Throwing in the Towel

I had the chance last week to spend some time with legendary explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

You know who I’m talking about – the guy who cut his own frostbitten fingers off with a hacksaw.

Although I’m not planning on climbing Everest anytime soon, Britain's greatest living explorer had some hard-won advice that I enjoyed digesting, and I thought it might be relevant for you too. 

Sir Ran (as he prefers) talked at length about how he works out who he wants on his team. He looks for people who have the right motivation – that’s his most important thing.

As the wise explorer said, “You can teach skill, but you can’t teach character.”

At some point in every expedition, there’s a time when everyone’s inner voice starts telling them that they’re not going to make it – that they’re going to fail.

That’s the point when someone’s true motivation and character needs to be strong enough to overcome that weak inner voice and keep them going.

I know that business isn’t the north face of the Eiger, but to be successful, you still need to build a team and surround yourself with the right people. People who you can count on not to throw the towel in when the going gets a little tougher, as history tells us it surely will. 

Whatever role you’re looking to fill, it’s important to understanding someone’s motivations for working with you from the off. If the motivation isn’t right, then chances are they’ll let you down at some point.

We’ve all had it – I’ve seen it time and again with local businesses. That’s why so many people keep it in the family, because there’s this sense that family members won’t let you down.

I’ve seen that happen too though, so it’s not always the answer (and it’s MUCH messier when the sh*t hits the fan).

Whether it’s for installers or showroom staff, my advice is to hire slowly, assessing motivation. And, if you get it wrong, fire fast.

As soon as you get the feeling that someone’s not going to make the cut, take action. Don’t wait it out, the problem gets bigger and the conversation more difficult to have.

Short-term pain or long-term pain, those are your only options. 

And like Sir Ranulph with his hacksaw, I’d recommend short-term pain every time.