Are You Hungry?
September 22, 2015
There is one common denominator among successful people. Hunger. They have a desire to master or achieve something. They have a drive to propel themselves forward. They are willing to do everything necessary to achieve their vision. Successful people have set a higher standard for what they want from their lives. They have made the conscious decision to take action as they pursue their dreams.
When recruiting or assessing the strength of a team I am always curious about the level of hunger. It is my belief that the level of hunger -- in part -- can correlate to how quickly you can build and grow your business. It is the same for any individual; the hungrier people are the more successful they tend to be. This is not to say success is only contingent on hunger. Successful people - and teams - always display a mix of tangible skills and intangible qualities. Hunger is one of those intangibles. It is the most important of those intangibles.
I have a colleague who is faced with a hunger challenge. An employee on her team demonstrates the necessary skills to perform their role and has the potential to be better at his job, but progress just isn't being made. She has tried everything to connect with him. Every trick in the book has been deployed. Nothing is changing. He feels content with his level of performance. He feels this way despite the reality being explained to him that his performance isn't good enough for the rising demands of the business. There is a simple truth at play here "You can't teach hunger. People either have it or they don't." You can't motivate someone to do something. You can only set up conditions that will encourage and support them. You can inspire them but motivation is owned by and is dependent on the desire of the individual.
Motivation, if you really analyze it, means 'change.' Therefore, to motivate someone means to 'change them." We all know you can't do that. People have to be willing to change. Hungry people are those with the desire to change for the better. You simply can't teach that.
Why are we interested in hungry people? What exactly is it that they bring to a team?
- Hungry people jump right in. Both feet. They put everything on the line. I have heard it described as a poker analogy "hungry people push all their chips into the center of the table." Hungry people don't plan for failure. There is no back up plan. They don't spread themselves across multiple projects, but put their entire focus on one thing.
- Hunger makes them desire more. Hungry people are never satisfied. They are always looking at ways to make things better. They are never complacent. They strive for perfection, settling only for excellence.
- Hungry people find solutions, not excuses. They will work around obstacles. Taking a longer route if needed. They don't say "I can't" or "It's beyond my control." Hungry people are like the Energizer Bunny, they just won't stop. There is always a way, there's always a solution. They keep trying until they find it. Each failure or setback is a learning opportunity and a step closer to achievement.
- Hungry people are invested in themselves. They are always looking for ways to develop and grow. They seek counsel and advice from bosses and mentors. They want feedback on their performance. They want input on how to develop their strengths. Improvement is a motivator for them. Hungry people seek out opportunities and change.
- Hungry people are more prepared. Curiosity is linked to hunger. Hungry people are intrigued by how things work. They have a desire to investigate and learn. They will seek to understand in great detail the job they do and how it contributes to the business. Hungry people believe in preparation as a general rule of life.
- Hungry people don't require a lot of management. They are so self-motivated that they will push themselves harder than you could ever push them. Hungry people are the drivers on the team. They'll even challenge you to be better than you are now.
You need people who are going to push themselves and your team to the next level. If you don't hire hungry people then you can't expect your team to grow. Here are some ways you can check someone's motivation (their hunger) when you're hiring:
- Take a really good look at their work history. Hungry people want more. They want to move up and make a bigger contribution. This is often evident in their promotion history? Have they moved up the chain? Did they change jobs for advancement? Really understand their career. Have they moved upwards? Are they making more valuable contributions in their roles as they advance?
- Find out about their outside interests. Hungry people aren't simply hungry at work but in every aspect of their lives. Hungry people tend to always have new and personally intriguing pursuits. What are they? Self-development is important to hungry people both inside and outside of work.
- Understand their failures. Hunger keeps people focused despite inevitable obstacles. Understand how they view failure. How did they overcome significant obstacles? Why are they proud of those achievements? What was their lowest point at work, and what did they do about it?
Being -- and staying -- hungry is an essential quality for achieving your dreams. As individuals. As teams. As whole businesses. A wise mentor once described hunger in the most powerful way I have ever heard. He compared hunger to a river. When you think of a river you always see the water flowing. That's all it knows and all it does. A river is forever flowing. When there is something in its way and it can't get through it will take an alternative route. It has to find a way to keep flowing. Rivers always reach their destinations. There is simply no other possible outcome. Hungry people are just like the river. They will always find a way to reach their destination. It's all they know how to do.
Go on, flow like a river!