Streamline - Summer 2015 - (Page 45)
BY MICHAEL JOHNSON
Helpers in Our Path
WHEN I WAS young, I thought when you grew up and reached age 21 or so, your personality "locked in"
and you were who you were for the rest of your life. Man, was that wrong. This is obvious to people my
age, but we are so different at 40 than we were at 21, and even more different at 50 than we were at 40.
One example being - as we say so often the more we age - "If I had only known then what I know now."
Had I known what I know now, how
different my career choices might have
been, and how different my dealings
with other people would have been?
There are so many things we aren't
taught or failed to listen to even if
we were taught. Some studies suggest
that our mid-40s are a time when our
lives are filled with change. I'm one
of those. Mine spilled over and went
I never cared for salesmen in my early
adult years. They were just people who
were trying to get your money, and they
were usually very annoying. Imagine
my surprise when I woke up one morning and found that I was one.
I left my job and career when I was
45. It was a strange time. I decided to
do what I loved with the rest of my days.
I began to write about the people and
horses that helped me in life. In a short
time, I had stacks of books everywhere.
It dawned on me one day that I needed
to sell some of them, 'cause pretty soon
I wouldn't be able to walk around in my
house. How hard could that be? I had
a terminal degree in human relations.
No problem, right? I knew all about
people, right? I remember so clearly
how shocked I was when the "sales
business" taught me I didn't know anything about people at all. Nothing at
all. Then, I got lucky. I started meeting
people ... and they weren't like anyone
I had met before.
Ever notice how when you talk to
some people, they talk about themselves, and continue to do so? Once
they get the conversational ball, they
never bat it back. They keep it. I began
to notice some people didn't do that.
You could ask them something and they
would certainly give you an appropriate
response, but in no time they would bat
the ball back to you, and they continued to talk to you about you! My sales
skills improved overnight. One of many
was Jim Stovall.
Jim has done well in life. He's won
an Emmy, written more than a dozen
books that sell all over the world, and
made a number of movies. (One of my
favorites is The Ultimate Gift.) All that
is remarkable, and you learn how much
so when you discover Jim did all this
after losing his sight. I send him my
column and he sends me his. Here's a
story he shared this week...
He ran on to a study that was conducted in Starbucks. A man sat at a table
with a sign that read, "Free coffee if you
will listen to my story." He sat there for
several hours. Not one person accepted
his offer for free coffee in exchange for
listening to his story.
The next day, he sat at the same table
with a slight adjustment to his sign. This
time, the sign read, "Free coffee if you
will tell me your story." A line formed
almost immediately and grew so long
that the experiment had to be canceled
because of the number of people waiting to tell their story.
How I wish I knew then what I know
now. How I wish I knew then what all
those special people I met told me about
sales, about horses and about life over
the last 20 years. Helpers are placed
in our path on our journey. Jim is one
of many. That column he wrote was
just one instance of the countless times
his wisdom has helped me - and that
story did as well. I hope it helped you,
because nothing helps us more or gains
us more friends than listening.
Anything you want to tell me?
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Summer 2015
From the President: A Disinfection Byproducts Odyssey
From the Executive Director: It’s Over
Importance of Professional Relationships in the Water and Wastewater Industry
Spring Cleaning … All Year Long
Region Meetings: the Next Big Thing
Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses
Virginia Source Water
USDA Rural Development
A Successful Model for Waterworks
Professional Licensing Update: News You Can Use
Tank Team Tackles Water Distribution
VRWA 2015 Conference Highlights
Town of Lovettsville Wins the ‘Great Water Taste Contest’
Throwing My Loop: Helpers in Our Path
VRWA Booster Club
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
Board of Directors
Index to Advertisers/Ad.com
Streamline - Summer 2015