As alluded to in a previous post, when launching a new endeavor there never seems to be a lack of examples to point to that show how much you need to improve your game. Example A: a gentleman calls to inquire about whether my company has any steam cleaners for rent. At the time, we did not. It had been on my wish list, but I hadn't finished researching which particular model would be the best fit for this business. I apologized for not being able to meet his needs, and let him carry on with his day.
What a stupid response. Here's why that's a lost opportunity..........what would it have hurt to ask him when he needed it? I was so motivated to finish my product research after that call that I actually had our current stud of a steam cleaner in stock within two weeks. Would he have waited two weeks? Who knows. But the fact that he might have means I let an opportunity to build a relationship slip by without even trying. It boils down to a subtle shift in mindset: disappointment versus curiosity. Instead of being disappointed in not being able to immediately fulfill someone's needs, you've gotta get curious about how you actually could. Now instead of me letting him down, the ball is back in his court. That's being in the game instead of a spectator.
It reminds me of a story told to me by a Lieutenant Colonel that I served under in my last tour of duty in the Marine Corps. It served as his motto for life in general, and it drives me nuts when I fail to live up to it myself. He was a linebacker for his high school football team. An extremely confident one. You could say he was the star of the team, at least on the defensive side of the ball. The first game of the season finished up. His team got the win; he made some pretty awesome plays; let the praise and adulation spill forth. Or so it was in his mind. He shows up to practice the next day expecting high fives and a red carpet roll-out and instead he gets summoned to the coaches office. The coaches have spliced up video from the game to show every play in which he was on the field. They show all of the plays in which the ball came to his side of the field. He was like a shark with a whiff of blood. He crushed players, knocked passes down, forced fumbles. He was a one-man wrecking crew. As he watched himself, he smirked and bobbed his head to confirm to the coaches that he knew how awesome he was. And then the coaches played video of every play in which the ball went to the opposite side of the field. He just stood there on the field. Barely moved a muscle. The coaches tore into him and threatened to bench him the rest of the season, regardless of his talent, unless he learned this one lesson. Whether the ball comes your way or not, do something! In his case, just find a guy on the other team and blow him up. There were plenty of spots on the bench to watch the game from, they reminded him, if that's what he wanted to do. But if he is going to be on the field, he needs to play the game whether the ball comes his way or not. You just never know what might happen.
That's a mindset that goes a long way in every aspect of life.
To always being curious!
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