“Character is what happens when life scratches itself onto your soul.”
from It’s Not About You by Bob Burg and John David Mann
It’s Not About You is a compelling story that doesn’t just talk about the kind of leadership that resonates in today’s world; it shows you what it looks like in action. It is filled with simple yet rich distinctions and brings the wisdom to life through a well crafted story.
For me the story demonstrates the power of letting go of what we want for ourselves, and even what we want for others, and stepping into the world of what others want for themselves. Ultimately that is the source of our influence.
Letting go of thinking we do know or should know what others need and what is right for them is perhaps one of the biggest challenges leaders face today, especially those who have risen through the ranks in more traditional organizations.
Ultimately our true source of power may come from recognizing, despite our best attempts, we cannot control what others think or believe, nor can we control their choices. In the end the main character demonstrates the antithesis of what I would call the “used car salesman”. It is his journey to this realization that makes this book full of insight into ourselves.
When I say “used car salesman” there is a reason it conjures up visions, and for many of us memories, of being manipulated. We all know that feeling of having to resist the convincing and cajoling behavior. It puts us on gaurd. Even when the logic makes perfect sense, we somehow have that sixth sense they are out to take rather than give and we must protect ourselves.
It is easy to unwittingly become our own version of the “used car salesman” when we are focused on ourselves and what we think. We can have the best of intentions, have all the facts, and feel confident we know what is right. Our content and presentation may be flawless. We may even convince some by our flash and/or eloquence. Yet even if the choice in the moment is a “yes”, that “yes” probably won’t last in today’s world.
This book was a potent reminder of the potential cost of an “I know best” attitude when it comes to relationships. Embracing the notion that “it’s not about you” is simple, but certainly not easy. I am appreciative of the wisdom John David Mann and Bob Burg share in this book to help me stay the course despite the all too human tendency to focus on myself.
So when you find yourself thinking you know best, keep in mind it might be costing you more than you think.