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The Distinction Between Experience and Success

Updated: Jan 18

"Never wait for trouble" - Chuck Yeager


06/05/2023


What is the most crucial factor when hiring a Leader? At Misura Group, we look for the candidate's proven history of success. While a degree, certification, or number of years of experience might be on your list of must-haves, does it outweigh the impact of a candidate's success in a similar environment? 


Consider this example from NASA:


On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier at a time when the fastest fighter planes struggled to reach 500 MPH. Yeager's most outstanding achievement was on December 12, 1953, when he flew his Bell X-1A at Mach 2.435, 1650 miles per hour, over Edwards Airforce Base. The flight did not go as planned as the aircraft spun out of control on all three axes, plummeting 51,000 ft in 51 seconds before he regained control at 25,000 ft and landed safely. Scientists believe Yeager's body withstood 8x G forces, meaning a 200-pound body would feel the weight of 1600 pounds. Imagine battling through that trauma to regain control of a damaged aircraft and land safely, traveling at 1600 miles per hour. https://www.chuckyeager.com/history/testing-limits


Fast forward to April of 1959, at the Mercury 7 project, the development of the world's first astronauts under the newly formed NASA. The first astronauts are America’s heroes as seven legendary names were glamorized in the 1983 movie The Right Stuff: Navy Lieutenant Scott Carpenter, Air Force Captain Gordon Cooper, Marine Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn, Air Force Captain Gus Grissom, Navy Lieutenant Commander Wally Schirra, Navy Lieutenant Commander Alan Shepard, and Air Force Captain Deke Slayton. Why did the list not include Chuck Yeager? It was not his old age as revisionist history was spun to control NASA's image. Alan Shepard was only nine months younger than Yeager, Wally Schirra was one month younger, and John Glenn was 19 months older than Yeager. NASA believed that "The Right Stuff" commanded a college degree, and Yeager stood only with his high school degree from Hamlin, WV. Yeager was the most successful person in the world in exhibiting the physical and mental prowess of being an Astronaut. We call it the "Proven History of Success." https://www.businessinsider.com/14-reasons-chuck-yeager-may-be-the-greatest-military-pilot-of-all-time-2016-3


Know the difference between experience and success


Leaders running a desperate hiring process will talk about the required experience of a candidate. The world is full of people with experience. Even the bottom 20% of underperformers have experience. Success, on the other hand, is a clear distinction. A history of success in the exact situation, achieved 3 times or more in a similar environment, is the best indicator of future success. Result patterns in professionals' careers are highly insightful. If the success pattern happened once, be careful to understand the outside factors: macroeconomic trends, overreliance on the past company, team, or senior leader. 

What is the #1 problem with hiring processes? It is interviewing a limited and shallow pool of talent that lacks a proven history of success. If you do not have more than 2 excellent candidates fighting over the position at the end of your hiring process, your process is suspect. Do not settle. Embrace your strengths along with your areas for growth. The solution is simple, fix the problem areas or hire an expert recruiting firm to deliver the high-level talent your company and team deserve. 


The EAA Air Venture in Oshkosh, WI, is the world’s largest air show—a short 4-hour drive from Hudson, WI, and is one of the treasures of summers in Wisconsin. In 2002, my family attended the show. My pattern is to head to the WWII Warbird field first—a grass field lined up with Spitfires, Corsairs, HellCats, and my favorite, P51 Mustangs. At the time, you could walk up to the planes.


From a distance, an 80 yr. old guy climbs into a P51 Mustang and starts taxiing down a runway. Like a kid, I ran after the plane, the family in tow. The sound of the deep-throaty Merlin engines shook the ground. The fighter plane pulls over into the side access next to a podium next to the runway, and the pilot Chuck Yeager climbs out. It was rather surreal, as a mass of 100,000 people were walking by clueless, our family was talking with Chuck one-on-one.


Hire Smarter™ - Tony

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