The #1 Recruiting Lesson I Learned from Growing Up Dirt Poor

At school, I was known as “the poor kid.”

Let’s put it this way: I had to duct tape my tennis shoes, I wore clothes with holes in them before destroyed denim was a legitimate style, and I ate saltines and powdered milk for breakfast.

When I left home at 19, I had just 50 bucks to my name. I drove as far as that $50 would take me and started from scratch where I landed.

One of the things I gained from being extremely poor was a phenomenal work ethic. I had something to prove and was tenacious and driven, always tackling the hard jobs. I knew I was created for something bigger than my upbringing, and I was driven to reach whatever that “something bigger” was at the time.

Because the “something bigger” changed over the years. It started, as it often does, with the money, the house, the cars. Over time, it became all about being with my family, helping others through my business, and leaving a legacy.

I went from “the poor kid,” to leading people twice my age as a regional manager at the age of 27, to running my own business helping recruiting leaders.

The lesson I learned that got me from there to here?

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Don’t settle.

How to Know If You’re Settling

As a recruiting leader, you work hard I get that. But working hard doesn’t mean you’re not settling. You can be working hard at the easy stuff, and wondering why you’re not getting results!

You may be settling and not even know it. Here are some of the “tells.”

Settling Tell #1: You have no systems.

You know where you’d like to be as a recruiting leader, but you have no road map for getting there. So you keep on doing the same things over and over until the pain of remaining stuck becomes too great, and then you desperately throw some new tactics into your mix to get unstuck. You try a special phone script, send someone a generic (!) offer letter, or send treats in the mail, then pray for the best. This cycle continues, getting you nowhere fast.

Business systems automate your success, and you should be using them consistently to keep your business moving upward—even when you think you have all the leads or hires you need. You set your systems up-front, tweak them as needed, and turn them into a kind of habit that gets easier and easier.

The problem comes when I say “up front,” which means you have to do work to get your systems rolling before you can reap the benefits. It’s hard before it gets easy, and people who settle don’t like to invest resources now to ensure business success later.

Settling Tell #2: You have the wrong routine.

When I ask recruiting leaders what their morning routine is like, a lot of them look at me like I’m nuts. They tell me they roll out of bed, get ready for work, and head out the door—obviously. What else is there to do?

The things you do every day either set you up for success, or they keep you stuck. This isn’t a quote from one of those cheesy motivational posters: It’s science. Our brains change and adapt based on our experiences, and the more you do something, the deeper these habits and attitudes are etched into your neural pathways.

When you get up each morning, you can engrave mediocrity into your brain, or you can etch it with success. Staring bleary-eyed at your laptop while downing coffee = settling. Exercising, planning your day, or reading a business journal = setting up for success.

These three resources explain the ability of the brain to change based on your habits and the importance of a good morning routine:

●   What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: How to Achieve More at Work and at Home by Laura Vanderkam

●  How Experience Changes Brain Plasticity from Verywell Mind

●   The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod (do yourself a favor and read this book over and over again)

Got no routine? Got a bad routine? You’re settling for less as a recruiting leader.

Settling Tell #3: Your environment doesn’t support success.

Like routines, your environment is a huge factor in your success—or lack thereof. An article in Inc. says it all: “One’s environment—whether that is your home, your community, your company, or your city—subtly dictates core values and intelligence.”

So if you keep company with people who drag you down, if your office is filled with teetering stacks of paper, if your computer is overflowing with junk files, if your email inbox is bursting with emails you’ll get to “someday”..

…you’re settling.

Two Ways to Stop Settling as a Recruiting Leader

It would be useless for me to tell you how to know you’re settling, and then not offer any solutions. And I’m not the kind of guy to leave you hanging (Proof? Here is a recent podcast I did around this idea of “settling.” [Why Recruiting Leaders Unknowingly Settle], so here’s what to do.

1. Come Clean.

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Clean up those areas that I talked about earlier. Develop a healthy routine, create an environment that supports your work, and make the effort to build systems that automate your success.

Embrace tension.

Here’s the other biggest lesson I learned growing up as “the poor kid” that helped me achieve my business goals:

You should always be moving toward the tension.

You may not have had an upbringing like mine, where you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, but we all have some kind of internal tension that can either defeat us or drive us. What do you want to get away from? What pain point do you want to overcome?

It’s very easy to stay in one place or run away from your internal tensions, but embracing them is what keeps you from settling.

External tensions are important, too, and those we often have to create. For example, getting a mentor or a coach, or finding someone else to hold you accountable, are ways to make that happen. That person will be expecting you to perform at your best and won’t let you settle for anything less.

Take it from the penniless kid who leveraged the tensions in his life to become a recruiting leader who loves his job:

Your goals worth fighting for—so don’t settle.

 

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