A colleague of mine, Pablo, left Salesforce.com to join me on my mission to bring real human connection into all of our lives. The day he left Salesforce, he didn’t announce his resignation to his boss. He went straight to the EVP of all of Sales.
Pablo was a shining star at Salesforce, an up-and-coming sales leader. His EVP tried to talk him out of leaving, but Pablo was 100% set on his decision. He tells him,
“I’m doing this because it’s my calling.”
And that was enough for his EVP to get it. But his response was, “I wish I had a calling.”
When Pablo shared that with me, I was blown away. Here’s an executive at the top of the profession, leading a business built on so-called transformation, working at one of the world’s most “Admired Companies”, and yet he’s not there. His job screams meaning, purpose; a calling.
So what does that say about our profession?
Something is missing and I’ve been thinking a lot about our collective “calling.” We use language like purpose, meaning… even the “WHY” gets thrown around so much these days, and yet, so many people struggle to find it.
I know my why. I know why I do what I do. And yet, there are days when I want to quit, when I hate what I’m doing, when I feel defeated, beat down, when I want to surrender and open up my burrito truck. But that ain’t gonna to happen anytime soon, and it’s because I know why I do what I do – I’ve learned what my calling is.
And I imagine a world where everyone, regardless of our work, finds a deeper connection to the thing we do every day.
Everyone should. It’s a basic human right.
And what if that deeper meaning is already there, lying dormant, waiting to be discovered.
In an Uber ride home recently, I was taught a valuable lesson about this.
I get into Nancy’s Toyota Corolla, get settled in the back seat for my 30-minute ride home. The car isn’t anything special by itself, but there was a real warmth to it. Nancy had the most welcoming greeting. She was quite a bit older than me, and we launched into a wonderful conversation right off the bat. A long the way, I asked her how long she’d been driving for Uber. She said, “Only a couple months.”
She laughed and then said, “I hate traffic and I hate sitting.”
I jokingly responded, “So, you picked the ideal job” (as we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the 405).
And I’ll never forget what followed. She says,
“Each time I pick up a passenger, a piece of them stays with me forever.”
And she talked about how special it is to get to know people, hear their stories, and form a connection. Even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
She then said, “When I drop you off, this conversation, and a piece of you, will stay with me forever. And my life will be better off for it.”
Then with no uncertainty, she says, “I love driving for Uber!”
There it was. Nancy shared her why with me. She doesn’t sit for a living, nor is she stuck in traffic for a living. She didn’t even talk about the joy in getting people to their destinations. She didn’t discover purpose in what she does. It was as if she raised the stakes and discovered something bigger… she found joy, meaning and purpose in the connections she began to make with people.
And that shift in perspective is a lesson for us all in how we find our own meaning with the work we do.
But we have to unwind the old play books.
They’ve told us sales is about quotas. Making dough. The thrill of winning. Beating the competition, and so on. They also define Sales as solving people’s problems. And maybe those things happen, but none of that is going to give us meaning and purpose. In my career, I’ve solved lots of problems, “won” a lot of deals, and made some good dough a long the way, but that stuff has a short shelf life. It doesn’t give us purpose.
In thinking back to Pablo’s EVP of Sales at Salesforce.com, maybe the problem is that he (we all) have been conditioned to define our careers by what we do, what we’re measured on, and what we’re expected to do for the business.
Something bigger is out there; its been there the whole time. It just requires a shift in perspective.
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