What a Closed Mind Looks Like

One day long ago, a man walked along a dusty old road. Soon a lion approached and met him. They struck up a conversation and began walking together.

“Tell me,” said the man, “Of lion and man, who do you consider to possess the greater strength and cunning?”

The lion walked silently, considering the question. There is great power and cunning to speak of for both, he thought. But hard to tell which is greater.

Unable to wait, and considerably more interested in his own opinion anyway, the man answered his own question. “I think it is reasonable to say man is greater,” he said. “You lions possess not the cunning and strategy that make us great. We will always be conquerors, and you will always fear and serve us.”

The lion purred in obvious annoyance. “That is quite a statement,” he replied.

“Follow me,” said the man, “I will prove it to you!”

The man led the lion into the beautiful public gardens and up to a great statue of stone. The god Zeus was depicted ripping apart a lion’s jaws, slaying the stone beast. The man pointed smugly at the statue, waiting for his companion to concede.

The lion stopped in his tracks and stared at the statue in some confusion. Then a grin began to spread across his face. He chuckled and turned to the man. “You are blind, silly man! Look at the inscription! It was a man, like you, who carved this statue,” he said. “Had a lion fashioned this statue, you can be sure that it would be Zeus who was slain. You have proved nothing.”

 

In this old fable, Aesop taught an important lesson: We can easily represent things as we wish them to be. Our minds are shaped by the statues around us. Each statue has its own maker whose mind was also shaped by statues.

Now that does not prove there is no “truth,” no reality. But it warns that we must take care how blindly we commit ourselves to the statues that have shaped us. Why, after all, do we so desperately need to believe our statues are accurate beyond the shadow of a doubt.

Like the man, we are often by nature too confident in our own presuppositions. Too sure of our opinions, too convinced by our own logic.

So it’s time to ask ourselves: Are we blindly following the statues made by our own kind? Or are we truly opening our minds to other ideas–ideas that may be valuable for us, may help us, may change our lives completely?

Gentleness

There’s a verse in the Bible that I’ve tried to live by for the last seven years:

“Let your gentleness be known to all men.”

Gentleness. It’s the first word my girlfriend uses to describe me. But as a kid, I was never gentle. I was very angry, sometimes even a little violent (as violent as a ten-year-old can be, anyway). Everyone and everything around me made me mad, and I didn’t bother hiding it.

I grew up feeling like I had to win every argument and fight. I thought I had to fight for myself whatever the cost. My weapons were sarcasm and a loud voice. If we’re honest, becoming an adult doesn’t fix any of that.

But try living by that verse for a while. When I first read it, all the conflict and stress became a little more black and white. I understood why I had a hard time leading and keeping peaceful friendships.

So I memorized it and thought about it every day for months. I stopped talking as much, stopped insisting on being right, and stopped expressing anger.

I can honestly say, that may have been the biggest turning point in my life. I don’t live in stress and conflict anymore. I don’t drive people away.

“Let your gentleness be known to all men.”

I still refocus on that verse regularly, still live by it. And I can tell you from my own experience: For the sake of your own peace and the peace of your relationships, gentleness is one of the most valuable characteristics you can create in yourself.

2 Salespeople

In every sale there are at least two parties doing the selling.

The “sales” professional pitches the product. He lists its benefits, excuses its weaknesses, and pushes the customer to buy.

But he doesn’t ultimately “sell” the product. Sure he helps, but he doesn’t change the customer’s mind, and he doesn’t make the customer’s decision.

The second salesperson is the customer. And he’s the one who decides the sale and closes the deal.

The customer has different ultimate concerns than the salesperson: The customer thinks, “Is this product good for me?” while the salesperson thinks “How much money can I make selling this product?”

An effective sales professional puts himself in his customer’s shoes so that he can get inside his customer’s head. He asks himself not, “Why do I think he should buy this?” but, “Why would he think he should buy this?”

Because your customer will never care why you think he should buy your product.