Not many people like to be “sold” something, or enjoy being approached by someone who is always “selling”. We know those folks, who to their credit are fearless in their pursuit, but their boldness almost always comes off as pushy and insincere.
I remember early in my career, I had to make “cold calls”. For those that don’t know, this is a process by which you make numerous phone calls day in and day out to people you don’t know and try to convince them to buy something you’re offering, or to either meet you to discuss the idea further.
This is a grueling way to make a living, in my opinion, but it teaches many valuable lessons. Such as, you learn how to take repeated rejection and keep moving forward. You learn not to take things so personally, and you learn how to deal with cruelty. It’s a tough gig, but the lessons are invaluable.
I quickly realized however, I needed a more fulfilling way to make a living than pitching products. This is in no way a negative for those who do. I just couldn’t do it – and no amount of money satisfied the emptiness I felt in this type of role.
It wasn’t until later in my career that I realized my knowledge could actually help people.
As an example, I had helped an elderly lady professionally in various ways, and we had built a friendly relationship over time. I guess I saw her as a grandmother type figure and she must have seen me as a type of grandson. Nonetheless, I eventually confided in her that I was looking to make a potential career change – and that’s when she literally began to tear up. She said encouragingly that I couldn’t leave her because she had no one else she could trust. This hit me because it was the first time I realized I could actually help people and make a difference in their lives by what I knew.
I chose to remain in my job at the time, but with a new outlook. My goal was to help people solve problems by sharing with them options. This approach not only freed me up from the monotony of my job, but gave me a vision and a purpose in my job.
As a result, I eventually reached a position professionally that allowed me to choose for whom and where I worked rather than having to accept a place just for the money. This was liberating, but also confirming to what Zig Zigler once said: “The best way to get what you want is to help others get what they want“.
Sadly, integrity, character, and sincerity seem to be in short supply these days, but thankfully, when we seek to genuinely help people without any ulterior motive, we end up reaping the good fruits of the good work we sow that far surpass any monetary value.
It’s also in genuinely helping others without any angle, or motive, that allows us to create connection with people. This helps us develop relationships, which opens the door for authenticity, and for the gospel to be clearly seen and shared in our lives.
It reminds me of the apostle Paul in the Bible when we are told he made tents. I wonder what his conversations with customers were like? He was satisfying a need in a genuine and honest way, and who knows how many people he made an authentic impression on through this work.
Then, perhaps some of these same customers would see him sharing the gospel some time later and say, “isn’t that that nice, honest guy who helped us with our tent”? How much more open do you think they would be in hearing his message – verses if he had simply been trying to “sell” as many tents as possible?