In this series on building sales character, we have been following a proverb that I believe comes from ancient Jewish tradition (Mishnah):
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
In this post, we’ll take up the final line: Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
Many people do not have a clear idea of “destiny.” They don’t conceive a destiny for themselves, or truly understand the concept. What is their destiny? Why are they here? For many it’s just too complex—or they simply don’t wish to confront the issue for themselves. Very few say with certainty, “This is my destiny.” Another way of saying it, of course, is “This is my goal in life.”
It isn’t a simple issue. You can’t just sit in a room and ask yourself, “What is my destiny?” You can’t pick it like you’d choose a restaurant to go to, or a movie you’d like to see.
Thanks to Hollywood the whole subject has become very superficial. You must be a hero, or must give your life, die in a war, or the like. In my opinion this is not the case. I honestly feel that, because of the media, we really get the wrong idea of destiny.
In addition to giving us over-the-top concepts about it, the media highlights people who have “fulfilled their destiny” but are actually a mess, and commit suicide (Robin Williams, Kurt Cobain), overdose on drugs (Heath Ledger, John Belushi and many more) or die just from recklessness (James Dean). These are not the destinies that people should idolize.
A person could have a destiny working on a farm, being a good person, raising children, and taking care of their family. How important is being a farmer? It helps feed the world—without farm products we wouldn’t survive. But many people, having been spoon-fed the wrong information by the media, would say, “Being a farmer is boring! You have to be a superstar, a movie star, a pop star, a politician!” This is simply not true. Destiny can be very simple, and in many ways it should be. Those who are truly living destiny are real people. They have character.
It’s Your Daily Life
So the phrase, “Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny” is really about how you live. It’s the daily activities, not the superficial ones. You arise in the morning and take your children to school. You’re nice to people along with way. At school you speak to the teachers. You go to work. You pick up the kids at the end of the day.
You’ll note that such daily, consistent good work is not something the media can make big news out of. It’s not “interesting.” But without people living destinies like this, our world would not be sustainable. We need consistency in our daily lives, in what we do, in how we treat others. Consistency itself is very important—otherwise how would people know what to expect from you?
Sometimes heroic or amazing acts come out of our daily lives, such as those portrayed in the recent Clint Eastwood film 15:17 to Paris. The film is the real-life story of three military men that stopped terrorists on a French train. Eastwood decided to cast the actual soldiers from the real-life story rather than cast actors in the roles.
But note that none of these men planned this. They didn’t wake up one morning and decide that they would save a train from terrorists—and they certainly never planned to be cast in a Clint Eastwood film. They were just consistently living their lives.
It’s Through Actions
Often destiny is seen backwards, through observing someone’s life. We can see that they have a clear destiny because they’re busy fulfilling it and are good at it. Without them and their actions, the world would not be the same.
A fantastic example of this comes from a story told by Charles Hardy, former Shell Oil executive. He came from Ireland, and his father had been a pastor. After his father passed away, he made his way to the small town where his father had lived—and was amazed at the enormous number of people that were arriving to pay their respects.
Over and over at the funeral, people came up to Mr. Hardy and told them how much of an impact his father had had on their lives. Hardy had never seen them, so he asked where they had come from—and they had flown in from countries all of the world. That is certainly a destiny fulfilled!
Interestingly, though, no one during the pastor’s lifetime would have necessarily noticed that he had a more significant impact than anyone else. He was simply living out his character on a daily basis, which of course became his destiny. It wasn’t loud, colorful, the stuff that newspapers would cover. But when all is said and done it is this kind of life we go to the movies to see, that we admire so much. It is this kind of existence that really impacts us, not the kind that fuels super-action films.
Application to Sales
Applying this to sales, you can already see that “character becoming destiny” is more than simply making the numbers and having a great closing ratio. Character impacts others. It means truly helping prospects and customers, and providing great service. It means the creation of a reputation that brings you many referrals.
In reality, the world is looking for real people, with real meaning in what they accomplish daily. Do that, and the world will beat a path to your door. There is so much “fake” activity happening around us that people are truly seeking answers to the question, “What is real life?”
Life, of course, has to do with the character that you build within yourself. It begins with how you treat yourself, and extends out to how you treat others and you live day-to-day.
And that is the real destiny!