April 28, 2013

Sales is Not Hard. Cancer is Hard

Last week was one of those full-life weeks, not even taking into account client workload, travel schedule or family activities. A lot of life happened last week: a dear friend’s father passed on and the incredible funeral might have been the best celebration of life I’ve ever witnessed; two of my wife’s co-workers and friends gave birth on the same day; another long-time friend returned home from China with their newly adopted child; and on Saturday, we honored and remembered a great friend, who cancer took 15 years ago, by walking in the Friends of Kids with Cancer event here in St. Louis. Needless to say, it was an emotional week. We are still recovering.

The conditions for the Friends of Kids with Cancer Walk were abysmal. It was barely 50 degrees and it rained the entire morning. Yet, you couldn’t hear a complaint from anyone – anywhere. Over a thousand walkers and dozens and dozens of teams, all there to raise money and either honor a loved one who was taken away at far too young an age, or to support and encourage a child who was currently battling this horrific disease. Despite the cold and wet, soaked shoes and socks, and plenty of discomfort, not a whine, not a complaint, not a “woe is me” could be heard. You see, families who have lived through cancer know what hard is. Miserable weather isn’t hard.

Everyone’s positive attitude brought strong memories of my friend Tom to mind. Tom was an incredible man – in many ways. He was a hulk of a guy. Six foot, six. A healthy, strapping, fun, funny, selfless, caring, grounded, talented, and godly young man. I will always remember the day Tom came over to our house to tell Katie and me about his diagnosis. Cancer. A really aggressive type that typically was found in children and started with a tumor in a bone. We’ll never know why or how this afflicted him, but it did. The amazing thing was how Tom handled every aspect of the battle. Not only did he not see himself as a victim, but Tom’s focus was always on others, even as he lived with incredible discomfort while battling for his life.

I could write for days about Tom. His impact on me was profound. Watching his incredible family walk through this cancer ordeal was life-changing for me. His wonderful father is wearing the cap in the picture above, and his sister (who is now a world-class nurse treating children with cancer at St. Jude’s in Memphis) is on the left. His mom isn’t in the picture because she was probably offering words of encouragement to another family at the event. Watching and listening to Tom was an inspiration. I’ll spare you the details of his surgery, awful chemo and radiation. But suffice it to say, what he went through was hard, very hard, very very very hard. And not once did he complain or even admit how hard it was. The guy was a hero to me and to many. And I am happy to tell his story to anyone who wants to hear it. His faith was the bedrock of his life. He was ministering to others to the very end. My last conversation with Tom was a few nights before he died. Our friend Allan (second from the right in the pic) and I were in Tom’s room, supposedly there to love on, pray for and encourage our faithful brother. But Tom was the one encouraging us, preaching God’s goodness, literally singing to Allan and me, and assuring us that he was fine, more than fine. It’s one of the most poignant memories of my life.

So why do I share this with you? What does this have to do with Sales? Honestly, it has everything to do with Sales. And you know the reasons why. But I will offer this rebuke to the whining, victim-mentality, woe-is-me salesperson: Sales isn’t hard. Cancer is hard.  Stop the complaining. Enough with the excuses. Pick up the phone. Make the call. Pursue your dream prospects. Wake up a little earlier. Read that book or blog post to improve your game. Get creative. Put some thought and energy into what you are doing. Show the world your heart is in it. And for goodness sakes, please stop telling us how hard this is. Sales isn’t hard. Cancer is hard.

 

This post is dedicated to my friend Tom, his incredible family, and all the families who’ve lost a child to cancer. We pray for healing of your hearts and we thank you for your example of perseverance.