Do You Happen To Life Or Does Life Happen To You?

I've been interviewing a lot of people as Pristine continues to grow. I used to refrain from looking for a single theme across all candidates for all positions. A single theme or trait across all candidates cynically implies that candidates can be categorized as either yes or no. And that means there is a binary reality to what we're looking for:

Do you happen to life, or does life happen to you?

I haven't found a single-word adjective that encapsulates this notion, though terms such as "cohesion" and "story" are acceptable approximations.

To really understand the meaning of this question, I'll provide a brief anecdote of the interviewee that brought this notion to mind. We'll call the candidate Bob to maintain anonymity.

Bob found Pristine through Indeed. Bob has deployed over a dozen health IT solutions in the past decade. He knows electronic medical records, radiology imaging, inpatient billing, and telemedicine extremely well. By most accounts, Bob should be able to lead Pristine deployments in hospitals.

I pressed him to understand why he moved from company to company (he wasn't a 3-month job hopper) over the last decade. His answer was always something along the lines of "this new opportunity landed in front of me, and I thought to myself, why not?"

I have no problem with wanting to explore and try new things. I encourage all Pristine employees to explore their curiosity. I don't have a problem with the fact that Bob left his former roles because he was bored. I encourage all Pristine employees to leave when the join if they aren't learning.

We didn't hire Bob. Although he probably would have done a reasonable job, Bob would never excel at Pristine. Why? Excellence doesn't happen by chance. Although Bob is a reasonably intelligent person with relevant experience to our business, Bob never demonstrated excellence, and more importantly, the potential to exhibit excellence. The current of life carried Bob downstream. Bob never fought the current.

On the other hand, if Bob were a person that "happens to life," his response to my questions about why he moved through multiple companies would have been something along the lines of "Although Acme Corporation was growing and I was doing well there, I craved something more. I knew that I wanted to grow my career, so I picked up programming on the side, built a few websites, and learned SQL over the course of 6 months. After learning all of that, I spent 4 months looking and turned down 3 job offers before joining Acme2 corporation. The entire process of getting ready to leave Acme corporation took almost a year."

Nothing about this hypothetical scenario implies that Bob is an exceptionally talented individual. But the paragraph above implies that Bob can, with time and focus, become exceptional at something. It implies that Bob can resist the current of life.

Our team at Pristine is rather young. Some of us have done exceptional things. Others haven't -- yet. I have no doubt that all of us will. If Pristine takes off in a major way, our team will develop some exceptional traits and abilities here. If Pristine doesn't take off, they will develop those traits elsewhere.

All good stories have a sense of purpose, which is derived from a flow. Stories have introductions, ebbs and flows, a protagonist, a series of challenges, and a conclusion: how did you end up here in front of Pristine?

If you come in to interview at Pristine, please be prepared tell us your story.