A long time ago, in a high school far, far away, my best friend and I were bewildered on an ongoing basis by a dynamic we repeatedly observed.
When you weren’t in a relationship, it was extremely challenging to get any girl to pay attention to you. However, when you were in a serious relationship, suddenly, multiple girls admitted they had a crush on you.
I’ve seen a parallel dynamic play out in sales and marketing too. When you need to make a sale, it’s an illusive thing. But when demand is hot, it’s difficult to keep up with the inquiry volume — and maintain quality.
Why is this?
In this post, I introduced what I believe is a big idea in business: that deep care is the energy source that powers creativity, innovation, growth, risk, faith, culture, brand and a bunch of other great things.
Deep care is externally-oriented. It flows outward and seeks connections.
When you feel safe and free, you tend to focus on ideas, things and people outside yourself. But once fear sets in, that care is cut off. And your orientation shifts from shared care to self care. Like a soldier in a trench, you hunker down to protect yourself.
That’s what happens in organizations too.
The threat of competition, both inside and outside your company or team, breeds disconnect from the kind of externally-oriented care that fuels connective storytelling and shared purpose — the very thing that distinguishes you in your market.
You will never eliminate threats. They’re a part of life. So it seems the optimal choice is to embrace these threats and act on a faith that comes from deep care.
Faith is a courageous act of deep care over time. It means putting yourself “out there” even though you’ll sometimes get hurt and humiliated.
You can learn a lot about an organization or person through the stories they tell.
Do they talk a lot about themselves? Or do they talk with and about the people they serve?
Are they looking for ways customers can help them out? Or are they looking for ways to help customers?
Listen to the stories you tell. They are windows to your deepest care.
Is it all about you? Or all about a purpose you share with those you serve?
I tell my kids that the more they see or hear an ad, the more desperate the company probably is. Because if they were swimming in sales and cash, they wouldn’t be blowing it by interrupting strangers. I believe the more an organization needs something — cash, customers, accolades, etc. — the more self-serving it becomes.
Over time, my best friend and I came to believe that when you were in a serious relationship, you were relaxed and outwardly caring — and that’s exactly what attracted others. When you were single and looking, you were guarded and self conscious.
That’s what happens with companies too. Those seasons when a company should be most caring (and giving) — when business is slow — they let fear disconnect them from the very people looking for a company that cares.
Don’t let that be you. Listen with care to the stories you share.
(“Somebody Cares” by Gerry Dincher on Flickr)