Preparation turns a tornado into a gentle breeze
By Harvey Mackay
A farmer who owned land along the Atlantic seacoast constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic because they dreaded the awful storms that raged across the ocean, wreaking havoc on buildings and crops. As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer.
“Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him.
“Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired the man. The man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!”
The man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”
Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarps. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, the doors were barred, and the shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away.
The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed so he could also sleep while the wind blew.
Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? When you are prepared – mentally and physically – you have nothing to fear.
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you are prepared, you can sleep more easily. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it.”
That statement is particularly pertinent for those who are experiencing wind storms, like changing jobs. Preparation is critical for those times when it feels like the roof is about to blow off.
Here’s something I developed to help job-hunters prepare for interviews — and the eventual job offer. You can’t be over-prepared. I call it the Mackay Sweet Sixteen.
- Describe your ideal job – the position you would most like to have. (Include title, responsibilities, to whom you would report, who would report to you.)
- Describe your ideal company (size, industry, culture, location, structure).
- Where do you want to be in your career in three to five years?
- What do you want your next job to do for you that your last job didn’t do?
- What kinds of growth should a new job offer (promotions, training, challenges)?
- What skills will you be able to add to your resume while you have this job?
- Why should a company want to hire you? (What is special about you as a job candidate?)
- What personal and professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
- What do you least want to be asked in an interview – the questions you dread the most?
- How will you handle the tough questions?
- What compensation, including salary and benefits do you want to earn and can you legitimately ask for?
- What are the most important benefits other than salary that would prompt you to go to work for a new company?
- What tools and resources can you draw on to help you through your job transition?
- What can you say in an interview that would really set you apart from other candidates for your ideal position?
- What could your current employer do for you that would prevent you from looking for another job in the first place? (Have you asked?)
- How will you know when you have become a success?
In regard to the last question, I would say you have achieved success when you can sleep when the wind blows.
Mackay’s Moral: The will to succeed is preceded by the will to prepare.