Today I slowed down......and it was good!
It was a special occasion that forced me to do it, but impacted me in such a great way. It has led me to share it with you in hopes that you can find something in it that you need to hear.
I took a cave tour at Mammoth Cave National Park. You see, it was a different day as Ranger Bobby Steenbergen more than likely led his last Violet City Lantern Tour. This ranger just happens to be my Dad and the lantern tour has always been one of his favorites. It's never a good time it seems to step away from work, but I did. For three hours I left the cell phone behind. There were no text messages, e-mails, phone calls, urgent situations or petty office drama. There was just a cave, a dark one at that. But in the darkness I was lit up with thoughts and ideas that we often forget. I realized that I was not so important, as everything kept on trucking during that three hour trip. I was also reminded that my mind is still capable of productive, thoughtful ideas when separated from the chaotic world we exist in.
But what does this have to do with my usual topic of sales training? How can this be of value to those of you across the country who have come to expect tips for sales success and being more successful in our careers?
The answers were found in the way Dad led this group. He's not in sales, but he gets what we often forget. It all starts with making a connection with someone and beginning to build a relationship. You see, in a very short time he built relationships with a group of people he had never met. So, how? He treated every single person with respect. When he spoke to one individual it was as though they were the only ones in the cave. He looked every person in the eye. He understood the power and effectiveness of humor. He was honest with every answer to every question and they trusted him. He was able to show his passion for Mammoth Cave and helped ignite the spark for those with him. He shook their hand when they left and greeted them with the same smile he had in the beginning. And finally, he made sure they knew how much he appreciated them for visiting Mammoth Cave National Park. He just treated everyone like his friend. He understands friendship. HIs best friend walked those passageways with him for many years. Jeff Foster passed away a few years ago, but Dad still walks every trip with him as he has his name written on the inside of his hat. My Dad and Jeff Foster were always the masters at making a connection and ensuring that each person felt special.
It might be important to note that Mammoth Cave has been a family affair. My Father is a retired educator who found a love and a second career at the cave. My sister, my wife and our oldest daughter also worked there while we each were in college.
As I led tours through the cave in the early 90's, I often thought about the footsteps that had come before me. But on this day, at this time and in this cave I was only walking with Dad. You see, I lived in that moment and captured some magic that possibly would have escaped me if my smart phone would have had service.
Perhaps it's time for each of you to find a reason to slow down. Do it today, tomorrow, next week or next month, but just do it. Find a way to quiet your mind and allow your heart to be full. Reflect on what is important. Remember why it is that you do what you do. By taking a moment to slow down and breathe, you will be better equipped to manage the chaos that comes with this thing called life. Maybe, just maybe, you need to spend a little time in the world's longest cave.
I love my Dad and I love that others do also. It was fun to slow down and just be some guy on a cave tour. Today, I was thankful for a Dad who taught me how to connect with people . Unplugging today and reflecting on the things important to me, renewed my energy to do what I do!
Slow down for a bit and you may find the inner fuel to go even faster!!
Written by Derron Steenbergen, President of Swagger Institute
The Swagger Institute is a full service business consulting company specializing in sales and leadership training, motivational speaking and organizational development.