Awards, certifications, and degrees are, simply, mile-markers on our journey of growth and provide enhanced opportunities to begin relationships.
Society has adopted as truth this funny notion that there are no differences from one person to another.
Then, it diligently goes about labeling each to differentiate the homogeneous mixture.
Recent attendance at a Scaling New Heights conference was a gentle reminder of this Universal Principle: regardless of how alike a group of people may be, the individual differences are worthy of consideration.
In fact, the uniqueness of the individuals is what creates synergy for the group. In other words, the sum of the whole is greater than its parts. Yet, the value of the group is dependent upon the integrity of the individual members.
As attendees of the Conference, we were provided an assortment of materials and a name Badge. Since the Conference was conducted in cooperation with Intuit®, the maker of QuickBooks, one early announcement was the availability of lapel Pins to note our levels of achievement.
Caught up in the pompousness of the moment, I went by the Intuit® booth and claimed my awards. In observing others with the Pins affixed to their Badges, I did the same — for about an hour.
Then, I was struck with the absurdity: we were all the same, as ProAdvisor attendees.
The real distinction was in the passion at the core of who we are, as individuals.
Our value to one another and the Customers we serve is not in the awards, certifications, or degrees accumulated in appendages to our name. Value is the reality of a perception. Reputation is what others think about us. Character is who we really are.
A couple of years ago, my character was tested by a potential new Customer. By being too eager to please, I gave the best of me to the son-in-law, who asked for help. Although purporting to have authority to purchase, son-in-law was subordinate to Father-In-Law.
Once that was understood, I took the game from my office to their place of business. Oh, the fun of beginning again with the one who controlled funding authority. All was going relatively well, until I decided to take a short-cut.
Rather than build Trust and provide the opportunity for Respect to be earned and given, I thought my credentials were pretty dang impressive and decided to share them.
Since we were standing right there next to a computer, what better way to close the deal than to have this potential new Customer see Testimonials from old Clients? As the CFO son-in-law (under my direction) wiggled the mouse and tickled the keyboard to navigate onto a Site of Distinction, CEO Father-In-Law grew increasingly amused.
Thinking that I had thoroughly impressed him, his lesson in humility haunts me to this day, “So, how much did you have to pay those people to say that?”
In defense of my honor, I assured him that those were actual Clients and they paid a Price for Value. My whining didn’t impress Father-In-Law in the least. He was a proud man, who could make his own judgment to my worth. He didn’t need my help.
So close to being a mutually beneficial relationship and I messed it up by wanting to brag.
If only I had remembered:
Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—
a stranger, not your own lips.
The collection of Business Cards accompanying me home from the Conference was the perfect reminder of how hard we work to achieve distinction in the eyes of the governing bodies. Yet, all that really matters in life and business is the effort we make, individually, to serve those in our sphere of influence.
Initials behind our names are, simply, mile-markers on our journey of growth. The danger is in believing they are an announcement of greatness. They are not.
The dictionary definition of Initial: Of, relating to, or occurring at the beginning; first.
That’s all Initials are, the opportunity to begin a relationship with another person.