Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  


Helpers In Our Path

     When I was young, I thought when we grew up and reached age 21 or so your personality “locked in” and you were who you were for the rest of your life.  Man, was that wrong.  This is obvious to people my age, but we are so different at 40 than we were at 21, and even more different at 50 than we were at 40.  One example being – as we say so often the more we age – “If I had only known then what I know now.”  Had I known what I know now, how different my career choices might have been, and how different my dealings with other people would have been.  There are so many things we aren’t taught, or failed to listen even if we were taught.  Some studies suggest that our mid-forties are a time when our lives are filled with change.  I’m one of those.  Mine spilled over and went everywhere… 
     I never cared for salesmen in my early adult years.  They were just people who were trying to get your money, and usually very annoying.  Imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning and found that I was one.
     I left my job and career when I was 45.  A strange time.  I decided to do what I loved with the rest of my days.  I began to write about the people and horses who helped me in life.  In a short time, I had stacks of books everywhere.  It dawned on me one day that I needed to sell some of them, ‘cause pretty soon I wouldn’t be able to walk around in my house.  How hard could that be?  I had a terminal degree in human relations.  No problem, right?  I knew all about people, right?  I remember so clearly how shocked I was when the “sales business” taught me I didn’t know anything about people at all.  Nothing at all.  Then, I got lucky.  I started meeting people…and they weren’t like anyone I had met before.
     Ever notice how when you talk to some people, they talk about themselves, and continue to do so?  Once they get the conversational ball, they never bat it back.  They keep it.  I began to notice some people didn’t do that.  You could ask them something and they would certainly give you an appropriate response, but in no time they would bat the ball back to you, and they continued to talk to you about you!   My sales skills improved overnight.  One of many was Jim Stovall.
     Jim has done well in life.  He’s won an Emmy, written over a dozen books that sell all over the world, and made a number of movies.  (One of my favorites is The Ultimate Gift.)  All that is remarkable, and you learn how much so when you discover Jim did all this after losing his sight.  I send him my column and he sends me his.  Here’s a story he shared this week…
     He ran on to a study that was conducted in Starbucks.  A man sat at a table with a sign that read, “Free coffee if you will listen to my story.”  He sat there for several hours.  Not one person accepted his offer for free coffee in exchange for listening to his story.
     The next day, he sat at the same table with a slight adjustment to his sign.  This time, the sign read, “Free coffee if you will tell me your story.”  A line formed almost immediately and grew so long, the experiment had to be cancelled because of the number of people waiting to tell their story. 
     How I wish I knew then what I know now.  How I wish I knew then what all those special people I met told me about sales, about horses, and about life over the last twenty years.  Helpers are placed in our path on our journey.  Jim is one of many.  That column he wrote was just one instance of the countless times his wisdom has helped me – and that story did as well.  I hope it helped you, because nothing helps us more or gains us more friends than listening with all the muscles in our ears.  Some people should leave those muscles in their ears to science.  They would be in perfect condition… because they have never been used to hear humans or horses.
     Anything you want to tell me?
     I’ll listen.   

-- Michael Johnson                      


Sharon and Rowdy




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