Being in sales has given me a fair share of what it feels like to be rejected. Even this past week, I had two incredibly funny and awkward occurrences, and honestly, if I'm doing my job right, that should be the norm. As I was driving away from one of these episodes with my friend and co-worker, Cody, I felt a sense of gratitude because in a matter of thirty seconds I gained clarity as to what I never want to be and was reminded of a concept I read about recently called Return on Relationships (ROR).
To put my story shortly, I recently approached a guy who was wearing an awesome, obviously tailored sport coat, to pay him a compliment and grab his business card, seeing as how I'm now in the custom clothing business. We call it "floating." It is a great way to set appointments with qualified guys and normally lasts no more than thirty seconds.
Well, this dapper young lad was an expert in the art of evasion. He would not slow down, look my way, and sternly repeated the phrase, "I said I have a meeting to go to," before I ducked back to the car. I've learned to have pretty thick skin, and this didn't actually bother me much, but Cody and I started talking about the ROR concept and how it applies here as we drove to our next appointment.
Part of the ROR idea is that seemingly insignificant encounters and how we treat people can have a massive impact on how our lives unfold. Tommy Spaulding, who coined the term, tells a great story in his book "It's Not Just Who You Know" about how his interest in a bartender and his family's history was the deciding factor for him receiving a scholarship that allowed him to pursue his MBA. When the panel of interviewers couldn't decide which candidate to choose, they sought out the bartender who had spent the whole day with all ten applicants, while they waited in the restaurant to be interviewed. The only person who made any point to talk to the bartender was Tommy. When the interviewers couldn't make up their mind, the bartender cast the tie-breaking vote. I'm sure you can guess who he suggested...
I never want to be the person who ignores someone who is apparently trying to talk to me, like Mr. Sport-Coat last week. I never want to be the person who talks down to someone because of my supposed belief about their worth or the value they can add to my life. I want to make time for people, seek out the ones who are less obvious, with no agenda or selfish motives.
One of my favorite passages in all of scripture comes from Philippians 2, talking about Christ's humility. Simply put, the God of the universe humbled himself and became a man to die for an undeserving people, so that we might have life. I want that new life to look like the example I see in Jesus, the one who deserved all the glory, yet washed his disciples' feet, dined with sinners, had conversations with the culturally unacceptable, forgave the guilty and sent the stone-bearing condemners away...
Given, there will probably be a day when I have a limited amount of time or be in route to something important, like Mr. Sport-Coat's meeting, but I want to handle it with dignity and grace.
You never know when the person you're brushing to the side or not paying attention to actually holds the key to something incredible in your life. Like I mentioned in a previous post, the least might be the most in disguise.