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.