Slave to the grind

Well, it has been three weeks now that I have been out of work, I guess that means it is about time I start really looking for a job. Sure I have turned in some applications and the such already, but I wasn’t necessarily trying to get a job at any of those places. I mean really, I applied for several positions with a starting salary of over 40,000. I really doubt I was qualified for them, but what if they actually hired me? That’s right, I would be sitting in butter (obscure t.v. show reference).

Starting yesterday I actually began applying for jobs that I really am qualified for. As a direct result of that I was called for two interviews within twenty-four hours of applying. I am going to go to one interview tomorrow at 10a.m. and the other one is scheduled for Thursday at noon. I don’t really plan to go to the one on Thursday because 1)I fully expect to get the first job offered to me on the spot and 2) the other job is in Tucson.

The thing about looking for a job right now is that it has been so long since I have had to do it. I haven’t been to an actual job interview in more than a decade (not counting the one I went to last week at 84 lumber), and I haven’t actually made a resume since I was a sophomore in High School. I hope that what I lack in recent experience can be overcome by my sheer confidence.

Working where I did for so long gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people in entry-level positions at their companies. One of the guys that I remember most is Larry. Larry was a route salesman for Budweiser[1] some twelve years ago. Heck of a nice guy, he went so far as to give me a gift on my twenty-first birthday -the only one other than my mother to do so- . Larry went on to become the supervisor of his division. Why did he get promoted instead of someone else? Two reasons: 1) He had an extremely good attitude. When it comes right down to it your attitude is the most valuable asset that you have. 2) He never hesitated to make a decision.

There really are two different types of people in the world. There are those who will make a decision based on the available facts, then there are those who will tell someone else the available facts and ask them to make the decision. I used to believe that everyone had the ability to make a decision, it took me years of interacting with people to find out that some people just can not do it. The only reason I can come up with to explain this is that they are afraid of making the wrong decision; If they do not make the decision they will get none of the blame. While this may seem like a great idea on the surface, it is certainly not the way to go to advance your career.

If you look at an industry like Fast Food, for instance, you will notice that every store has one general manager, several assistant managers, many shift managers, and a whole heck of a lot of peons. If you have ever had poor service at such an establishment, you will know that out of all those managers the only one that will make a decision is the General manager. The shift managers and assistant managers will back away from it like the plague. Do they really think that they are going to get reprimanded for giving you another cheeseburger since the first one had a rat head in it? Probably not, but they (evidently) don’t want to risk it anyway. Thus they are actually nothing more than peons themselves. Given a shiny new title after scrubbing the same deep fryer for five years or so. (That is not speculation either. I can base that on my experience working in a chain Fast Food place in my teens. I may not have recognized it at the time, but it certainly is true).

When I first started working I was the same way. I would really hesitate to make a decision for fear that I would make the wrong decision. It wasn’t until my last job that I started to change that, and the reason why was simple. After I had been working there for about six months the owners went on vacation for a week. This was long before the cell phone gained popularity, hell few people even had pagers. I was left to run the store on my own. And I did a HORRIBLE job of it. I tried my best to keep from having to make a decision. I put aside papers for when the owners returned so that they could be the ones to make a decision. As a result of that we ended up running out of a lot of DSD items because I wouldn’t let them send anything without the owner’s consent.

Twelve years later that had all changed.

I am now confident that I will make the right decision, and so I make the decision. It is sometimes the wrong decision, but it is a decision that has to be made. Someone once said, though I can’t remember who, “often wrong but never unsure”, and that is sort of how I am now. It is extremely important to be able to make a decision without hesitation. It is important because the people who work under you need to know that you are confident. Whether your decision turns out to be right or wrong is far beside the point. A leader simply must be able to look at the available facts and make a confident decision[2].

Of course none of this matters one bit when it comes to my interviewing for a job. I will have to work somewhere for a while before my supervisors see that I do have the ability to make decisions. What they will see in the interview is confidence. Not confidence in a smug way, but the confidence that can only come from years and years of real life experience. I may not have a BA in accounting or Business management, but I do have confidence. Confidence is something that you really can’t learn by reading scenarios out of a textbook. You can read about situations with unruly customers all you want, speculate about what you would do on Easter Sunday when the freezer goes out and thousands of dollars or merchandise is at stake. Until you are actually in that position you simply can not know that you would have the confidence to make the right decision.

Do I really expect to walk out of that interview with the job tomorrow? Hell yes I do. And if I don’t get the job I will go to my next interview with exactly the same attitude.

[1] Technically it is Golden Eagle Distributors, which is a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch. Thing is I doubt that I know how to spell Anheuser-Busch, and Budweiser is more recognizable anyway.

[2] As I am writing this I can’t help but think of George W. Bush. He too is not afraid to make a decision, and he too is confident about his decisions. BUT he is not looking at the available facts before doing so. Has to be a package deal. Being confident about a decision that does not consider the facts at hand is more foolish than not making the decision at all.

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