Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What's In It For Me?

     I spent some time today making a number of phone calls to people I know from my former industry, trying to connect a family friend in need of a referral with one or more vendors who I trust could handle his situation effectively.  It will take some more legwork and some back and forth dialogue to make this happen in a way that I'm comfortable; but it's important that I find the right person  to help our friend and his company.  As I was working on this, it occurred to me that one of the worst questions asked in many situations is "What's in it for me?"
     There's a principle I learned years ago in sales that applies more broadly to our lives in general:  the more you help other people get what they want, the more success you'll have yourself.  I've always found that if my primary focus is on helping other people - whether in business or in my personal life, good things tend to happen.  It's a pretty simple approach, but it's amazing how well it works.
     I'm not suggesting, by the way, that personal interest should be ignored or that it's irrelevant - just that it shouldn't be our primary driver.  I know that I get pretty turned off by people whose first thought is always about what's in it for them.  I'm not expecting (nor would I accept) anything in return for helping make the connections I mentioned above.  If it's good for both my friend and the vendor, then I will have succeeded.  
     Kindness, of course, follows a similar path.  We help others simply because it's good to be kind.  While there may be personal rewards - satisfaction, happiness, good feelings - these are byproducts of our actions, not the reason for the actions.  

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