We’ve all got big plans. Bold plans. Bright futures we’re working to create. And because we’re each just one person, if our plans are sufficiently ambitious, there will come a point where we can no longer toil alone. We’ll need people to buy-in and change their behavior, or roll up their sleeves and help us (or both). We’ll need to get others on board.
But who do we pick? And how do we do it? How do we get the right people to start nodding their heads, moving their feet, and eventually jump up out of their seats to help us achieve our vision? We enlist them. We enroll them. We recruit them.
But first, we must pick.
We all want the best. Of course. But what does that really mean? We want people whose strengths make up for our weaknesses, who are intelligent and thoughtful and ambitious (in the right way). Who are resilient and resourceful. Who communicate and learn from their mistakes. We want the people we wish that we could be.
And that’s hard. Because we have to admit out loud that we are not that person, yet. That we have weaknesses. And we know that they are going to be better at doing what they do than we ever were when we tried to do it. And once they’ve joined us we’ll never again be able to control the outcome of the project. The people we enlist will have a say. And they’ll know better a lot of the time.
A few weeks back, my partner at work was answering technical questions about our new project. I was following along just fine until he started using words to describe things that I didn’t even know there were words to describe. The micromanager in me freaked out. And the scientist in me felt awkward and unprepared. But the program manager in me felt proud that our team was so far out on the cutting-edge that I had no chance of keeping up.
I let my program-management-pride win the emotional battle. And it was hard.
It’s also hard to get the best people because emotionally stable, whip-smart, badasses aren’t often looking for new things to do. They don’t want for opportunities to achieve. And they probably have a whole list of their own problems they’re working to solve. Or they’re tired and catching up on Game of Thrones.
So once you find them, you must recruit them. But how?
The key to enlisting others to help you achieve your vision is to find people who are frustrated by the problem, intrigued by the technology required to solve it, inspired by the opportunity to create a solution, or otherwise emotionally connected to your mission.
That sounds a little bit more like who than how. And it’s true. Because once you find the right who, the how becomes easy.
If they talk about the problem with as much passion as you do. If their eyes light up at the thought of building a solution. If they are optimistic and enthusiastic about the future you could create, then all you need to do to enlist them, is to invite them. Give them an opportunity and the freedom to dream. Talk to them. Encourage them. Share with them. Trust them. And you will assemble the team you need.
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Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (Incerto) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Art of Possibility by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Sega
Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner