is loving, loyal, a great friend, and ends up on top even through all of the bumbling. I believe that one of the lessons here is that, no matter what, everything works out in the end.
However, there is room for improvement in the way Pooh operates through a deal. One of the biggest obstacles he needs to overcome is his tendency to bury his head in a big pot of honey when things are not going well. If a deal started falling apart, Pooh’s immediate reaction would be to immerse himself in finding a “smackeral” or two of the sweet stuff.
Here are some constructive alternatives to help Pooh deal with confusion, disorganization, and those times when things start going awry:
- First and foremost, he needs to get organized. A great way to start is by writing out his plan for tomorrow the day before.
- His confusion may indicate a need for additional training. Just like the real world, the 100 Acre Woods offers many options including seminars, tapes, books, and articles.
- Pooh needs to identify his destructive patterns, such as overeating or burying his head in a pot of honey. Then, he can replace them with a positive and constructive alternative, such as:
When something goes wrong, Pooh first needs to consider the options. Is there something he can do or is it best to release it and move on to something else? Sometimes the best option is to let go of a situation, especially if you have done everything within your power to remedy the problem.
Pooh, like many of us in the business, has great colleagues and friends to turn to for advice and support. In addition to their suggestions and insights, role-plays and practice sessions can help him learn new skills and discover ways to improve his recruiting abilities.
Focusing all of that bounciness and energy.
Like Pooh, Tigger lacks focus. What he does have are bundles of energy and a positive nature that will carry him far. But his inability to harness that energy in a focused manner trips him up. Tigger also needs to be completely honest with himself. He tends to be so positive that he doesn’t recognize when he needs to regroup and isn’t aware that things may not going as well as he thinks.
Some tips for Tigger:
- A daily action plan would be a great tool for Tigger, just as it is for Pooh (in fact, I have yet to meet anyone who would not benefit from a daily plan). To stay focused in the moment, the more detailed this plan, the better. If Tigger could focus completely on one task before moving to another, the quality of his work would improve almost immediately.
- A strong dose of reality from time to time would do Tigger a lot of good. Bouncing ideas off colleagues, asking for honest feedback from co-workers, and occasionally taking a few moments to assess his own progress would give him clarity about where he is and the next step to take.
Could he be the coach’s toughest challenge?
Things just never seem to go Eeyore’s way. Whether it is falling into a briar patch or losing his tail (again), he seems to find himself in one unpleasant situation after another.
Eeyore reminds me of people I have met in my life that I call the “doom and gloomers.” They believe that bad things are going to happen and inevitably create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Most of us are not at this extreme, but ask yourself, “Am I sabotaging myself with negative thoughts?”
Ideas for Eeyore:
- If a negative thought comes up, he can throw it out and replace it with a positive one. Positive and negative thoughts cannot exist at the same time. For example, if he thinks, “I will never be successful at asking for referrals,” he can replace the thought with, “I am successful at requesting referrals and getting better every time I do it.” It does not matter whether he believes it at first or not. If you tell yourself something often enough, it will eventually become your truth.
- Negativity breeds negativity. Eeyore needs to look for and remove all of the negative people, situations, and possible stressors that are around him. By surrounding himself with positive things and people, it will become very natural for him to rise to the level of those around him.
All of those carrots gave him an eye for too many details.
Rabbit takes playing by the rules to an extreme. Can you see him ever coloring outside the lines? Rabbit’s organization skills and intelligence are fantastic, yet they sometimes cause problems because he can’t think outside the box. Rabbit could greatly benefit from getting in touch with his creative side, lightening up, and having more fun.
Here are some tips for Rabbit:
- Rabbit needs to play (all work and no play make Rabbit a dull and stodgy furry critter). He overwhelms himself with responsibility. Rabbit needs to find something that brings out his playful nature such as swinging on playground equipment, playing in a sandbox, driving go-karts, or anything that is all about having fun.
- Just say “no” to the need to be perfect. The best thing Rabbit can do for himself is to accept and be okay with the fact that he is not perfect and mistakes will happen. This is not only okay; it is a part of life!
- Find an activity that gets the creative juices flowing. This will help when Rabbit needs to think creatively at work, especially thinking on his feet. Two simple activities that tend to get our creative processes unstuck are:
Draw continuous counterclockwise circles with the non-dominant hand (if Rabbit is right-handed, he would use his left hand).
Immediately stop an activity when you become stuck and change to a completely different activity. After a few minutes, this shift in tasks often brings the insight needed to go back and finish the first project.
Mustering the courage to be a great recruiter.
Wouldn’t it have been great if Piglet could have gone to Oz with Dorothy and gotten some courage? One of Piglet’s biggest stumbling blocks is his lack of confidence when communicating with others.
On the plus side, he is extremely honest. What a salesman he could be if he were to combine his honesty with a strong dose of self-confidence.
Here are some tips for Piglet to build a reserve of confidence in himself:
- Practice the tried and true “act as if” principle (also known as fake it ‘til you make it). If he acts confident and says affirmations over and over again (I am a strong and confident pig. I am a strong and confident pig. I am a strong and confident pig.), his actions will soon follow his thoughts.
- Journaling is a powerful tool for uncovering what is really going on. If Piglet spends time each day journaling in detail his thoughts and feelings, there is a good chance that he will uncover the source of his self-doubt.
Did you see yourself in Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, or Piglet? Just like the recruiters of Honey Pot Recruiting Services, you have a choice to stay where you are or grow into your fullest potential. Looking beyond what you do to who you are will give you insight into the changes and upgrades necessary to increase your success in business.
I challenge each of you to honestly assess where you are, where you want to be, and what it will take to make that happen…and then to begin taking action. I promise you that the payoff will affect not only your business, but also your quality of life!