Inspired by the Olympic games, I wrote a post last year about the Olympians in our midst (read post)—those people who demonstrate excellence by the consistent choices they make; especially when circumstances would make it so much easier to choose otherwise. These are the people that practice gratitude rather than grousing, generosity rather than greed, encouragement rather than indifference. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by many such Olympians.
And yesterday I met with another.
When I learned of his recent job change from a LinkedIn notice, I sent this man I’d met a number of years ago a note of congratulations, with a simple remark: “I didn’t expect that move.” Knowing he had built a very successful client list at a prestigious financial services firm, his switch to a different firm seemed odd to me. What I learned about his decision qualified him as an Olympian in my private Games.
During the course of our conversation I asked how he was able to consistently outsell every other professional in his firm. He replied, “It may sound silly and rather simplistic, but I always asked myself, ‘What’s in the client’s best interest?’”
Now, you and I have heard that before. Ad nausium. There are countless books (even more blog posts) written about it. Had anyone else said it, I would have been appropriately dismissive. But I know from our prior meetings that this is EXACTLY how he behaves. He’s built a loyal base of fans, myself included, because he genuinely cares about what happens to those he meets, whether they are a client or not (I am not).
So when his firm began pressuring him to sell products to his clients to lock them into services they didn’t need, he became increasingly uncomfortable. Conflict was brewing within him. Does he preserve his successes by acquiescing to the pressure, or start over again, reaffirming the principles that got him there? For him, it was a no-brainer. He’d have to start over again.
As we met, though, one thing became readily apparent. He was not starting from scratch. He already had a strong network of eager friends ready to give him a hand. I, for one, enthusiastically applaud his fresh start built on sustained principles.
What shows of excellence have you seen?