It doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that.
Do you remember the movie?
It starred Michael York as a cop of the future, named Logan 5. People were categorized by age and when you hit 30 (yikes!) your light came on and you were supposed to go to Carousel where you were eliminated. Killed.
This was to keep the world from being over populated and preserve precious resources.
When his light turned red, Logan began to run. In fact, they called those that bucked the system ”runners”. His instinct for survival trumped all the training and instruction the civilization had tried to instill. The movie was about categorization and the consequences of being in that category.
Sales is like that. If I could wax more philosophical…life is like that.
Think back to elementary school and picking sides for relay races. The captains would stand out front and begin to pick their teams. You had to pick boy/girl to create some parity, but after that it was survival of the fittest.
Day after day, the kids that were slower were left standing, awkwardly, hoping they wouldn’t be last. The captains made comments about not wanting the last few options that were available like some high-stakes NFL draft. There were really cruel statements sometimes – where were the teachers?
I got a chance to be captain and picked in reverse of the expected order. I picked the kids who were not always fast or coordinated but you could see them giving it their all – every time. Sure, I also picked Walter as he and I were the fastest kids in school.
Strategically, I had Walter run the first leg and I ran the last one. As planned,it gave us a great lead to start and fighting chance at the end. I won’t hold you in suspense…
Hey, this is real life, not Hollywood. What I will tell you, is that it was a lot more respectable than anyone would have wagered!
The real change was in the kids on my team. Picking them first did something to them. It gave them hope that categorization wouldn’t inform their entire elementary school opportunities. Yes, a big revelation for an 8 year old.
Ok, I know some would say I only tried to let two 20% runners “carry” the 80%-ers – hey we were a relay “team”… You don’t stop the 20% from being fast, you only allow the willing and able 80%, a dignified chance to run!
In sales, we classify people (usually there is a spreadsheet involved): Top Gun, Top 10%, Winners, Steady Majority, Wounded Warriors, PITA’s, Deadbeats, Losers..the list could go on.
Don’t mistake me for a Pollyanna (though I would rather see the positives!). I know categorization is real, and necessary. It is the consequences of those categories that I think deserves individualistic review and not generalizations.
“Broad brush strokes don’t paint masterpieces.” Brandon Clay
When I enter into a sales environment, my only goal is to give those who are willing to run a real chance to run! I tell organizations I work with, “You picked, hired and recruited these people – you owe them that much.
Where do you find yourself today? What category might you fall into? Where do you fall on the company’s spreadsheets?
Matters not if you are at the top, the bottom, or somewhere in-between. Like Logan, when your light turns on…
You Better Run!