In Marketing Minute, I attempt to share a story or thought from my sales, marketing, parenting, etc. experiences. But – “Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!” (remember that from “Lost in Space?”) – I have messed up much more in my life than I have made wise decisions. Here I share some of my failures, with some successes sprinkled in as well. – Jeff Pinyot
I’ve heard that Thomas Edison failed some 2,000 times before yielding success in his “enlightening invention.” He is credited with this quote: “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Abraham Lincoln was a huge political failure, before persevering to the top of nearly everyone’s list of “Best Ever” presidents. Once declaring bankruptcy and twice failing to earn a seat in the Senate, look what he was able to accomplish with that goofy hat and no mustache.
Many years ago, well before I met my wife, I reluctantly agreed to meet the daughter of a woman who worked at a golf course snack bar that I frequented for lunch (they had the best grilled tuna steak sandwich).
I had recently returned from a trip to Grenada, and her daughter had visited as well. The idea was that we would talk about Grenada, share pictures and see if there was a mutual interest. We were to meet at the golf course.
The day had come for the lunch, and I had forgotten to bring the pictures along with me that morning to work, so I had to make a mad dash for my condo to get the photos.
After retrieving the pictures and jumping back into my car, I came to a busy intersection near my condo, and I had to make a quick decision – ignore the traffic light and still have a slight chance of actually being on time (first impressions, you know), or wait for the light and certainly be late.
I chose the on-time solution … so I flew into the intersection and cut a guy off in true Pittsburgh style. I gazed in my rear-view mirror and saw an older man tailing me; he didn’t look very happy.
As I made turns, he made the same ones. He was following me. I just went on my way and he never wavered. I pulled into the golf course, and he parked his car against the back end of my car to keep me from pulling out.
It was quick decision time again. Here was an older guy with time on his hands and I had no time on my hands. I had to choose between dealing with him in the way my back-up style was – through challenging him – or I could beg forgiveness for endangering him when I cut him off, and plead with him about my need to make a good first impression on a woman.
One option was prideful, and the other was not.
I approached his car, and before he could get out, I leaned in and said, “Sir, I am so sorry for cutting you off at the intersection back there. I am meeting a woman for the first time here today, and I didn’t want to be late. Please forgive me for my reckless driving.”
He was obviously blown away with my statement, as he, like the other me, was poised for a “discussion”; after all, he needed something to talk about with his wife at the dinner table that night.
He responded, “Young man, go, meet that woman, and good luck to you.”
Mary Poppins was right: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” I learned a lot that day about the tone of my voice, the attitude that I carry and the power of the tongue.
I think there is a lesson in there for all of us today. When your wife says to you, “Honey, do these pants make my thighs look big?” Rather than saying, “Big compared to what?” perhaps the better response would be “No, they don’t.”
Sprinkle your responses today and everyday with some kindness, and avoid using the hot sauce as often as possible.
Jeff Pinyot, with ECO Parking Lights, can be reached at email@example.com.