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Category / Working Life

Got milk? 12 August, 2015 at 5:53 pm

This morning a friend posted:

Help a brother out with a job application!

“Describe a time when you had to be self-motivated to achieve an important goal. What was the goal? What were the challenges? What strengths and/or learning opportunities did you identify as part of this process?”

What kind of examples do people use for these?

My initial response was brief: “Something about making breakfast when there was no milk left in the fridge.”

Then I wrote the following (with a few minor edits made since).

Eating breakfast is of course important. The challenge is cereal without milk. Having run out of milk is clearly an operational oversight. However, despite the early hour, lack of energy and disappointment, I knew that I could draw on my internal resilience and resourcefulness to come up with a solution.

There were several options. One was to go to work without breakfast. Yes, I would survive, but I knew that it would take the edge off my productivity and creative output.

An unpleasant option was to use water in place of milk. I don’t know if you have ever eaten your standard breakfast with water in place of milk, but I can assure you it is worse than not eating it in normal circumstances.

A third option was to go to the supermarket, however this trip would be fairly time costly, and involve driving, which is a little financially and environmentally irresponsible for just an item or two.

The best option was to use my excellent interpersonal skills and rouse my neighbour to ask if they could spare some. In return I offered to invite them over for dinner that evening. They had recently moved in and I had not had a chance to get to know them well. The milk was offered, breakfast was saved, and the satisfied feeling propelled an excellent day at work, completing tasks early, including assisting a colleague with a backlog of customer callbacks. I left the office slightly early and used the extra time to restock my groceries – as well as a replacement for the neighbour, of course – and collect ingredients for a nice meal to cook. The meal was lovely and it turns out the neighbour and I get along very well, and we hatched a plan to do combined grocery shopping with home delivery. Split between two households, the delivery fee is quite reasonable, and the time saved on shopping allows us more time to have BBQ’s together, enjoying some music we both enjoy and discuss our hobbies. And I now also never run out of milk.

What I learned is that obstacles and problems can be turned into opportunities. Even a small problem can be just the catalyst required to reexamine outdated processes and result in a better life.

This experience of course translates directly to the business environment, where challenges must be met on a daily basis, and to obtain a competitive edge, improvements to existing systems must be looked for occasionally, explored and implemented.

Perhaps not a true story, but I think I might try this, or something like it, some time.