In November, 1993, I had just failed as a life insurance agent and was grasping at the straws of my future life. Twenty years later, I’m a retired teacher. Last week, I came across some letters I’d written to employers at the time, seeking that elusive foot in the door. Here are excerpts from three of those letters, plus one I wrote to an author of a book on selling skills. The results that came back to me from these efforts was zero. No one replied. I don’t want to analyze the paragraphs for what went wrong. I’m more interested in seeing if the person I am today was peeking out from letters back then that were meant to get me hired.
In the employment positions I have had, I’ve always wanted the person I was meeting
with, whether it was a client, a volunteer, a patient, a student or a fellow staff member, to leave the interaction feeling better, rather than worse. I’m convinced that the road to company success starts and ends with seeing the other person as a human being, listening to their needs, and finding solutions for them, all within the context of both caring and assertiveness.
Did the employer care if the customer felt better after talking to me? I don’t know. I sure did. As a 45-year-old, that was already important to me. Also, what are the other person’s needs, and how can I contribute to their life? Guess I threw in “assertiveness” to make myself more marketable but actually it wasn’t important to me.
I know that I have the ability to inspire the people around me – in this case the employees I supervise. People working with the public must have energy and must like other human beings. I certainly see myself as having these attributes. I can select quality employees in the first place, and help them keep in touch with the “people values” that are essential for any successful retail operation.
Today I’ve come to realize that I’ve inspired some of the people in my life. Looks like I had an inkling of that many years ago. Then and now, I did and do like other humans – in fact I love them for doing their best in this life of joys and woes.
The number one thing I offer is my ability to build trusting relationships with teens. I do this through being a good listener, giving the kids positive feedback whenever it’s earned, and implementing a “keep your word” classroom management program, delivering effective consequences within a context of caring.
This letter was from 1997 as I tried to get myself back into the classroom. Then and now, I trust people. I’ve been ripped off a few times as a result of being naive, but actually I really like the word. I also enjoy “innocent” and “silly”. And I do keep my word to people, sometimes with a little delay, but I get the job done.
I’ve been an agent for 21 months and am struggling to make enough sales to stay in the career. I don’t have much money to spend right now on training programs, but I want to get coaching on how to apply your ideas to the life insurance industry.
I see myself as coachable, open to learning from the life experiences, thoughts and behaviour of others. In some sense, those folks aren’t on the outside, looking in at me. They’re already inside. I’m also willing to admit what’s true in my life. Many a time I do struggle, and not just financially. Being willing to be vulnerable with people who have the power to benefit me has been my way for a long time.
So, that was from the 90’s. Maybe I should now head back to 1954, and see what my kindergarten finger paintings had to say about Bruce in 2014. Doubt if they’re hanging around in the basement, though. I’ll just have to pretend.