As a young sales person and manager I was taught to eat, sleep and breathe sales. Nothing was more important than setting your goals and targets and achieving them. Nothing was was more important than being the best, top dog, number one!
After living that younger life and succeeding with those goals, I was fortunate to have enough grey matter to eventually see the folly in permanently pursuing that strategy. You see, the problem with always striving to be the best, to be number one, is you become fixated on yourself and your own journey and fail to see the journeys of those around you; lives which ought to be important to you, too.
It’s an interesting fact that in National Chemical Company, a mid-size international crew sales organisation based out of the US, for which I worked for several years in the 90s in the Scandinavian division, four guys (myself included) in their early 20s began their sales careers at virtually the same time. All four of us went on to work in the company for in excess of 6 years whilst the average business lifespan of a crew salesperson was 2-3 weeks; all four of us became senior managers under the leadership and direction of the same director. We eventually realised that we also all came from broken homes, none of us had families to go back to and none of us had seen a decent example of a father. As a result our perspective and viewpoint on life was not the best and we were easily indoctrinated with the theology of selfishness and the single-minded pursuit of wealth.
After 20 years of great sales results and nearly as many failed relationships I one day sat down and assessed my life and my overall happiness. The overview wasn’t great. The goals I’d always set for myself were nearly exclusively financial and experience ones. My bucket list was complete years before and it was then that I realised my bucket list had not been a very wise one.
In my 40s the penny finally dropped. Success in life didn’t have anywhere near as much to do with money as it did relationships. I needed to quit thinking solely about myself and begin to spend more time thinking about my family, my friends and those around me in the community who could maybe use my help. My son’s early years certainly helped to change my attitude and to a great extent was the catalytic kick up the backside that spiritually backwards souls like myself require.
I attract a crowd, not because I’m an extrovert or I’m over the top or I’m oozing with charisma. But because I care. Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of The Thank You Economy
Life improved dramatically and incrementally from that point forward. I was no less driven but my goals had matured and so had I. Others became more important than I and their goals became my goals.. and as they did an interesting side effect showed it’s face. My sales pitch and my results had always been good; they now became better. Each sales process that I went through somehow became easier, more enjoyable and more rewarding and my already high closing and retention rate improved further.
So how did my pitch and results improve by my seemingly more scattered focus? Well, I now sincerely cared about my clients and their well-being. I sincerely cared about what I delivered to them and how I delivered it. “Fake it ’til you make it” with regard to working with clients became a thing of the past and ultimately that shone through. Nowadays I can produce the results I used to in less time, with less required energy and actually enjoy the hours spent doing so. I also have a joyous, well balanced, much loved 10 year old son and a happy marriage of 13 years.
Financial success is important but ticking that box will not tick the “happiness box” by itself and it’s sole pursuit will mean you’re only putting petrol in an engine that also requires oil, water and regular maintenance. So take care when reading those motivational books, flicking through the business cliches and sales quotes on Facebook and Twitter. Use them and learn from them but remember that life is much more than business results and when we come towards the end of it, no matter how much wealth we’ve accumulated, we will not be able to buy back a single year we wasted.
Your most precious, valued possessions and your greatest powers are invisible and intangible. No one can take them. You, and you alone, can give them. You will receive abundance for your giving. W. Clement Stone