“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
How can you and I possibly use this leadership quote?
Early on in my career, I had been running a small factory and a new boss took over. We really couldn’t see eye to eye so I ended up leaving. It’s a longer story than that – maybe the subject of another Quote of the Week. I’d been eyeing up the opportunity to go and learn something new anyway. I grabbed a great opportunity to learn to sell windows and doors to consumers in their homes.
Let’s see what we can discover from Einstein’s words, one of the most inspirational leadership quotes of all time.
The Guy Was Good!
I sat in a classroom with about 20 other hopefuls and listened to a first-class salesman give us the tools and techniques to enthuse people so that they put our product up their priority list and bought it over and above the other places I could choose to spend their money. The guy was good! He taught me some great things and they really worked. I learned a huge amount from him and continued to absorb the tools and techniques of the salesman after I left the classroom. I learned some lessons which I have used through the rest of my life.
A lamb to the slaughter?
I practised my new skills by implementing the learning in people’s homes in the evenings and I found that I could sell in many circumstances. One day about a month later, I found myself in a man’s home and he had a clear requirement for some extra windows. I went through the sales process with a huge amount of enthusiasm as I had done many times in the previous month. He really needed the windows and they would solve a big problem for him. He signed and the order was placed. A lamb to the slaughter.
The next morning, he called me and said he was going to have to cancel the order. He was very polite and apologetic about it and the reason he gave struck right to my core. He said “You knew I needed the windows and you also knew that I couldn’t afford it.” He was absolutely right. In my enthusiasm I had ignored the fact that he really didn’t have enough money. It wasn’t even a big sale and I was making really good money at the time anyway on the commission only arrangement which we all had.
This experience brought me up with a jolt. I had never really sat back and thought about how my values matched with making money. How far was I prepared to go? The answer is that I wasn’t prepared to carry on putting myself in that position where I would inevitably sell again to people who couldn’t afford it.
The definitive test is your values
So, I quit. I didn’t have a job to go to, I had a pregnant wife and I’d been earning more money than I could have dreamt of a few weeks before. But I couldn’t allow myself to continue to be put into similar circumstances. And I knew I would sell because I could and I would be caught up in the adrenaline rush which is the successful sale. I’m not perfect and the older I get the more I realise that. I strongly recommend to you that in addition to exploring other famous leadership quotes, you sit down and check that what you do matches with your values. The definitive test is your values. There is no other compass for your life.
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