Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Tenth Leper

Over the last couple of days I have been listening to Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, interviewing Tim Ferris, a best selling non-fiction author. I strongly recommend I Will Teach You to Be Rich for the well educated, ambitious young person. During the course of the interview the discussion drifted to the subject of random contacts with celebrity types. What do they really want from someone who can’t offer them anything of value? Based on their own experience as successful authors, they concluded that what they really wanted from these chance conversations was some kind of feedback. If during the course of a brief exchange (say at a book signing) they recommended another book, they both absolutely loved getting an email back from the stranger telling them that they read the book, tried out what was in the book, and enumerated the results (or lack of results).

My mind immediately jumped to the story of the ten lepers from Luke 17. Jesus meets ten lepers out on the road. They ask for healing. Jesus tells them to, “Show yourself to the priests.” As the lepers went to the temple, they were healed. Only one came back to thank Jesus—and he was a Samaritan, a half breed heretic. Jesus was thoroughly impressed. That does not happen very often.

From my readings and observations, I have concluded that today more than ever, who you know is more important than what you know. Folks, Chelsea Clinton does not have a net worth of $15 Million at age 33, because of her skills as a manager and entrepreneur.

In some companies about 50% of their new hires come from personal recommendations made by their existing employees. If a high quality ambitious employee is willing to put their reputation on the line by recommending someone in their network, there is a very high probability this person will be a very good employee. Building a network of well connected “friends” is more important than it should be, but that is the way it is. There is no point in cursing the world. If you can’t change it, learn to live in it.

This principle is not limited to a job search in our post industrial economy. If you want to get better at anything or improve some aspect of your life, learn from those who about that subject. Seek them out. If someone who has knowledge or power helps you out, thank them. This may not get you a connection that will lead to an education at Stanford and Oxford, or a job with the Avenue Capital Company, but you never know.

I am trying to become a better writer. I have two old friends who have actually written and published books. What do they know that I do not know? I have also discovered that our new church has a writers group led by an English professor who teaches at a nearby university. In attending this group for the first time, I have learned that several of them are published authors. Some of them have published more than one book. Just think, these people are getting paid to write what they want to write. How cool is that? What can I learn from these people?

I would love to know the rest of the story. What happened to the tenth leper after his “chance” meeting with Jesus? If Jesus was impressed with this man, I doubt that was the end of his story.

Jesus Heals Ten Men with Leprosy

Luke 17: 11-19

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

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