Early in my coaching and sales careers, I struggled and struggled mightily, to the point where I thought I just wasn’t cut out for what I was doing. Then someone taught me a valuable and succinct lesson. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me for the last 17 years.
In 1997, frustrated, dejected and at what felt like rock bottom I sought the counsel of my coaching mentor, Randy Mills. I was at my wit’s end. The harder I tried to win games, the less my team won. It was weird. I was literally doing everything I thought humanly possible yet we weren’t winning and my players really weren’t getting any better either.
He changed my perspective and he did it with one word. Instead of focusing on winning games, he challenged me to reframe my perspective to helping. The more I tried to win games, the less we won. Following his advice, in my mind I replaced the word winning with the word helping. It was as if the proverbial light bulb came on.
As the next season rolled around, the more I tried to help my players each reach their potential, the more we won. From that day forward, I never discussed winning with my team. It was the one word I removed from my vocabulary and did my best to remove from theirs.
When I left coaching and went into sales, I really struggled for a while. When I talked to my mentor about how I was having a hard time, he simply reminded me to replace the word selling with helping.
John, you’re not selling advertising, you’re helping people grow their businesses.
It went from something that felt outcome based and sleazy (sales) to something that felt altruistic and comfortable (helping). It also sent my results to a totally new level.
The more I tried to make money, the less I made. The more I tried to help people, the more sales I made. It’s the difference between willfulness and willingness. When you focus on the process of helping others, the outcomes you were previously seeking take care of themselves. In short, do good and good will follow.
As entrepreneurs and leaders we need to focus on process instead of results. Stop focusing on winning (the result) and instead focus on helping (the process). Helping is about who you are becoming. Ultimately, we are not just growing our businesses, we are growing ourselves.
Every time I focused on winning, I lost. Every time I focused on helping, I won. Coincidence? I think not, because when we do good, good will follow.
To this day, any time my mindset gets a little off the tracks or I lose focus, I hear Randy's voice say that one word -- help.
I became a coach to help athletes achieve their potential. I moved into executive coaching to help even more people reach their potential. It's the same reason I write books and articles.
Last Thursday I received an email from a blind man who “reads” my column via Umano, an audio publishing platform. (Unbeknownst to me they’ve been narrating my articles.) He wrote to tell me how much of a difference my articles make to him. Until his email, I just thought Umano was an app for busy commuters to listen to articles on their drive to and from work. That day his email inspired me to sign up and now I will be narrating my own articles on the platform.
Why am I sharing this with you?
1. That one four letter word can change your life too. Focus on helping instead of selling or winning and the sales and wins will take care of themselves.
2. Do good and good will follow. You never know who you might be helping or how.
You have a gift. It’s your voice. It’s more powerful, influential and helpful than you realize. One word can change someone’s life, their career, their marriage, their mindset. Choose your words carefully, they are like fire. They have the ability to heal or to harm.