A few weeks back was a proud moment for me. I have always considered my number one job to be helping my team advance in the industry and realize the American Dream. When it happens it is the most rewarding part of my job, in fact, I would do it for free even without my current position.
Over the years I have helped countless people attain their licenses in our industry, move into management positions, or even start their own business. It is by far the most rewarding thing a person can do. I am very anxious to keep growing this business so I can continue to help others see their aspirations come to fruition.
This week I received word that one of my team will be moving into a management position for our Fire Alarm group here at M.C. Dean. I was so excited for him that I was telling a good friend of mine, we will call him Jerry for the purpose of this article, about the turn of events, and he surprised me with his response. Jerry said to me, “why would you put up a member of your team for a management position in another vertical of the company? All that time you spent training them, and now someone else will get the benefits. I would have kept him rather than let someone else reap the rewards of a great member of my team.”
I explained to Jerry that it isn’t about me or what I can get out of anything, it is about my team and helping them get to where they want to go on their career path. If I can do that, I am successful, if not I have failed. Jerry just stood there shaking his head and didn’t understand how I could think that way. I told Jerry, ok let’s think selfish for a moment. Let’s say I didn’t introduce my team member as a candidate for this opportunity and kept him for myself. I know that this particular individual wanted to be a manager, he had expressed this to me many times, and I also knew that he would be a good fit for the role. So if I didn’t have an opportunity within my division to offer him, what do you think would eventually happen? Yes, maybe he would wait around for a little while, but maybe he wouldn’t. Then my competition would have the benefit of one of my shining stars rather than our company. Jerry said to me, “well that’s a chance I take every day!”
At this point, I was getting frustrated. I knew Jerry was a selfish person and cared more about himself than helping others, but I was hoping I could get through to him. So I tried explaining to him the joy I felt in helping others. Not because I would get anything out of it, but solely because they deserve the help. I explained to him that I have only received the success I have due to others helping me and giving back is just the right thing to do. But it is more than that!
Knowing that Jerry was a huge football fan, and I have a bad habit of putting everything into football terms (as many of you who have read my book already know), I said think back to when you coached your son's football team. Did you get paid for that? No! Did you work with the kids to teach them what you knew and to make them better football players? Yes! So how would you feel if one of those players you taught came from a low-income family and aspired to be a pro football player someday? Let’s go one more step, what if you were the one who inspired him to become a pro? And then, what if he made it into the pros, and was able to provide for his family and buy his parents a home? How would that make you feel? Jerry, smiled from ear to ear, “that would be awesome” he said! I smiled and said well that is how I feel now and that is what I get to do for a living. Sure maybe not on the same level as teaching professional football players, but I have the opportunity to help transform my team members lives. So it isn’t about what I can get out of it, it is about what can I do to help them.
In today’s world, I see too many people in need of help and so few willing to give back unless there is something in it for them. All too often you see people in the entertainment industry giving to charities, or helping the less fortunate only to get the photo opportunity and keep themselves relevant. If it were really charity, you wouldn’t need the cameras. But, with that said, looking for the silver lining, at least the cameras and the photo opps are bringing attention to the charity, so that is a good thing.
Now I am not saying that just because there are cameras, that means people are only doing charity work to be photographed. Many great entertainers use their status to effect real change and help the less fortunate, Fred Taylor is one that comes to mind, and to those special people, I give huge props.
There are many responsibilities when you are the one in charge, and it is easy to lose focus on what’s important. However, the most important thing should always be the health and happiness of your team. I wrote this article so that hopefully I can inspire others to give back, not for the publicity or for what they can get out of it, but for the act of kindness itself. I can promise you that there is nothing better than helping others achieve their dreams and building the next generation of leaders, who will hopefully also pay it forward.