Round 2: Empathy. Give to get; but don’t worry about getting anything.
So after the whirlwind of Round 1 you should be up to speed on my “yeah take over the world with determination, savvy, and grit” attitude.
Here’s how that’s great, yet flawed, and how Thought Yoda #2- Simon Sinek convinced me I’m still wrong.
You could almost say Mr. Sinek is Thought Yoda #1a as I discovered him about the same week I stumbled up Mr. Vaynerchuk. I downgraded *cringe* to the second slot only because the go-out-and-force-it-to-happen anger angle pulled me out of deep, dark hole I was in. I wouldn’t have been able to discover that I have an empathetic spirit if I first didn’t confront that rage monster on the inside that wanted to break free.
As the esteemed songwriter Hozier puts it “Don’t you ever tame your demons. Always keep them on a leash.”. Once I figured how to direct that anger in a productive way, I could begin to refine how I wanted to be viewed by the world. Crazy hard work and sales dynamo is a great. I want to be more. I want to positively affect change in the people who interact with me for the better. Whether it be by learning from my experiences, or by opening a new lines of thinking they’ve previously never discovered. Yet I can’t do any of that unless people truly see me as a force of positive influence, despite my personal flaws I (and others) are aware of. Here’s that story:
So in that 18–24 black hole of work in the service industry in one of the more trafficked markets in the country, at one of the busiest beach clubs in said market; I somehow ended up leading a team of 6 grown men who were all a minimum of 10 years older than me. How? I was more focused on providing exemplary customer service as a security team, rather than being a reactionary force of measured violence that shut down bad situations. Head them off at the pass kind of thinking, ya dig? How did I get these people to follow my lead? By giving them what they wanted. I was understanding of the fact I was a child managing adults, but it was the situation we were stuck in. So rather than lord over my position, I sought to learn how they would like to see things; then provided gentle nudges in the right direction that was what my model of security was being developed into.
1/2 of these guys were military or retired military, so they desired a set structure for them to freely work in. So I wrote set schedules, with set postings for them to remain at while there, with set rotations and breaks. I felt what they wanted; and found a way to give it to them, even if it was more work for me. The other half were folks who were used to fighting in bars as they were more of the Roadhouse-types. That type was unwelcome on my team (I went through that phase in about 6 months and found escalating situations to be pointlessly violent and dangerous) and so I had to identify WHY they wanted that and HOW I could effectively utilize it. For the most part, I couldn’t, and some of those fellows were asked to move on to greener (more bloody) pastures. The few who were willing, when told what the options were, to learn and try to develop a new skillset I posted with me. We were the front lines and first impressions at the front door. Polite humility, even if feigned, is hard to do correctly. How do you teach someone to care? You don’t. You give them an opportunity to self teach and develop themselves; a motivating thing when self generated.
Now back to Simon Sinek. In retrospect I still pushed these guys a little hard and each year, without fail, we’d see 2–3 drop off. Where did I fail? I learned about the person’s motivation for the JOB, not simply the motivation of the person. Some had crappy relationships, other had friend who died, a few were just generally grouchy people. Because I was so focused on LEADING this team, I missed the opportunity to engage with the individuals. I was, in effect, the cold, calculating corporation that gives an opportunity only. No room for self development unless you showed that initiative to me. Here’s the thing.
Leaders Eat Last. I put myself first then, even if I tricked myself into thinking otherwise. Because I WAS the leader, I didn’t need to learn about leading. I was 22. I didn’t know a thing and didn’t have the emotional maturity at the time to grasp what true leadership is. To me true leadership was my boss saying I was in charge. Now I know that by being in charge you work for the people below you; and it’s your job to do everything you can to put them into the right avenue to succeed.
Now when sitting with clients, potential business partners, and the myriad of small interactions daily that make human beings an interesting subject I seek to understand THEM. My involvement is unnecessary at best, interfering and bothersome at worst. So how do you translate an authentic desire to help away from a sale, and into a relationship? You listen. You absorb. You find what motivates these individuals and give them every tool you have to give to help them succeed in achieving that goal or accomplishing that inner desire.
By bringing up those around you, and making them feel (truly) that they’re in a safe space with you; you can open up these relationships to the infinite potential that they have. You must be authentic with this desire to help. The best intentions can be flawed, but if you allow people to express themselves and you actually listen and learn FROM THEM; you will be able to translate those inner wants into inner motivations. People work best when they trust those above them. Leadership through fear is a failure if leadership.
This is a 27 year old pushing these thoughts out, so maybe I am unrefined. However, I’ve seen the largest steps taken when those who take them feel cared for. Trust is needed. Empathy is needed. There isn’t enough of it in the world today. Be a catalyst for positive change. Affect others by allowing them to have an effect on you.
Give a shit. We’re in this together.