We live in an age of skeptics. It’s cool to be cynical. If you actually believe in something, you’re just plain naive. You’re a sell-out. You’ve been swindled. You simply can’t have a conviction today without people thinking that it is a blind one. And none of us wants to be the one who drinks the Kool-Aid…
If we guard our beliefs, we’ll never end up looking like idiots. But, there’s a downside. If we go through life cynical about everything we encounter, we’ll never commit to anything. And our lack of commitment will show. People won’t believe what we say, because they’ll sense that we don’t fully believe it ourselves. We’ll give others the impression that we are apathetic or that we don’t take anything seriously. Sometimes, you’ve got to say, “Bottoms up,” and give the Kool-Aid a shot…
Commitment to Your Company
If there’s one place that people are cynical, it’s in business. We’ve all been consumers on the end of a shady deal. And we also know that people are naturally skeptical when you are trying to sell them something. Skeptical of the company. Skeptical of the product. Skeptical of the motives of the salesperson. All too often, as small business people, we allow cynicism to creep into our own minds and we cease to believe in our own companies.
I’ve seen it time and again with employees. They’ll sit around while there are no customers (or managers) present and mock the ideals of the company. “XYZ cares about its customers??? Yeah, sure. They care about their customers’ wallets!” Or maybe, “ABC’s ________ is made of the finest __________??? Please, it’s just a cheap piece of crap with a fancy label.” Employees are doggedly opposed to pledging allegiance to their companies. They don’t want to look like converts…so they end up looking like cynical jerks.
And, believe it or not, it isn’t just employees. It’s also the owners of small businesses themselves. Even they will start to believe that what they’re selling isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’ll be more subtle, but they will mock the values their companies profess. They’ll answer a question about their company with a snippet from their mission statement, but they’ll do it with a tone of sarcasm. Like, “Don’t you know, we put the customer first in everything we do?”
People don’t want to show commitment to the companies in which they work. Commitment isn’t cool. Cynicism is cool.
Through a Straw…or Not at All
You know what I say? I say forget what’s cool. Forget what other people believe about you or your company. What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about your company? Those are the only questions that really matter.
Anthony Iannarino wrote an article a while back called, “Cynicism is a Recipe for Mediocrity.” In it, Anthony elaborates on how salespeople specifically are hesitant to buy into the hype about their own companies. The problem is that, in doing so, they deny their own success, the success of the company they represent, and any benefit they might provide for the customers. Anthony’s recommendation: “Either drink the Kool-Aid or go find some Kool-Aid that you will drink.”
I could not agree more. If you don’t genuinely believe in the values your company espouses or the quality of the products it offers, don’t work there. If you don’t really believe that the business you run does what it says it can do, close up shop. No one is forcing you to commit but, if you’re going to commit, commit for real. Go all out. 100 percent. Never be ashamed to sell out if you’re selling out to something worthy of buying into.
Don’t just drink the Kool-Aid. Guzzle it. Drink the Kool-Aid through a straw…or don’t even drink it at all.