A good friend, someone I admire greatly
and who also happens to be a priest, recently told me, “no amount of money or
possessions will ever replace humility”. He said this in response to me sharing
how I’ve been frustrated by the selfishness of some people around me in business
over the past year or so. I was venting a bit when he reminded me that I should
not change who I am rather stay the course. Continue to be humble, praise
others for their hard work and efforts, and try not to allow frustration and
jealousy to set in. I’ve been dwelling on his words, the words that have kept
me awake for several nights over the past few weeks, and in context have come
to realize that those I truly admire, in addition to this specific friend, are
successful professionals who are educated, family-oriented, well liked, and
above all humble.
Pondering his words brought to mind two
real examples of people I know that are successful in their sales careers and
yet worlds apart as human beings. The following are the profiles of these two
individuals for you to ponder. Names changed to protect the guilty.
Susan is a 45 year old mother of two.
She has been in sales for nearly 20 years. She has a bachelor’s degree and always
attends continuing education programs when available. In her career she has
always put her client’s need before her own, even if that meant passing on a
deal here and there. She has had the opportunity to hire and mentor many
younger sales people and is always quick with compliments. Her philosophy is to
build up those around her, making the team stronger, instead of just herself or
one other person. Susan not only gives of her time with her team members, peer
mentoring so-to-speak, but never shy’s away from a volunteer opportunity at her
children’s school. And, somehow, she also volunteers with several charities.
Her husband, much like her, is full of compliments. He seems to always be
amazed at her accomplishments with the ability to keep going.
Mary is also a 45 year old mother of
two. Mary is divorced, but has shared parenting with her now ex-husband, so she
can spend time working on her career. Mary has a MBA in addition to her
bachelor’s degree. Her sales career, statistically, is overwhelmingly
impressive. She far exceeds quota within her company and has been the top sales
person the past four years in a row. Mary is a bit of a lone ranger when it
comes to the sales team. She has always been very focused on the win. Closing a
deal takes priority over everything else around her. Clearly this approach has
worked given her stats. While Mary has been successful in closing deals, making
presidents club year over year, she does not like to nor want to mentor her
younger team members. In fact, internally within her own organization, she
comes across cold and unapproachable. Success, being Mary’s priority, does not
afford her much time to spend at the kids school or watching them in sports.
Her mantra is: focus on the deal, always on the deal, it will lead to success
and then I can afford to do anything else outside of work that I want.
Susan and Mary work for the same
company, and in fact, for the same EVP of Sales. Two months ago the EVP of
Sales was promoted to president of the company and it was time to name his
successor. Mary, as confident as always in her career believe she was a sure
thing, and had no problems sharing her confidence with others. Susan even
believed Mary would be selected based on her performance and drive.
Susan is now the EVP of Sales. You see
when it came right down to it, the executive team felt Susan had one major characteristic
that Mary did not. Susan is humble. Her success shines, it always has, through
those around her. She is a team player. She wants her team to be successful.
She works to teach younger team members humility. She leads by example. And
Mary? Well, she is selfish. She has always been selfish. Money, success and
power can come and go. Being yourself, being who you are meant to be, and being
humble, will carry you through the best of times and the worst of times. Oh
yeah…and Mary quit…walked out…and still hasn’t found a new position.