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500+ for 50 – day 3: permission granted

Most people spend the better part of their lives seeking to become the image of the person that the world considers “successful”.  Every day in our country we are bombarded with propaganda telling us what beauty is, what happiness looks like, and what type of person we need to become to achieve all of the worldly riches that we desire.  We idolize, we obsess, and we critique ourselves against what the masses have determined to be ideal.  Our society has transformed into a silent pressure cooker.  It’s no wonder that there are more individuals facing anxiety, depression, and other mental health related setbacks than ever.  There is perhaps nothing more draining emotionally and psychologically than living a life that is not our own.

Before I came to know Christ I was living a life that was the image of one which I had perceived would be well regarded by the masses.  I purchased things that I couldn’t necessarily afford and moved quickly to take significant financial risks that would allow me to temporarily advance one aspect of my life or another.  I worried about how I looked to everyone – not just friends, family, and members of the opposite sex, but professional connections as well.  I was very insecure.  On the surface, I may have appeared a confident individual, but that wasn’t really the case at all.  A man who is truly comfortable in his own skin does not seek the approval of anyone other than the Lord Himself.

I had spent all of the early part of my life quietly begging for the support of others.  And it was not until I came to know God that I began to understand how misguided I had been all along.  When I surrendered my life to Christ, waves of clarity and truth began to wash over me.  I quickly realized how wrong I had been in my assumptions about life.  I was finally able to distinguish between God’s vision for my future and the world’s.  And I loved His plan.  It was so liberating.  It was as if I was taking my first breath all over again.  I hadn’t realized how confining and debilitating my life had been.  I became a new man – a free man.  Seeking no approval other than His, I found myself pursuing the talents and gifts that He had provided me, fulfilling a mission that had purpose and heart behind it.  I asked for the permission of no one as I knew I had His blessing, and that was all that mattered to me.

I pursued God’s path for my life for about a year and a half, and then the world dug its claws into me again.  I became distracted by financial considerations and material things, and although I remained a faithful Christian, I began trying to do things on my own and not according to His plan.  And quickly I began reliving the failures of my life prior to my rebirth in Christ.  I stopped putting my full trust in God to lead me and as a result I began living my days filled with internal turmoil and conflict.  There was the person who I wanted to be and then the person that the world was urging me to become.  I didn’t like that person at all, but I felt such an urgency to comply that I began to override my faith on a regular basis.  And those decisions only led me to further despair.

Thankfully, God has had mercy on me, offering me a second chance to right the ship.  And I plan to make the most of it this time around.  Life is a battleground.  You will be pressured until the day that you die to make decisions that may not correspond with who you are as a person in Christ.  There will be society driven perceptions of wealth, beauty, and success infiltrating your well-being from all angles.  You will need to learn to tune out the noise and turn up your faith.  You cannot trust the world.  But you can trust God.

The desire to fit-in can be overwhelming in this life.  The good news is that you have a choice.  Choose not to fit in.  You don’t need anyone’s permission to live your life pursuing the mission that God has designated you.  No one can criticize you for the way that you look, for the car that you drive, or for the home that you live in.  You are the creation of a perfect God – He does not make mistakes.  Your gifts are special.  They might be unique by this world’s standards, but that could be the very reason that you were given them.  You may have something revolutionary to share…so get to it, we need you!  Do things differently. Stand out.  Break the trends.  Be secure in your faith and in yourself.  The world needs to change and it’s not going to send you an invitation to join the action committee.  You need to take the lead…permission has been granted.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 2: sell yourself

I remember attending the first true sales training event of my professional career when I began working for Worldwide Express back in 2006.  I had accepted a position with the Philadelphia Center City office and was required to travel to the corporate headquarters in Dallas, TX for a weeklong introduction to the business and to our company delegated sales process.  There were more than 70 fresh Account Executives in the class, most of whom (like me) were very recent graduates from colleges and universities nationwide.  It was an intimidating experience.  We were led by a very charismatic, energetic VP level executive, and he expected us to perform well.  Excelling in sales training meant following the rules and sticking to the script.  I played along and did just fine, ultimately surviving my initiation.  But I definitely left with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth with regards to corporate sales training.

To grade the value of a salesperson on the execution of his designated script or some other type of prescribed gimmicky process serves to do nothing more than diminish the value of the person altogether.  Any “Joe” off the street can learn a script.  We can teach elementary aged students the 7 Steps of a Sale.  Is that what we believe really makes a salesperson successful?  If so, I should probably find a new career.  Because I honestly feel that I have a whole lot more to offer the marketplace than that which is prescribed by someone else.  And you should too.  After all, that’s why many of us likely got into sales in the first place.  We valued the uncapped potential associated with building our business through the development and promotion of our own talents and work ethic within the framework of a successful organization.  A successful salesperson doesn’t sell a product or a script, he sells himself, and he does it at an exceptional level. 

The value of a salesperson rests in his ability to relate to his clients and build longstanding relationships.  Pretty simple concept, right?  Great relationships lead to countless business related opportunities. Effective management of the opportunities given leads to future work related commitments.  And future commitments lead to the growth of client relationships and ultimately to the overall success of the salesperson.  Those are undeniable facts that we can all agree upon.  It’s the described path that we must take to establish those relationships that’s truly up for debate…

My position is this…there is no better you than you.  God created each and every one of us with a unique purpose in mind.  We are not robots.  We are meant to learn from others and incorporate some of those lessons into our own personal growth, but more importantly, we are meant excel at being the very likeness of whom God has challenged us to be.  And we will never find the best of who we are within a script written by someone else.  Each of us has the power to write our own story, our own script.  And we all have certain strengths and abilities that are unique to the people that we have become.  Those are the things that we should be selling.  Our individual talents and skills are the gifts that we have to offer those around us, and they will serve as the cornerstone of all of our most successful relationships, not only in business, but in life in general.

Every salesperson will face competition within their industry.  None of us will ever likely be in a position to sell a product or capability that has not been matched by a competitor.  There are lots of sales books out there touting what it takes to “close more deals” and “have this year be your biggest year ever”.  But the fact of the matter is that those books are someone else’s success story, not yours.  I challenge you to write your own plan for success.  Ditch the script and start selling yourself.  Embrace the qualities that make you unique, and hook up with people who will appreciate what YOU bring to the table.  Your success will never be defined by anyone but you.  So excel at being your best, and the relationships, the sales, and the prosperity will follow.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 1: tuition paid

The other day I heard a great metaphor from a motivational speaker that I admire quite a bit. He related the adversities that one encounters on the road to success as a “tuition” being paid. That’s a pretty enlightening thought. Far too often we interpret the trials and tribulations that test our will and redirect us back to comfort as dream killers. We fail to see the bigger picture. Our dreams are not dead. The goal is not out of reach simply because we hit a wall. Every time that we encounter pain and are faced with setbacks we are receiving an education in life, in perseverance, and in the commitment necessary to achieve true success.

I’m thankful for my education. I was raised by family who had the means necessary to afford me every opportunity to advance my knowledge and skills. I consider that a true blessing. I learned a lot during the four years that I spent earning my degree. But it wasn’t the details of the subject matter that were most critical to my success in college. It was the work ethic, the commitment to excellence, and the time management skills that I learned that were most important. And to this very day, they are the strongest attributes that I carry with me as a professional.

I was an American History major in college. Today, I work in sales. Does that make my degree meaningless? Not at all. Because I could have never had a successful career in sales without the lessons that I learned and life experience that I gained while pursuing my education. Is it necessary for everyone to earn their degree to attain the type of exposure necessary for success? Perhaps not. But for me, it was crucial.

My point here is that it’s not the details that are important, it’s the journey and the lessons learned along the way. Some might think that it’s crazy for a family to extend a bundle of financial resources towards an education that doesn’t translate into a specific career opportunity. I would argue strongly against that. For me, college was the first place where I was first truly held accountable as a young adult. I was forced to grow up and learn exactly what type of commitment it would take for me to be successful. I pulled all-nighters, got up for a bunch of early classes and tirelessly took notes during every lecture when I could have very easily stayed in bed. I learned to read and write effectively, to manage stress, and to expand my horizons and educate myself on subjects outside of my comfort zone. You cannot put a price on that type of experience. It’s invaluable.

So why as an adult is it so very hard for us to keep in perspective the meaning of the journey to success? Maybe it’s the demands on our time, the work stressors and financial burdens that leave us vulnerable to those walls that encourage surrender and retreat. We need to keep in mind that the pathway to excellence remains the same as it was when we were first exposed to independent life. And that if we stay the course and put in the work, battling through late nights and early mornings preparing and striving for success, that we are going to ace life’s final exams. We are paying life’s tuition. Setbacks are not meant to deter our progress, they are meant to encourage us to grow stronger. You better believe that there will always be more adversity waiting beyond each advance made towards your goals. Embrace it; you’re getting an education that’s everlasting – PAID IN FULL by your commitment to being the best “you” that you can be.

May God Bless!