Financial Planning | Leadership / Management

Your key to success: Help others succeed

Hands Anyone who thinks humans aren't self-centered hasn't traveled much lately.

Why is my flight late? Where are my bags? You're not going to sit next to me, are you? This line is holding me up. Your incompetence is making my life hell.

It's all about us, isn't it?

The next time you're at the airport, take a good look around. Notice anything? How about the fact that nobody notices you? Everyone is completely wrapped up in their own lives. It's not that they don't care about you. It's just that you don't register with them. They're not selfish; they're just self-absorbed.

And they're not alone. We all do it -- and not just at the airport, either. That self-absorption invades other, more important corners of our lives, too.

Take work, for instance. Too often, we look at business transactions and ask simply, "What's in it for me?" That's a shame, because there's another option that, in the long run, could be even more profitable:

What if we looked at each and every transaction as an opportunity to help someone else? To solve their problems, address their needs, boost their bottom lines? What do you think might happen?

You'll undoubtedly make them very happy, for starters. Beyond that, you'll earn their praise, their trust and, yes, their business.

And here's the funny thing about happy clients: They like to talk. They'll preach the Gospel Of You, and your following will grow.

All because you noticed them.

I don't know if you caught Conan O'Brien's last episode of "The Tonight Show," but amid all the gags, well wishes and remembrances, O'Brien tossed out this gem: "If you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." I'm willing to bet he's right.

You don't need me to tell you this, of course. It's nothing new, it's not rocket science, and most of us are doing it as a matter of course. We all like to think we put our customers first, and a good many of us do.

It's just that so many businesses have looked inward for solutions to their economic woes lately. If we lay off these folks and cut these expenditures or services, maybe we'll be OK until things turn around. And certainly, that type of frugality has its place.

Isn't it possible, though, that the answer lies not in cutting back on what we do but in helping our clients expand on what they do?

Beats me. These are just some random thoughts that popped into my head at the airport recently as I sat around, not being noticed.

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Bill Sheridan