Parking Spot Swap
Brad has just been appointed the new CEO of a department store chain. Because he is a staunch believer in “servant leadership,” his first order of business is to reverse the hierarchy of spots in the parking lot.
Managers who are used to having reserved spots close to the building will now park in the spots furthest away, leaving the close spots for customers and lower level employees.
On the day Brad is scheduled to visit a certain store location there is a torrential downpour. As the rain comes down in sheets, the chatter starts up.
Will he park in one of the spots furthest away? Will he snag a spot close to the building to avoid getting soaked? Or will he even show up at all?
When Brad does show up, he parks in the furthest spot from the building. Despite his umbrella and overcoat he walks into the building drenched to the bone. His expensive suit is ruined.
After he enthusiastically meets about a dozen employees he makes his way to the men’s department where he picks out the least expensive suit on the rack.
When he comes out of the dressing room 10 minutes later he doesn’t look nearly as impressive, but his character certainly does.
Lead With A Story
Last week I had the great pleasure of interviewing storytelling expert, Paul Smith, on our 72SOLD national training call. The story above was from one of Paul’s books, Lead With A Story, and I believe it’s one of his best.
Paul has been named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers, has written two #1 bestselling books (Lead with a Story and Sell with a Story), and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Forbes, Fast Company, and Success Magazine, among others.
While Paul’s expertise is in “organizational storytelling” for sales people and business leaders, the concepts he discussed with me last week are applicable to a wide range of situations (Paul wrote a book entitled Parenting With A Story).
My interview with Paul was so enlightening that I decided to share some of his best takeaways…
Two Words For Welding
Do you want to “weld” your connections with people so that they are stronger than steel?
Paul said there are two words you must constantly focus on to accomplish this:
As Chinese philosopher, Confucius, once said, “Humility is the foundation of all virtues.”
American poet, Thomas Merton, agreed, saying, “Pride makes us artificial. Humility makes us real.”
Everyone suffers hardships in life. When you exhibit humility it helps people identify with you because you’ve struggled too, and you’re willing to admit it.
What’s harder than humility?… Vulnerability.
For many this can be terrifying because being vulnerable goes against our natural instinct. To be vulnerable is to be “hurtable,” and people will go to great lengths to avoid being hurt physically and emotionally.
But being vulnerable is also a crucial element in forming deep connections with others because when you open up, it causes others to open up to you.
Author Madeleine L’Engle penned the line…
“To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
Author Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to worthiness.”
A Tale of Two Stories
On the training call Paul shared that there are two types of stories that demonstrate our honesty…
The “I’ll tell you when I can’t help you” story:
Some people want to be everything to everyone. They want to have the “fix” for every problem. But while helping others is wonderfully human, it can also be a double edged sword.
In business, Paul says, “When you tell me you aren’t the best person to provide the solution I need, your selflessness makes me trust you more when you say you are the right person for another job now or in the future.”
If you take it one step further by recommending and connecting your friend/client to someone else who can provide the solution, it’s an even better “trust booster.”
The “I’ll tell you when I make a mistake” story:
As human beings we inherently try to avoid admitting that we made a mistake. There is pride in being right, and typically punishment for being wrong, so it’s natural that we always want to be right and never wrong.
In our discussion, Paul said, “When you tell someone you made a mistake before they find out from someone else, that conveys honesty and builds trust.”
Paul also commented, “Everyone wants to work for a leader who shares the mistakes they have made so other people in the company don’t make the same ones.”
It’s hard to admit mistakes but that’s one reason why it ingratiates us so well with others.
Want to make your storytelling more genuine?
Be humble. Be vulnerable. Be selfless. Reveal your mistakes.