I recently had photographs taken of myself and my son. I assure you the LAST thing I felt like doing that day was having my photo taken. I hadn’t had time to get a haircut, I barely had time to shower that day, much less feel “picture ready,” we didn’t have cute, matching outfits, and when my photographer showed up I blurted out “I don’t know what Max should wear, I brought five shirts, just pick one please, my dress is wrinkled, Max got applesauce on it and I feel fat. Please make us look good.”
Fifteen minutes later I’d forgotten all those things and was having a blast exploring a park with my son, throwing rocks in the water and enjoying our day. A week later I received our beautiful photographs, which not only “made us look good” but captured our real beauty. I called my photographer and told her “I was SUCH a mess that day, and you made me look beautiful – thank you! You have an amazing talent.” She said, “All I did was have an eye to capture your beauty, which is in your mess.”
And these pictures are all the more meaningful to me because they do capture that. They are real; they show the beauty in the chaotic, messy, stressful, fun, loving, adventurous love of a mom and son.
It made me start thinking: Maybe we should surround ourselves more with people we don’t have to hide our messes from; people who don’t just tolerate our mess, but see the beauty in it. Who see even more value in our unique abilities for what it takes to produce them. And who reflect the beauty back to us.
It reminded me of an attorney I used to work for. Like many bosses, he drove half of the team completely nuts most of the time. A Quick Start full of ideas, he was known for always starting new things without finishing current projects, not completing things on time and causing a lot of stress for the support staff. One day, a paralegal who used to just go bonkers about him not getting things back to her in a timely fashion had to sit in a client meeting with him. The meeting was with a long-time client of the firm whose husband of 40+ years had just died. Not an easy meeting. My boss was personally devastated at the loss of a long-time client and friend, plus had to hold it together in the face of a grieving widow and children.
When the meeting was over, the paralegal came and sat in my office and cried. Then she said words that have stuck with me. “You know, he drives me nuts 95% of the time, but I could never in a million years do what he just did for that family. He is amazing.”
She truly in that moment saw the beauty in his mess. Yes, he had his challenges with deadlines and turnaround, but he had a beautiful ability to bring calmness and confidence to really hard situations. He showed grieving clients a path and gave them assurance that the wishes of their lost loved ones were being followed and that their lives were being honored.
From that day, things shifted. Did this magically make the challenges he presented to the staff go away? Of course not, but it shifted this paralegal from a response of annoyance and “Why can’t he just get this done on time?!” to “How can we solve this? I’m not letting him not returning phone calls give a bad impression when what he can do for a client is so amazing.”
So maybe we should consider surrounding ourselves with people who see the beauty in our mess. Seek out people who value it so greatly that they want to genuinely help us with the mess part. Not those who just point it out to us, tell us how it bothers them, and hit on what we already know – those who truly put the focus on the beauty and appreciate that beauty comes with mess, and who just help solve it.
There is no more important time to keep this in mind than when hiring new team. You have such an opportunity to intentionally look for someone who sees your beauty AND your mess. If you opt for someone you have to hide your mess from, they will see it eventually and be like “all the other employees.” This isn’t just looking for someone impressed by or enamored with what you do. That wears off quickly once they are onboard and dealing with the messy parts. But it’s a search for someone who sees the intrinsic value in what you ARE and what you do.
It’s very hard to find by yourself. We all tend to hide our mess (with genuine hope we will be better bosses this time around) and over-explain our mess, which turns people off because we show them none of the beauty, or we can’t see our own beauty anymore because we’ve been juggling the mess so long. (That’s certainly where I was on picture day.) Let us help you. In our hiring process, The SmartHire Solution™, we talk with you to get really clear on your beauty and your mess. And we clarify that for candidates, so the people you interview get your beauty, and your mess, and are qualified and excited about working with both aspects. Book you complimentary 60 Minute SmartHire discovery call and get started with the process today by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.