For the first time in many years, I had a professional job performance review with one of the company’s four owners today. It went very well. A 90-minute meeting turned out to take nearly twice that. Not because of my performance or that I’m a trouble-maker amongst the ranks, we actually had a productive, informative, frank, enjoyable conversation. For anyone that wonders (or cares), I was encouraged to continue the good work happening in the office and was given additional assignments and questions to ponder and for comment.
The point of this posting you might ask? The annual evaluation process with “The Company” involves employees filling out a self-evaluation. This evaluation has a rotating series of questions (the next guy will most likely not get the same set of questions) for response. Of the 15± questions, one answer in particular took a significant amount of my time. It was one that I’ve never really thought about and it caused several late nights of thinking, writing, and editing leading up to the appointment. (As far as I know, spelling and grammar did not count against me.)
How would you respond to this question?
If You Were Stranded on a Deserted Island But Could Have Any 3 Things…What 3 Things Would You Choose?
Give that a thunking would you. I tried to not state the obvious – cell phone, water, shelter, voluptuous scantily-clad beauty fanning me with a palm leaf, etc. – and think as an aspiring upper-management-with-this-company type of guy.
Here was my official personnel file response:
This one is an imagination stretch…here goes: With this question, I will take the position that getting off the deserted island is the ultimate goal.
1. A bottle of fine single-malt Scotch. “The Bottle” is symbolic representing a decision process. Pause and evaluate the consequences before making a rash decision (i.e. when to open the bottle). My personal collection of unopened single malts causes me slow down, read the labels, look at the shape and color of the bottles, understand the origin of the beverage, etc. The decision whether to or when to open the Bottle is another discussion. The rationale is: regardless how bleak the situation, taking the time to relax, enjoy, rationalize, and contemplate a right-decision strategy is instrumental in achieving the goal of getting off the island.
2. To understand physical relationships, map a direction, and maintain a moral bearing…a compass. My symbolic compass would be The Boy Scout Handbook. It teaches seizing opportunity and it contains everything one needs to live life as intended. Having family photographs tucked between the pages would serve as incentives to get off that island sooner.
3. A writing tablet. The realist perspective is that having a laptop would be nice however the battery would most likely be depleted before the exit strategy could be fully implemented. Therefore a tablet would be used to chronicle the experience, plan a strategy, map the island, and make note of the opportunities, obstacles, and constraints facing the execution of your plan to achieve a successful outcome.
I think the owner was caught completely off guard with my response. In fact those 3 things I listed are what extended our conversation beyond the time limit. With other reviews, he was accustomed to one or two word answers, as well as some employees wanting to list more than the 3 item limit (imagine that – must have been a Democrat).
I enjoy talking business strategy, coaching, and the like with others that share an equal or more passionate interest for business success. Our conversation also touched on each of our personal collection of the business, self-help, and self-improvement books that try not to collect dust on our respective bookshelves. We had experiences to share, examples to animate our stories, and yep, we did use several sports analogies (couple of guys you know) to emphasize our liberally-shared points. Maybe if we (owner and me) can agree to tag-team this new found rah-rah, pro-business, a-better-you gig, together we can take up Zig’s slack on the speaking circuit if and when he decides to retire (it could happen).