Monday, June 8, 2015

What Do You Bring to The Table?

A generous person will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

Michael Ellsberg is an author who studies men and women who became millionaires and billionaires by dropping out of the system, people who did not follow both normal career and educational paths, but found unusual ways to achieve success. Of course the ability to network and sales skills were important tools that helped them on the path to financial freedom. In Ellsberg’s mind networking and sales skills are different but inseparable threads in the paradox of success:

In order to advance your own agenda, you must forget about yourself and your agenda. Instead, you must focus on the agenda of your employer or your customers who are ultimately, your employer.

As you build a network, you are marketing a product. That would be you. No, I am not suggesting that you approach every potential relationship in life like a sleazy used car salesman looking to make a kill. Instead focus on listening and learning. How can you be of service to this individual? What do you know or have that they might need? It is easy to believe that when you approach a person who is successful, wealthy, and powerful, like your boss that she holds all the cards. That isn’t true. Just like you, she has needs. Perhaps you know something or someone who can satisfy those needs. Perhaps all they need is an opportunity to talk. Can you hear what their words really mean? Every person has his own values and goals. These are not the same as your values and goal but they are every bit as valid and valuable to him/her as yours are to you.

Life is complex. Health, a meaningful job, financial freedom, a happy family life, a supportive social network, and spirituality are all necessary components in a happy successful life. Nobody is killing it in all these areas. You might know something about healthy living that could benefit another. You might be in a position to introduce someone to another person who could hook them up with a better job. Whatever you have that might benefit another, look for opportunities to be a blessing. In Maryland I knew two good automobile mechanics. In my new home, neither of my cars has yet required any serious work. Where do I take them if something major goes wrong? I hope a friend can clue me in when the time comes.

Proverbs 18:16
“A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.”

The obvious application in the Biblical world would be offering a gift to a king or the minister of a king to obtain access to the throne room, but it could just as easily apply to the talents of a skilled craftsman or a competent physician. I would offer even another understanding of this proverb. The gifts of someone with a generous spirit, someone who is open to opportunities to be a blessing to others, great or small, will in turn be blessed. Their gifts will open doors and make room for them, maybe even in the presence of the mighty.

I have listened to the stories of many highly successful men. All of them that I would want to emulate in some way or another are givers. One of them, an elderly man who owns an insurance agency, gives away his entire after tax salary (approximately $1 Million a year) from his business to charity. Don’t worry. His many investments more than take care of his family’s needs.

Be a blessing, knowing that while God is not a cosmic gumball machine that exists for our benefit, he will be faithful to reward those who diligently seek after him and walk in his ways.

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