Manny and I had not talked for years.
He was my sales manager over thirty years ago when I was still a pretty green rookie in Dallas repping for an accounting company. We had just taken a Facebook chat offline and were sharing memories of old friends and colleagues, living and dead, and telling the stories of our lives.
Then he said something that I thought was absolutely wonderful.
“Mike, you were one of the biggest mistakes I ever made!”
I lit up. I had to hear the rest of this.
Here’s what Manny thought of me all those years ago:
This guy has no energy, no enthusiasm. I can’t imagine how anybody would want to buy from him. Maybe he can make it selling accounting because people probably don’t expect much more. But, geesh, how will he ever connect with a large number of different types of people?
What he was telling me was that he totally missed something in me, and it was one of his biggest misses ever. Why? Because about a year after we first met I became the top salesman in the company, nationwide. I was probably as surprised as he was. Based on who I was at the time we met, salesman of the year was highly unlikely.
When Manny told me I was his biggest mistake, I practically roared with laughter.
Manny kept repeating, “I hope I’m not saying this wrong.” He was genuinely concerned that I might be upset.
The reason I was laughing so hard is that I made the exact same “biggest mistake of my life” about a year after he made his. When Manny left, I took over his job as manager. A sales position opened in one of our offices, and the only candidate available to fill it was a guy who seemed to be one of the most unlikely sales people I ever had met.
His name was Billy. He looked wrong. He talked wrong. He dressed wrong. He was just wrong for the job.
How he got hired is another story, but I did hire Billy in February. By December, he was the number two salesman in the company just behind number one – me. The next year I ate his dust.
Billy, who has since passed, was one of my biggest mistakes, and boy did I learn from it.
I assured Manny that I was not upset in the least. I was in fact delighted.
All those years ago, Manny could only see a guy who did not know how to be the person he could be, and needed to be, in order to succeed in the job. What he could not see was my steel determination to figure out how to change and to win no matter what. [I wrote a post about that here.]
What I could not see in Billy was bulldog determination that simply would not quit – ever.
Are you willing to be someone’s biggest mistake?
Prove someone wrong. Dig deep and do something amazing, so amazing that even you have say, “Holy shit, I did what???”
And if you want some help with that, then schedule a call with me – I’ve been there and can help you through it.
Michael Stammer is a Sales | Life | Performance coach available for individual and group coaching and speaking to organizations. For more visit www.coachmichael.com
Header photo by L.Alex Proimos used under Creative Commons License.