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Life is not fair.  We are reminded of that inconvenience on a regular basis, usually about the time we are feeling so supremely good about things.  What could go wrong?

I have always believed that the inevitable setbacks, most especially those that occur when you are feeling good about your superiority, are God’s way of reminding you that She has a sense of humor.

What is important is what we do with the setback, the disappointment.  In a broader sense, how we react to dismay or frustration when someone fails to fulfill a commitment or to produce the desired or expected results, is a big determinant of our professional brand.

My dad, like so many depression era veterans of World War II and a small business owner, overcame more than his share of obstacles and disappointments, big and small.  The one thing that always amazed me was his resilience, his ability to think about what had happened, throw back a cup of coffee, drag on his Camel, and then move on with a smile.  It was not in him to let a setback deter him from being the best retail baker he could be, and to take care of his loyal customers.

The great quotes about overcoming adversity or crushing disappointment are so numerous that I can’t choose just one to sufficiently reaffirm my point.  As an ardent devotee of America’s pastime, I prefer the example of baseball’s distinguished Ted Williams, one of the greatest hitters of all time who toiled for the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park.  Columnist George Will and others have written that Williams was the consummate pro, who, on a hot August afternoon with few in the stands, would always try to do his job as if it was the final game of the World Series and a championship was on the line.

Any hospital CEO would love to have an employee roster full of that type of person.  If healthcare workers took Mr. Williams’ discipline to heart and practice there would probably be a marked improvement in the quality of care and a much needed reduction in the horrendous number of preventable deaths in hospitals, but alas, that is a rant for another day.

As I reflect on my day, and the stories I listened to of several former CEOs turned candidates, I think back to my dad and his passion for doing it right and his incredible resilience that, by virtue of birth, flows through my veins.

Thanks Dad.  Life can be unfair and the competition fierce.  You taught me well that we have little time for a pity party.  Your gift has been an ongoing blessing in my life.

A little perspective….

Candidates frequently voice their frustration with executive recruiters, especially when the process takes too long, the communication is poor, and/or they were not selected, their Herculean efforts notwithstanding.  That life is not fair theme is an easy fall back excuse.  In this case, platitudes have no place so I ask those candidates to consider this: recruiters and candidates have a great deal in common, we are both looking for work; for recruiters, it is an every day reality.