To the Extent I am Protected, You Are Protected!

Winner’s Circle.  President’s Club. Sales Excellence.  Whatever the name, these reward trips are pure gold for the top sales performers in a company.  Over the years, they have been a source of both pride and rejuvenation for me, helping to justify the chutes and ladders career of a sales professional.

One year, with a former company, I had the privilege of taking my wife to Hawaii with several other winners.  The sunsets, beach parties, excursions, and general bonding with co-workers and spouses were simply incredible.  But there is one scene that stood amongst the rest.

There was an organized morning hike to several waterfalls scheduled for the second day.  My wife and I motivated with a few other close friends and sales people from across the company.  Our Global Head of Sales, who had brought in several of his own people from another company, joined for the excursion as well.

At some point, I wandered ahead, only to stumble on a serious conversation between the head of sales and one of the guys he had brought in.

(All conversations are in a thick Bronx accent)

“My numbers are looking down this year, and I just want to make sure, you know, I am protected.”

Our head of sales took a moment to pensively reflect toward the rising run.  After a dramatic pause, he turned toward the sales guy and dramatically dispensed his verdict.

“To the extent I am protected, you are protected!”

The sales guy let out a palpable sigh of relief, genuflected on one knee, and kissed the ring of our head of sales.

“Oh thank you, Godfather!”

(Okay, the kneeling and the “Godfather” part never happened, but the rest is absolutely true!)

And as ridiculous as this story is, it demonstrates a fundamental tenet of resilience.  Whether in our personal or professional lives, we all need someone to have our back.  At some point, we all need protection.

We Need to Feel the Love

In our work lives, there are times when everything feels out of synch.  We have trouble entering a new market.  We struggle with new competition.  We experience a personality clash with a co-worker or subordinate.  We feel marginalized by a new acquisition.  We don’t feel the love from our boss. During these times, our commitment to our career can wane.  We feel exposed and all alone.  Our motivation and sense of purpose dip.  Our resilience shrinks when we feel isolated and unprotected.

And this is even more important in our personal lives.  We need to know that our spouse has our back.  We need a sign that our children are listening.  Our children need to know that we will walk through fire for them.  When we feel unprotected, it is hard for us to pay it forward.  It is hard for us to recover from setbacks.  If we don’t feel the love, it is hard for us to give it in return.  And soon, there is a dangerous spiral of apathy and regression.

Culture is Built on Security

And that is why perspective is so important.  Every time we protect the best interests of a co-worker or teammate, we make that person stronger.  Every time we go to bat for a loved one, or offer a second chance, we make that person more capable of paying it forward.  Loyalty and protection feed on themselves and create a culture where everyone feels safe and valued. And that creates bonds which are VERY difficult to break.

That doesn’t mean we have to handle everyone with kids gloves and shy away from conflict.  We all have to be held personally and professionally accountable.  Sometimes, we have to shake the trees in order motivate someone to get back on the rails.  Sometimes, we have to have tough conversations to protect a love one from a dangerous situation.  Protection doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy.

Protection is a Two-Way Street

But in down times, we just need to know that someone cares.  That someone will stand up for us.  That someone will invest enough time in us to prove that we matter.  Even a small amount of care and protection will feed our resilience.  That will give us the strength to put our struggles in perspective and continue to fight for something better.  And that will give us the confidence to offer our own protection and care in return.

Protection and security are two way streets.  We have to give to get.  So let’s be brave enough to offer that protection and humble enough to accept it in return.

That is what resilience is all about.

 

Originally published by the Resilient Worker

Strategic Management Executive Coaching