Are we doomed to repeat?

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

In any human resources course or recruitment training, you will come across a behavioural interviewing premise that goes something like this: past performance predicts future behaviour.

If you are sitting on the opposite side of the table being interviewed, you will recognize it in questions that start like this: “Give me an example of…” or “Tell me about a time when…”. And instead of what your textbooks or training suggest you should say, what the interviewer really wants to know is when the rubber hit the road, what did you actually do? Cause they know that research shows  past performance predicts future behaviour.

Even if you’ve never read an HR book or sat through interview training, you are most certainly familiar with how much easier it is to talk about a thing, than to do it (I can provide no more effective example of this than in parenting: “do as I say, not as I do!”). Not to mention that there are far more emotional dynamics and extenuating circumstances in a real-life scenario than you will ever find in a thesis topic or project.

What would you do if…” can elicit a very different, and arguably more accurate response, than “What did you do when…” .

(As an aside, you may be asking, “so does this mean I’ll never get the job if I admit to making a mistake?“ No, because these questions are very often rounded out with the redemption prompt: “Would you do anything differently if faced with this situation again?”. )

But on a grander scale, does this mean we are doomed to repeat past mistakes? If past performance predicts future behaviour, does that mean our decision making methodology is somewhat involuntary or sub-conscious?

This premise has seen much success in the employment context, hence its frequent use, but as a stay-at-home mom, I now wonderof its validity in our personal, emotionally-charged world of relationships, parenting, and family. Do we apply the same decision-making methodologies as sub-consciously at home that we do in the workplace?

A friend of mine recently asked for my opinion on an emotionally charged decision he was making. A decision upon which I had a very clear and opposing opinion than the one he was hoping to hear.

I knew if I told him straight out he was about to make a mistake, he would quickly slot me into the camp of non-supporters and choose not to ask for my opinion again. Simply put, he could not see the forest for the trees, and was about to demonstrate future behaviour that was consistent with his past performance.

I had to break the pattern. So I reversed the role, putting myself in his shoes, and described all the details of my own (imaginary but coincidentally similar) decision, including the (wrong) side I was leaning towards in making the decision, and asked him, “what should I do?”. He was very quick to apply a moral compass to the problem that had the clarity of no personal emotions involved (and happily, was consistent with the right choice for his own life). Wow.

So are we doomed to repeat? Does it make a difference if the decision is emotionally clouded? Do we make choices differently if it is a domestic decision as oppose to professionally based, or is our methodology hard-wired?

Makes me want to return to work just to test out a new model in interviewing 🙂


New Year’s Promises from a mother of four

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

At dinner the other night my husband brings up the topic of New Year’s resolutions, and asks the kids what they plan to resolve to do better in 2012.  Initially, the kids confuse New Years with Lent and resolve to give up chocolate for 40 days. My husband looks to me for help, to which I reply, “I hope to be able to walk through the house without having anything stick to my feet!” (hoping my not-so-subtle message for my family to clean up after themselves will hit home). After a long stare, my husband recovers and says, “okay then, so Mommy plans to wear slippers for all of 2012, what do you kids resolve to do?”.

Later I got to thinking about what would be a good resolution for me to make for 2012. Very quickly I found myself sliding downward in an avalanche of choices, and I thought to myself, maybe I should write ALL these down, pin them to a spinning dartboard, and each week, I will throw a dart and allow my weekly priority to be chosen. Sounds good right?  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

I resolve to allow the pile of clean laundry needing to be folded to only get as high as my toddler, not my 8 year old.

I resolve to discourage the dirty laundry piles from reaching beyond the laundry room doorframe.

I resolve not to get so distracted by my social networking  that it takes the children’s behaviour barometer to rise for me to realize it is 5pm and I need to get supper started.

I resolve to stop justifying to myself that I deserve all the amazing cappuccino and latte concoctions I have become addicted to drinking in the mid-afternoon hours.

I resolve to allow my eldest child some slack in the rope when he insists on taking on greater responsibility, even if it may endanger my sense of better judgement

I resolve to fight the inclination to just stand at the door and toss a new item into the far-too-cluttered pantry instead of taking the opportunity to tidy it.

I resolve to stop feeling the need to carry my Blackberry with me everywhere I go, including the laundry room, washroom, and garage so that it may incur less paint chips when I drop it.

I resolve to keep my kitchen cleaner (feel like I’m cheating on this one thanks to Norwex)

I resolve to water my house plants more frequently so they don’t silently scream to house guests to rescue them.

I resolve to make good use of the gifts people choose for me (especially my beautiful new red wine glasses)

I resolve to make my bed every morning so as to better resist the urge to nap in it in the afternoon.

I resolve to avoid using the activist approach when tackling differing opinions on topics I feel strongly about

I resolve to stop pretending I don’t swear due to having four children and better focus my efforts on swearing only when they are not within ear shot.

I resolve to changing out of my pyjamas even if I am not leaving the house.

I resolve to progress to brushing my teeth, combing my hair, and washing my face once I have mastered the resolution above.

I resolve to making eye contact and if my hands are free, embracing my husband when he comes home from work, rather than concentrating on my juggling act and shouting instructions on how he can join in.

I resolve to talk less and do more so I’m not such a hypocrite when I tell my kids to do the same

I resolve to remember that I am a parent, not a supervisor, and recognize when my children are expressing themselves, regardless of the mess it makes or how long it takes to clean up


But seriously…..

I resolve to recognize God’s beautiful subtlety and appreciate how He chooses to share things with me.

I resolve to remember to love first and always, even when it’s the furthest thing from my mind.

And I resolve to forgive, as Jesus taught us, cause life is short and God has big plans for those of us that can.


The Help

January 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

So I just finished reading The Help. Terrific book. I f you haven’t read it yet, you should.

As I am reading it however, I can’t help wondering to myself, what did these women do all day? They have “the help” look after the cleaning, the cooking, the child care, the laundry, the baking, the ironing, the silver polishing (not that I have any of that to do, but still!) and any other need that may arise during the daily routine.

Of course, there is the fundraising through the women’s league, and the weekly bridge club that needs tending. And dreaming of new ways to further discriminate between themselves and “the help” seems to cause endless exhaustion for them.  But as I compare daily life in this book compared to what the mothers in my circle accomplish nowadays, it is staggering to realize the differences in the times. (Note: it is not lost on me that as I type I am sampling from a delicious Rheo Thompson box generously bestowed during a visit with friends last night). 

I feel compelled to congratulate all my mother friends who, without “the help” run endless parenting marathons in the hopes of raising charming and well-rounded children, often while juggling a career, volunteer schedule, or children’s extra-curricular schedules, and putting nutritious meals on the table that dodge all the modern obesity- inducing, allergy-triggering, cancer-causing ingredients we become made aware of only after-the-fact. 

Life was different back then; not to mention fraught with human rights tragedies that will bring you to tears.  As I reach for another interesting looking flavour in my Rheo Thompson box and contemplate which household job against which I am procrastinating the most, I am grateful for the evolution of the times, I am hopeful for further evolution that will remedy the many human rights tragedies still being experienced, and I feel blessed for the opportunity to have read a book that provides such an authentic and compelling reminder of the value of everyday people.

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