"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee” Ezekiel 25:17, Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction
In the latter part of the 1994 Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction the character named Jules Winnfield, played by the one and only Samuel L Jackson, is in a contemplative mood. Earlier in the day he had an experience that caused him to reflect on his life of crime and he now has a new perspective on the meaning of the biblical passage above that had been his calling card for many years. Here’s the scene (Be warned the language is a little colourful!):
It occurred to me that just like Jules, we as sales professionals are faced with a similar opportunity for reinvention, if not redemption. The corporate world is changing and we need to change with it rather than resist it. The age of the selfish, self-absorbed, take, take, take sales mindset has passed and so has that relentless pursuit of profit above all else culture that fostered it.
That being said, just like Jules faces opposition from his compadre Vincent Vega (John Travolta) as he contemplates the new direction his life will take, there are those that will try with all their might to hang on to the ‘good old days’. They refuse to accept the inevitable truth. In my view their desperate resistance betrays their true character, one that is fuelled by fear rather than strength. You see the future is one of empowerment, purpose, authenticity, trust, collaboration and the pursuit of shared value. These are all principles that challenge the "Get out there and make more sales or else." command and control mindset that pumps their ego's so they fear it. Everything they do is so geared to this outdated paradigm. It's where they get their strength. It seems to be an intoxicating addiction they just can’t kick.
I like to think all their fuss and bluster is for naught. The momentum for change is too great and they will ultimately go the way of the dinosaurs. The real challenge we face as sales professionals and sales organisations is to make a choice about the role we want to play in shaping this brave new world. I've made mine. Like Jules, I'm trying real hard to be the Shepherd. Will you join me?
Ian J Lowe is the CEO of Go-Givers Australia, a sales transformation, coaching and consulting organisation offering a unique culture-defining philosophy and framework that makes giving value the cornerstone of a refreshingly open and authentic approach to selling.
Image Credit - Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino, Miramax.