Updated: Feb 18, 2021
When my wife and I tell people we run our home like a business, we mean it.
Yes we operate on a budget and assign tasks to all contributing members (which excludes the 9-month old mooch), but I also interview potential candidates before filling new positions like wife/daughter and can fire people at will...
Okay maybe not, HOWEVER, there are serious take-aways from properly filtering your choice in spouse before marriage. Here are three tools whether your searching for a soul mate, a business partner, or a new employee.
1. Select narrow traits first. Then broaden the scope of your search.
A lot of people first gain interest in a potential partner based on immediately apparent and common traits. Then the person begins to investigate more subtle characteristics as time goes on.
If later down the road they discover some less obvious traits are NOT what they're looking for, then it's over. All of that time spent with someone they didn't end up marrying.
They might think: "Well first things first. If I'm going to be interested at all, he/she has to ______ ."
Then they proceed to fill in the blank with traits like:
- "Be at least 6 feet tall, so I'll start by looking for 6 foot tall men"
- "Make $100,000 a year. I'll start by looking for wealthy professionals."
- "Have an good body and beautiful long hair. I'll start dating someone who checks that box and then see if we're compatible."
- "Be very polite and friendly."
I understand the thought process of people I just described, but it's flawed.
It's OK to have "must-have" standards, even high ones. That's a good thing (although I'm not a fan of shallow standards).
Here is the problem:
– In the USA alone there are approximately 16 million adult males over 6 feet tall.
– About 15% of individual Americans make $100k... that's 30 million people (including men and women).
– Nice body and features are subjective, but anecdotally, I would say this is conservatively 20% of the population. Let's estimate 40 million adults including men and women.
– Politeness can feel quite rare in Albuquerque, but the reality is at least a quarter of people have decent manners, and probably closer to half. That's 100 million US adults.
In other words: how many people do you have to date until you find someone who meets your OTHER standards? Your more important standards than what first meet the eye?
I was attracted to my wife before I ever met her... before I ever saw her. I had no looks, no voice, and no humor to base the attraction on. So how did I know I liked her? It was based solely based on a conversation I overheard between two friends of mine that went something like this:
Friend A: I think she is just a bit too ambitious for him.
Friend B: Yeah, I agree. She is very driven and confident and she really isn't focused on dating right now.
Friend A: Well she really just wants to do the right thing and that scares some people away.
My thoughts: Who could they possibly be talking about? A girl our age who is TOO ambitious? Someone who ISN'T desperately searching for a boyfriend to fill a void in her life? Someone who is confident and driven by integrity? This must be a unicorn because I've never met someone around my age (18 at the time) who could be described this way.
I had to step in at this point and demand answers about this mystery girl. I thought to myself that if they were right, then this is someone I may end up marrying someday. Several months later, I met her by chance when I began helping out with the organization that she founded. They were right... she was confident, driven, and motivated by doing good first.
By the way, she was pretty too (to my relief because I knew I liked her already). I also found her more beautiful each day I got to know her more, but I don't want to get too mushy here.
More importantly: I got the order right. It's easy to find a girl who is "pretty".
Show pictures of random strangers' faces to your average friend and with each picture ask them "Is this person attractive? Yes or no?". I will go out on a limb here and guess they will say yes anywhere from 30-70% of the time. Even at 30%... that doesn't exactly narrow things down much.
Now give them a list a people they know and try the experiment with a new question: "Is this person extremely confident, ambitious, and motivated by integrity?"
I'm guessing 3% or less.
Let's translate this to the business world. Let's say you're hiring for an ambitious new venture. Which job posting requirement is going to narrow your results and stop you from wasting hours trying to filter applicants?
A: "A 4-year degree"
B: "Advanced excel skills including pivot tables and macros PLUS experience starting and growing your own business"
C: "You can sell ice to an Eskimo, speak Arabic, and can juggle swords"
If you start out by looking for people with A, you'll need a serious applicant tracking system, days blocked off for interviews, and you'll also unknowingly reject some incredibly smart and capable applicants.
If you go with B or C, there will be fewer applicants, but you will have no problem narrowing them down to the exact person you need.
Start your search for the rare and crucial skills first. Then train for the other common skills or trust they will be there anyways. Don't start with a wide funnel that narrows. Start with a narrow funnel that widens.
2. Let your worst be known up front before things get too serious.
I was late to our first Valentine's day date. Within weeks of dating, she found out I operate on a little something known as Lebanese Standard Time (LST). LST is easy to calculate though, it's always just local time + 1 hour.
Furthermore, I introduced her to my family pretty early, which should have been the final nail in the coffin, but it wasn't. You know what they say. Every family has crazy in it. If you don't think yours does, that's because it's you. (I see you Aunt Becky).
Does the job you're hiring for require long hours and difficult customers? Say that.
Is there a lot of unpleasant travel, minimal bonuses, and has nobody gotten a raise since the turn of the millennia? Say that.
Don't embellish and pump it up. Paint the truest picture you can. Yes, you will have fewer applicants. For many if you reading this, that is a good thing.
Why waste time filtering and disqualifying non-serious applicants when they can do it for you themselves?
3. Make sure the other person is completely aware of your intentions.
Are you looking for someone to help you raise a family of 10? Be up front.
On one of my first few dates with Sam, and on several subsequent dates, she informed me she wanted 8 kids. True story...
Her intentions were clear. Enough said.
Are you looking for someone to take over the law firm in a few years?
Do you want your new welder to move into an operational role at some point?
Do you want your niece to take over the family business?
Start the conversation early.
Follow these rules to choose the right people in your life. Reach out if you want help.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Photograph by my incredibly talented friend at kaitlynheacock.com