Most people say it is impossible to change another person.
Yet salespeople are in the very business of changing other people. Teachers are in the business of changing the understanding of their students. Doctors are in the business of changing the health of their patients. Parents spend their life trying to change their children to become upstanding citizens, responsible, kind, and contributors to society.
Wise and seasoned people often cite the principle, “You can’t change another human being, you can only change yourself.” And there is much truth there.
But what if you could?
Change another person I mean. Granted, you probably have to change your approach… change yourself… first.
But what if you could actually change another human being?
I’m not talking about just changing their behavior. I can make my kids go to school. I can’t make them stay. I can’t make them learn.
I’m talking about persuasively helping them change their beliefs, their desires, their hopes, their goals, their level of happiness. Humans aren’t rats in a maze. There is equal truth in the statement that, “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.”
So if you could, what would you do? How would you do it?
Clayton Christiansen knows.
The renowned Harvard professor, leader, and author of The Innovators Dilemma and the ground-breaking concept of business disruptors, recently shared how years ago a number of his students, for reasons he could not figure out, truly did not enjoy his class. This was a new challenge for him as his courses had been quite popular.
So he met with the disgruntled students alone and in groups. And they all gave different feedback. No common threads.
Basically, Clayton would have to change everything he did. Even worse, they liked the course, just not how he taught it. Highly frustrated, he asked his more experienced colleagues to observe his teaching, but they couldn’t put their finger on what he needed to change.
In the middle of this struggle, on a plane flight to Minneapolis, Clayton sat next to an elderly man who belonged to the Lakota Indian tribe.
He was very wise. In their conversation he learned of Clayton’s profession and asked, “Is it fun to teach at Harvard?”
Clayton responded that it normally was, but this semester was very difficult and explained how his students didn’t enjoy his class.
After listening patiently, the man said, “The reason this is happening is that you are not teaching with love. You always need to teach with love.”
This profound comment took Clayton completely by surprise. The concept of teaching with love and the Harvard Business School case method had never been put together prior to this.
So the next day he tried it.
Just before he entered the classroom he knelt down in his office in meditation, self-reflection, and prayer. His desire was that his students would feel love emanating through the way he taught.
Within a few days the animosity left. It was replaced with a spirit of warmth, trust, and happiness. And many of those students have remained close to Clayton ever since.
More interesting, many of them wondered what happened.
They asked Clayton and he told them the story of an elderly man from the Lakota Indian Tribe on an airplane to Minnesota.
But only after Clayton changed. Now Clayton Christensen is recognized as one of the greatest teachers to ever grace the halls of Harvard Business School, arguably the number one university in the world.
To this day love is the single most powerful thing Clayton Christensen teaches in his classroom and in his life.
He has beaten cancer, a stroke, and a heart attack.
He is often asked to speak.
One of his latest books called “How Will You Measure Your Life?” is reviewed by our own Forbes staffer Bruce Upbin who says:
“It’s one of the more surprisingly powerful books of personal philosophy of the 21st century.”
In my business, InsideSales.com, we sell software and share research that increases the likelihood that people will buy something.
I talk to hundreds of professional salespeople trying to find out makes them tick. Many is the time I hear them say, “I can’t sell something I don’t believe in.”
They need to know that love is far more powerful than belief.
Love takes work. It is a decision that leads to action that leads to feeling that leads to change.
I ask them, “Do you truly love what you do? Do you love who work with? Do you love who you work for?”
If not you have two choices: change your work, or work your change.
I have five kids… four boys and a girl. In the early days I spent a lot of time with them. My oldest kids knew I loved them because I did stuff with them. I coached their baseball and football, I listened to their music, I even played video games: Warcraft II, Heroes, and Starcraft.
I was in their world.
Then when I needed to correct them, to lecture them, and to teach them, they listened. And they changed. They knew I loved them.
Then I got busy… really busy: The bane of an entrepreneur.
My youngest sons heard the same lectures, but only heard the lecture… not the love.
So I have recently stepped down from many other things, scaled back.
I am trying to focus. Our cloud-based software and predictive analytics business is being recognized as one of the fastest growing around. Inc. said we are the fifth fastest hiring company in the software space. Yes, we are growing like crazy, we are winning…
But I don’t want to win the battle and lose the war.
I’m trying to listen to an old elderly man from the Lakota Indian tribe… who taught a principle to one of the greatest teachers on the planet from the greatest teacher on the planet. He helped innovate an application of a principle to the person who owns the very concept of innovation.
He applied a new twist to a powerful, simple lesson…
And now these three remain: Teaching, lectures, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.