Kettlebells and the Parallels to Sourcing and Recruiting

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Mar 17, 2011

My Introduction to Kettlebell Training

Three years ago I had a bone spur ground out of my right shoulder. I waited longer than I should have to move forward with the surgery because I was getting married and didn’t want my arm in a sling for the wedding photos. My own sense of vanity overrode my common sense, although the pictures did come out great. There was a very intense 3-times-a-day rehab phase where I wondered, “Is this shoulder ever going to regain full motion, and will it ever be the same?” I have been working out for 30 years so not being as strong or active initially was a bummer. The kettlebell turned out to be an experiment that proved to be the solution.

Off I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods where I bought my 16kg Kettlebell (recommended starting weight for most men) and a little DVD. 16kg or 35 lbs., not much for a guy used to incline benching 315lbs in a workout…or so I thought. 45 minutes later I was drenched and promptly lost eight pounds in the first two weeks doing this “simple” “basic” routine. My mental gears went off and began to equate basic with fundamental, which sent me off into some thoughts… “There is something here that feels so much like sourcing/recruiting.” The results were great and I decided to dive deeper, buy some books, begin educating myself, and follow my intuition, which ultimately proved very accurate. (Note to self, don’t overthink things too much.) 

From Newbie to Intermediate

A year later I was lurking on and occasionally getting enough courage to post on a blog which turned out to belong to one of six Master Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructors in the world. After about a year, Geoff, who works by referral only, agreed to essentially allow me to come to his studio to train with him. He was ready to assess my condition, mental toughness, work ethic, and discipline based on what happened that day and my subsequent training. That first session was quite the eye opener; some of the things I thought I could do well under the more trained eye needed some correction. This could equate to someone saying, “Oh I know all about Boolean, I’m a master, I can do that.” Okayyyyyy – if you say so.

Approaching a year into the program, the results have been fantastic. January saw a 300% increase in strength and endurance followed by my coach progressing me upward two levels in weight (32kg to 40kg) followed by another 300% increase in February. I told him last week I thought that qualified me to remain his student for at least another month. He shook his head and said, “Yes, I believe you have made the grade.”

As much as one would think the creation of Force = Mass X Acceleration would involve gut-wrenching straining, the system I learned is all about safety and technique. The rationale being if you are safe in your movements as supported by the pursuit of perfecting your technique, the muscles are engaged as intended and the strength comes automatically. So I would equate this with the sourcing activity creating the following result: we normally need this many candidates for X interviews for Y hires.

Note the inclusion of acceleration, and in the business world “speed kills,” so I found investigating how that speed is generated to be physically interesting. With kettlebells, the speed is actually generated in part by good form and “patterning” the movement such that the form does not break down as the load increases. Translate that thought process to the recruiting/sourcing world and we see the importance of pure technique and a solid knowledge of how to deploy that technique on command. Sometimes the old becomes the new, so I decided to revisit my own technique and start patterning some of my fundamentals to see if this philosophy worked in the sourcing/recruiting world.

In layman’s terms, I began practicing important things to build the skill and confidence to more fully leverage them and yes, the speed did increase. Not too terribly entertaining to write and rewrite syntax or record that positioning statement for the 200th time into a digital recorder, but the results started popping up. My metrics in a training class increased 400% in a 4-month period….hmmm maybe this is so simple I don’t understand it, but something seems to be working.

Slow Is Fast and Going Backwards Can Vault You Forward

Sometimes you have to go backward to go forward. I worked with my coach to disassemble and reassemble my swings (which are one of the core exercises in the Kettlebell training world), paying particular attention to every detail. My stance, my grip, my initiation of the backswing, my transition to the front swing, the arc of the swing, and attempting to encourage my body to activate the right muscle groups in the right sequence. This caused me to zero in on the fundamentals I need to shore up further in order to move toward the expanded and yet balanced skill sets I was desiring to develop this year. So, sometimes slow can be fast. We addressed those issues; some of them I truly didn’t grasp at the time, but then the results started going off the chart.

This reminded me of my early sourcing days: “I don’t completely understand how this works, but there are the people.” Another lesson for me was that slow can be very fast if it involves topics such as sequence, knowing the fundamentals, and the confidence you build from breaking something all the way down to the molecular level and then reassembling it. I even started setting up and breaking down my mobile recruiting tools in a variety of environments to learn the nuances, although I did check myself by calling Michael Marlatt to see if I had gone off the deep end. His response: “You are making your gear an extension of your body. Good.” During that process I unearthed several things that did not work and a couple new ways to get myself connected way faster.

If there were a Silver Bullet I would have used it, but it all boiled down to practice and some experimenting.

The Same – Yet So Different

“Same – but Different” would be another theme that runs between the two topics. I have seen the value of keeping everything the same and changing only one dimension, because it allows you to clearly identify the ensuing results. In kettlebelling, we might have a training session of swings for lower reps with a heavier weight and then do the same regimen with lighter weights for patterning/endurance through higher rep schemes or by intensifying the workout through shorter rest periods. In sourcing we might write syntax with an OR statement (sales OR “sales manager” OR “territory manager” OR “key account manager” OR “district sales manager” OR “business development”) and use that to “rake” (my term) against the job titles, then change only the source company to see if that one change causes the screen to light up a little more…provided your highlighter is turned on, of course. So turn those highlighters on.

In Sourcing and Recruiting, if you have served your time in the trenches, it is not all glorious. I think we can all relate to that in some way. There are those days when there are very “spirited debates,” deadlines, and changes galore, and the very quick pace can wear you down if your fundamentals are not properly in place. I have experienced that, and when you realize you really need to have a skill more polished than it is, then there is certainly a surge of adrenalin to deliver the goods. The kettlebell journey for me has toughened me up mentally; what would have devastated me two years ago for the most part now bounces off me like bulletproof glass. So I have decided to follow this path of fundamentalism to see what else I learn along the way.

Time now to rehearse, prepare, and hit the phone. I still LOVE my computers, my networks, and my software tools but I want to see what emerges as a “Pure Hybrid”, fully leveraging the Internet and the phone.  So off to the phone “gym” I go to put in my reps, which in the early stages have their moments but I do see the muscle slowly building up.

Look for the Interconnectivity

My parting comment is to look at your hobbies or activities you engage in at a deep level and see how you can leverage what you learn in that area back into your sourcing/recruiting practice. I would be willing to guess there are some answers laying out there right in front of you ….right now.

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