Not all that long ago, my girlfriend Tara – (well, soon to be fiancé, Shhhh… she doesn’t know yet) said to me, “I’m always impressed with how you set goals and then achieve them Dennis, but what I don’t get is why you set them so low when you know how great you can be.” Baaaam, now that hit me like a right-cross from Rocky Marciano! The truth hurts, because it is true.
Some might think it too personal to share, but I think it is precisely the sort of thing one should be open about. In that vulnerability lies the key to improvement and reinvention. I use myself as the example, but merely because you and I are the same in so many regards. We all have that voice, or two, in our heads which we always hear but seldom listen to.
Now, I could easily discount my sagacious girlfriend as being inaccurate in her assessment because by all accounts I’d been making it happen…. I’d embodied the old adage of “Move West young man, move west!” by leaving the lucrative mortgage firm that I owned on the East Coast and moving to San Francisco to reinvent myself by diving head first into a new career as a recruiter. How could I possibly be setting low goals?!?
On the surface, I have enjoyed success and fulfillment. Life has been kind to me, maybe too kind. I have been hungry many times, but I have never starved. Felt the cold, but I have never been frozen. I have talked the talk, but never been called out on my walk. Well, today I am turning myself in as the procrastinator I have been!
My addiction to procrastination has consistently overshadowed my life’s work. I have put as much time and effort into pushing off my work as an addict must put into scoring the next fix. I have done any and everything to not do that which makes me feel most fulfilled – my work. To be clear, when I say, “my work” I do not just mean the 9-5 that pays the bills. No, by my work I mean that which I was born to do, which is connecting the fantastic people I come across as I network my way through life.
I recently picked up “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield. This is a book I have read before, but I had come across it while high on hard work and tossed it aside in one of my lows of procrastination. I am not going to paraphrase Pressfield’s fantastic explanation of fear, internal-resistance, and addiction (yes, procrastination is an addiction), but I must say his book put words to feelings I have struggled with internally for many years. As I thumbed through the book for a second time, these words jumped out at me as if I’d never read them before, “You don’t need to take a course or buy a product. All you have to do is change your mind”. He was right. In going PRO I decided to do just that.
The first step in effecting a lasting change was to look back at how I had been living as a procrastinator. This was also the hardest step. The downright crazy thing about procrastination is how crappy it leaves one feeling, even as they do anything within their power to prop up its control of their life. I assume any addict would describe their struggle in similar terms. The self-doubt, self-rebuke, self-loathing that comes with knowing you are not living up to your potential – miserable is the word that comes to mind for me. Hell is knowing your potential is higher than you’ve ever achieved, but being afraid to figure out exactly where that bar stands.
I dare not count the number of great ideas that have died on a bar-stool and were forgotten with the morning’s haze nor the countless people I’ve met that I knew were better for me than those I hung out with, but staying in the rut seemed much easier than stepping out and blazing a new trail. I have fed my internal-resistance in a manner similar to how I assume a drug-user feeds their habit. I have not robbed from family or friends to feed this addiction. No, I have done something far worse – I have stolen from myself, in time wasted, effort not expended and achievement unrealized. This in turn diminished who I was and what I could offer the world. Therein lies the best reason to change.
Right behind my admission comes the lurking fear that voicing this makes me weak or less manly than the next guy. Shame was one of my internal-resistances strongest tools to keep me in line. I am not ashamed of who I have been, because right or wrong, it has served as the foundation for who I have become.
I would like to share a few examples of the differences between a procrastinator and a PRO. The biggest difference is accountability, to oneself. The procrastinator version of me produced and accepted any excuse in the book. The Pro version of me accepts no excuses and plays the ball as it lays. The procrastinator was a know-it-all egotist while the PRO does not hesitate to ask for help. Lastly, the procrastinator was the learning version who insisted on the hard way and the gut-punches that life deals out with it. I now think of him as the “Beta-Me” – a very necessary iteration in the continued development of oneself. The PRO me has learned from those experiences and uses that knowledge to be better at life. I have put in the time and effort to forge a new version of me and that version is a PRO.
There are no Twelve Steps to turning PRO – just today, tomorrow, and every day after when I make the decision to do my work. Yes, it is that simple, which is precisely why it had been such a struggle to reach this conclusion. Often in life, the answer is so simple we step past it while looking for a complicated solution. I’m sure you agree and probably have a relatable experience or two.
You have not heard much from me lately as I have been off the radar on purpose. Not only have I been working on myself and instilling the habits it took to go PRO, but I have also been working on the launch of my life’s work. I am proud to introduce Profound Placement to you! Profound Placement is a small-batch recruiting firm which will be specializing in true one-off headhunting, with a focus in Human Resources as well as PR/Media relations. I will be the best in the San Francisco Bay Area in these verticals because I am a PRO and as such I am going to take home the cup every time! So, the question of the day is, why do you care? What does it matter to you that I’ve gone PRO? How does me realizing my lifelong potential actualize for you?
Simply said, I am dedicated to doing my work, which is making connections by facilitating clear and efficient communication between client and candidate. Its sounds so simple, but after being in the recruiting fishbowl for the past few years, I assure you it is the least simple part of what is often a broken and frustrating process for all involved. As a society, we have become so focused on technology as the next best thing and it often is. However, I believe that what recruiting as a process needs most is to be dialed back to a more approachable and personable model. After all, a firm handshake and look in the eye go further than any algorithm ever will when it comes to choosing your next team and team member.
How will I differentiate myself from the plethora of recruiting firms in the Bay Area? Primarily, I will not be a chop shop generalist working more roles than one can count on their fingers and toes. I will specialize in these verticals and be your go-to-guy for top-notch companies and rock star candidates. Also, there will be no blindly throwing resumes from a dated-database at a job order hoping one sticks. You want fresh meat, put me on the scent. I am your bird-dog. I am a specialist, I am a PRO and my work proves it.
I am sharing my journey because to not do so would be to give in to a different part of procrastination. The part which knows that the responsibility of fulfilling my work is surpassed only by my ability to help others along the way. If I can hope for anything from my thirty-six years of bumping around in the dark, it is that someone can take notes from an act or two I have already played out and avoid that chapter in their own show. By sharing this with you, I am doing the scariest thing possible for a former procrastinator… I am making myself accountable to more than the lies and deception of my own head and giving anyone who reading this the power to hold me accountable. I want you to hold me accountable. It is scary – which tells me it is the right direction to move in. Fear is crippling to an amateur, but nuclear fission to a PRO!
PS – If you catch me slipping, please grab me by the collar and put me back on the saddle. I would appreciate that very much. If you enjoyed reading this and found it inspiring please feel free to like, comment, and share with others. I look forward to hearing from you!