The Standard of the Right Fit

Have you ever wondered why your search for the “best” in both your professional and personal life results in selecting wrong fits? Perhaps this question perplexes you because you assume that searching for the “best” must result in finding Right Fits.

Picture a rat-infested barrel of rotten apples. Compare and contrast. Select one. What do you have? A rat-infested rotten apple.

If the job offer you accepted is one of those rotten apples, you have picked the wrong fit. If the person you pick to marry is one of those rotten apples, you have picked the wrong fit. The standard of "best" is not working! You need to change how you make your decisions. Switch from the standard of “best” to the Right Fit.

Make No Assumptions

We all make assumptions. If our assumptions are correct, that’s great. But, what if our assumptions are erroneous? Then, we could act inappropriately as well as make wrong decisions. It’s imperative that we rid ourselves of making assumptions. For example, many assume in searching for a new job that employers who post positions have a clear understanding of the positions that they aim to fill. Not necessarily so! Think about what erroneous assumptions you are making in both your professional and personal life which are impeding you from achieving the results you want. Here is the beginning of Chapter 2 -- Make No Assumptions: Open Those Doors in Dr. Arlene’s book WIN Without Competing!:


Make No Assumptions:
Open Those Doors

Your Goal:
Recognize the negative consequences of making
assumptions and stop making them.

THIS IS THE BEST advice I or anyone can offer you: Don’t make assumptions—not ever—not about your career goals and objectives, and not about anything else in your life. As author Erica Jong observed, we make our own prisons. I’m convinced we build them chiefly out of the assumptions we make, assumptions that almost always impede our progress toward the most favorable outcomes in our lives.

During the time I headed a $60-million education program for the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, my colleagues and I hoped to enlist the assistance of renowned medical researcher Jonas Salk, who had developed the polio vaccine in 1954 and saved hundreds of
thousands of people from this crippling disease. The medical oncologists with whom I worked had mailed several letters to Dr. Salk at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, requesting an initial meeting, but they hadn’t yet received a reply. While I was attending a professional meeting in nearby San Diego, I decided to attempt a different strategy. Although I understood that directly telephoning his office to ask for an
appointment was perhaps a bit forward, it also certainly seemed worth the risk—I couldn’t fail to reach Dr. Salk any more completely than my colleagues already had, after all. And because I refused to assume that I couldn’t make an appointment with Jonas Salk by phone, I tried—and I succeeded. Dr. Salk’s assistant kindly listened to my request, then scheduled an appointment. A few days later, Dr. Salk graciously met with me for more than an hour.

At one point during our time together, Dr. Salk suddenly and without a word of explanation left the room. Was the meeting over? Should I leave? I wondered. But I opted instead to make no assumptions about what his disappearance meant and simply waited to see what would happen next. After several minutes, he returned with a number of documents cradled in
his arm, publications authored by him that he hoped would assist and encourage us in our research program. As I departed, he escorted me to the door and blew me a kiss goodbye. How charming he was! Back in Washington, my colleagues were astounded by my chutzpah and delighted by my success—an outcome I simply never assumed I couldn’t accomplish.

Let me introduce a candidate I’ll call Colin, a remarkable man whom I recently had the pleasure to assist in finding and securing a position for which he is very well qualified, one in which his talents are enormously appreciated by his prestigious employer, and the kind of mid-career advancement that offers him both satisfaction and security—a Right Fit for Colin and his new employer in every way.

Colin, in his early forties, is a native of Ireland; he was lured to the United States fifteen years ago by one of the country’s leading cancer-research hospitals to direct its clinical information systems. During that decade and a half, he developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s leaders in a field that applies advanced information technology to cutting-edge medical research. Colin’s colleagues praised his myriad skills and loved working alongside him; he remained happy in his position. However, he was increasingly aware that he had accomplished the goals he had set for himself there, and he ultimately determined it was time for a new challenge in a new city, in a place where he and his family could create the kind of home they had dreamed of for so long. Canada appealed to them. They loved the countryside and were eager to escape from a large metropolis where they couldn’t afford to buy a home.

When Colin discovered that a Canadian research hospital—one with an international reputation comparable to that of his current employer—had begun to advertise for a new director of clinical information systems, he was intrigued, then excited, then quickly disappointed. The published position description stated that the employer was interested only in candidates who possessed advanced degrees, preferably a PhD, while Colin had risen to the top of his field with only a BA. When he and I first spoke, Colin remained interested in the position, but he didn’t think he should bother to apply. He could read, after all, and the employer wanted to hire someone with a PhD. I assured Colin that I could read as well, but I also explained that if we were to work together successfully, he
would have to adopt and take completely to heart the first rule of my Right Fit Method: Don’t make assumptions.

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