Piece by piece

I just found this in some old files. It’s something I wrote years ago but had forgotten. I still believe it.

Colorful fabric with natureWhat if life isn’t a tapestry, a garment patterned by events, moods, cycles, and stages? Where even a slight change in weave changes the visual effect? What if life, instead, is a collection of swatches, where not the pattern, but the very fabric itself provides the illustration?

Some phases might be unbleached broadcloth. These times are straightforward and functional. Sturdy and strong, but unadorned.

Other times are more delicate, like linen. Crisp and cool, linen phases look pristine, but add a little heat, a little moisture, or a little pressure, and the fabric crumples.

Flannel phases are warm and safe, comfortable and sheltered.

Satin cycles are sleek and sexy.

Burlap patches feel rough and unhewn. They scratch and irritate, and they’re tough to break through.

Taffeta stands up, crisp and sassy.

Cotton times wear soft but true, dependable.

Nylon periods are something made from nothing.

I am a swatch book. You can get to know me by flipping through my pages, using all of your senses to understand who I am and where I’ve been. See the all colors, strident and faded and shimmering and dull. Feel the textures, smooth and rough. Smell the sweat and tears and celebrations that stain me. Hear my crackle and snap under your fingertips. Taste my life through these snippets of cloth. Find me, not in my design, but in my very foundation.

Rearrange my pieces over and over again, and my nature does not change. The elements of my life are indelible; my swatches are product of that which has already happened. No amount of reordering will produce another end result; life is not retroactive. Only a new swatch will adjust my character, piece by piece.

Gut check

In my career, I’ve had the privilege of hiring several people. Although I’ve enjoyed the company of every single one, not all of them ended up being a good fit for their respective positions. On the flip side, some have far exceeded my expectations.

On balance, the good choices have outweighed the bad, mostly due to learning some tough lessons along the way. Not only have I learned which questions might lead to the most insightful answers, but I’ve also learned how those insights might indicate fit. I’ve learned which questions I can ask and which questions I can’t. I’ve learned how to read between the lines on a resume. I’ve learned to check references and to verify education. I’ve learned, essentially, to do my homework.

I’ve also learned to trust my gut.

The most important tool I have in my interview arsenal is my own intuition. It took awhile to get the nuance right, but I think I’ve figured it out. A bad gut feeling is enough for a veto. A good gut feeling signals a need for supporting evidence.

Every time something about a candidate has made me uncomfortable—even if she looks great on paper and doesn’t botch the personal interview—she has ended up being a poor fit for the position in question when I’ve hired her anyway. If I’m not excited about bringing a particular person on my team, I shouldn’t do it.

The flip side isn’t so simple. Gambling on a good gut feeling alone isn’t always a sure bet. The few times that I’ve done that, jumping ahead of my usual due diligence, I’ve been sorely disappointed. I still need to check the facts.

Of course, no one gets it right every time, but I’ve learned two important lessons: to trust my gut when it says no, and to be skeptical when it screams YES!