Last week, I read Kimberley Darling's article on the Hubspot blog. For some reason, as I read the opening paragraphs, I was reminded of a lesson from my mentor 35-ish years ago. Here's the story.
I was a field sales manager. My manager and mentor was Bob Jiguere. We were talking about another field sales manager named Peter. Bob was telling me something about Peter and I replied that I thought Peter was a waste of flesh. He was arrogant, self absorbed, condescending and I hated being around him. Hated! Bob told me that my hatred was bad for me and I should stop it. I replied that it couldn't happen. He said, "Rick, if you look hard enough at anybody, you can find something that you don't like about them. Even me! I'm not perfect." (Remember, he was my mentor.) He continued, "If you notice something that you don't like and you begin to focus on it, it will eventually obscure all the good that you used to see and you will hate me." I could never hate him. Then he said, "If you focus on what's good in a person, and focus hard, eventually you will no longer see what you don't like and you will like and appreciate the person." Then he asked me what I thought Peter was good at. At first, I said nothing, He's a waste, but after some prodding, Bob got me to admit that Peter was a sharp dressser. Then he suggested that whenever I think about Peter, I focus on his attire and it would open the door to a better relationship.
That's the lesson. Focus on what will make the relationship stronger.
Two more recent examples...
When Bill Clinton was in the midst of his Monica Lewinsky publicity, I really had a problem with his "definition of the word is" explanation, wagging his finger at the American public, and deny, deny, deny, lie, lie, lie, aopolgize strategy. As a person, I don't know. As a president, I don't know. As a salesman that can bond and sell himself to anyone, you have to admire him and if you focus on that and only that, it can get to be all that you see.
Last fall I did a special coaching program that was promoted by my evangelists. Two salespeople that found out about it were bloggers that had written articles that drew comments from me that were less than flattering. When they found out about the special program, they told the evangelists that, based on my blog comments, they really didn't like my style and doubted that they could learn from me. My evangelist suggested that maybe they should focus on the possibility that I could help rather than the negative that they felt because I disagreed with them on their blog. Since then, they've both shared successes that they had.
Who are you thinking about right now?