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Getting A Little Help From Our Friends

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By Mary Ann Faremouth,

 

The Second Step of the Faremouth Method is “Ask Better Questions.”  During these interesting times of Covid-19, I think we are all asking questions on how we can better cope during this time of adversity.  Loving music as much as I do, certain songs seem to resonate with me when I’m dealing with changing times and uncertainty. The Beatles song, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” from the Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band, somehow has had an interesting twist for me lately.  Because of quarantine, the friends that give me the most comfort these days are my “furry friends.”

 

According to the United States Humane Society, nearly 70% of households have a pet. A lot of evidence has been reported lately showing how beneficial pets are to our health and overall well-being – mentally, physically and socially. This can be especially true during times of hardship and difficulty. Managing difficult experiences seems to be easier to handle when we have the unconditional love and loyalty of a family pet.  Pet owners report the positive experiences received from animals when going through adverse circumstances.  Much research has been underway exploring the impact of animal interaction with those experiencing personal adversity, such as PTSD, cancer, and a variety of other medical conditions, and has been linked to managing blood pressure.

 

My two large dogs, a Yellow Lab, Hailley, and an Australian Shepherd, Brodie, have filled my house with joy and unbiased love and allowed me to grow in ways I never knew I could. Being in a position of working with many people day-in and day-out who are experiencing much hardship from job losses, salary cuts, fear of staying healthy, both mentally and physically etc., these dogs have taught me some very valuable lessons that I thought I might share what just might help others as well.

 

Lesson One – The Importance of Good Habits

 

Good habits provide us with routines, structure and discipline in all areas of life.  When I’m speaking to a candidate who has just lost their job, I always start by asking them what kind of plan they have to begin their job search. A written down plan can help us move toward our goals, stay focused, and track our success. If they don’t have one, we quickly talk strategy and begin to formulate that plan.  I do have a workbook coming out soon that will assist candidates by asking a series of personalized questions to help them on their job quest. These times of quarantine have allowed us to have chunks of time to fill that we probably aren’t accustomed to having. It’s important to use this time as productively as possible.

 

Having my dogs has allowed me to not stray too far from our regular routine. Taking them out on their long walks, feeding them at the same time, etc., gives us all some together time to get exercise, soak up Vitamin D outside, to see some of the neighbors on the block and exchange greetings. These routines have built some normalcy into an incredibly abnormal time.

 

 

Lesson Two – Practice Mindfulness

 

This practice of Mindfulness, or “The Power Of Now” made famous by the book by Eckhart Tolle, has not been something that came easy for me.  I have always been the type of person who is always looking at involving myself in activity or planning for what the future may bring and how I can make that future better by my activities. Since I have started practicing Mindfulness, meditation and Yoga, etc., it allows me to slow down and get into better alignment with myself and enjoy the moment and have more meaning and purpose to my life.  I’ve also noticed when I’m talking to candidates and hearing their stories, I am able to focus on what they are saying and hear THEIR story because my mind is not racing to the next client call or the thought of how I will have to explain to that candidate they may have to take a pay cut in the current market, etc.  I still make that next client call or advise the candidate about salary restrictions in the new work world, but I do it now in a more relaxed way.

 

One of the things I’ve learned from these dogs is that when they have one of their toys, they are fully present with that toy.  If my Yellow Lab is lying his head on my foot under my computer as I’m working, he’s happy as a clam to be with me and nothing else matters.  When I pick up the leash to take him out for a walk, he’s wagging his tail so much and jumping for joy to be with me and he’s fully present with the experience.  No matter what went on before Covid or what will come after, these dogs remind me that what we are experiencing now is pretty special, too.

 

 

Lesson Three – Show Gratitude

 

Instead of always focusing on what my life was like before Covid-19, I’m learning to show gratitude for what this experience is teaching me. I’m focusing on being grateful for the new experiences this pandemic is allowing me to have.  I am able to actually see my customers in Germany or Canada in Zoom meetings now that we would have never considered doing before.  I am grateful for the new training I am receiving (almost forced) in the digital world. All of my clients are doing first interviews on Zoom or FaceTime or another similar platform.  I am learning how to be grateful to learn this new technology practice and advise my candidates and clients how to structure these interviews for the mutual benefit of both parties.  The lighting has to be right, the posture has to be upright, and candidates need to make sure they do their research on the companies before hand to present themselves in a knowledgeable way.  With it being an “Employers Market” and employers having the pick of the litter, candidates must up their game to compete in this challenging market.  It is important to show how much we value our relationships.  Networking and keeping in contact with our previous contacts and showing them how much we appreciate them during these tough times proves to be a very important and rewarding experience these days.  Just this week, a candidate I was referred got the job because he DID keep in touch with previous employers and expressed to them in times past and recently how much he appreciated what he learned from them.  One of his previous bosses happened to be working for the client I was screening for and because of his “grateful attitude” he beat out another candidate with more industry experience because his attitude of gratitude was always present.

 

These dogs are the epitome of being those who express gratitude.  Whenever they are given a treat those wagging tails and excitable gestures always make me smile. When I walk in the door after a long day and am greeted by these happy dogs, it makes me feel so loved and appreciated.

 

There can be various solutions to keep us from being a member of the “Lonely Hearts Club” during this pandemic.  While this song of the 60s may have had other factions associated with it, we can find inspiration with “A Little Help From Our Friends.”  We can learn the important lessons our clients, co-workers, family, friends, and even our pets, may be indirectly teaching us to become a better version of ourselves in the process.  We are also finding how connected we are during these unconnected times as I’m reminded of that old advertising line for “Ma Bell” to “reach out and touch someone.”

Our furry friends remind us how our connections with them and others can be our ticket to more productive and meaningful experiences.  Throughout history, people have been adaptable to their situations.  We need that connection to others in order to thrive on all levels.

 

According to Faremouth’s company website, “Mary Ann is the founder and CEO of Faremouth and Company. As a leader in the national recruiting community and a placement specialist since 1982, Mary Ann knows what it takes to get the job done. She is 2016 President of Houston Independent Personnel Consultant Group, is a member of the NASPD, NAPCA, the National Association of Personnel Consultants, and is also a highly regarded speaker and writer. Her articles can be found in various industry related publications. She founded Jobs: Houston Magazine in 1997, one of the most popular employment magazines in Texas for over 7 years.”  She is the author of the critically acclaimed and multi-award winning book Revolutionary Recruiting

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