It is once again Thanksgiving week in America. For the last several years I’ve devoted my Thanksgiving week newsletter to a personal laundry list of reasons I (Doug) am thankful. This year, due to an unusual encounter I had a couple of months ago, I’m going to change the narrative a bit, while sticking with the theme of thankfulness.
I’ll start by sharing an encounter that Jesus had with a group of men with an incurable disease, as told in Luke 17. He and his disciples were traveling through a part of Samaria, located about 40 miles north of Jerusalem, their ultimate destination. Samaria was a province of multiracial people that Jews didn’t mix with, and so here is the gist of the story.
They entered a Samaritan village, and ten lepers standing at a distance, recognized Jesus. They yelled to Him to have mercy on them. (Leprosy was an incurable disease and people with it were forced to live in camps outside the village. They were responsible to shout, “Unclean,” when encountering others, to warn them of their contagious condition.)
Jesus looked at them and told them to go to the Jewish priest and show him they were healed! But their leprosy didn’t begin to disappear until they were on their way in search of the priest. (Obviously the healing was based on their faith in Jesus’ instructions, and their action which ensured the cure.)
When they saw they were healed one of them came back to Jesus and fell at His feet, thanking Him for what He had done. Jesus was moved by the man’s response. Knowing ten men were healed, Jesus asked where the other nine were. With this story in mind, here is the correlation I want to make.
Nearly sixteen years ago in 2004, I was a sales trainer for Rollins, Inc. Most weeks I facilitated a training class or workshop for either residential or commercial salespeople. In one particular 5-day class for rookie commercial account managers, an extremely sharp young man named Sherman Hampton attended (photo on left). His infectious smile and engaging personality “wowed” me before the first day of class concluded. I often say, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear,” and Sherman was ready!
Engaged and caring training professionals always enjoy pouring their knowledge and experience into “for real” learners. I just knew Sherman would be somebody special in this new profession, and he and I developed a special bond beginning during that week.
Sherman breezed through the class that week easily earning “outstanding student” status. He went on from there and successfully sold as a Branch Account Manager for 3 years. He quickly gained the attention of upper management and was awarded a well-deserved District Sales Manager position. For the next 7 years he led groups of commercial sellers in several districts, spanning eight states. During most of those years I was invited to several workshops for his district to coach on various topics of selling interest to his team. Whether one looked at Sherman’s recruiting/staffing, leadership, training, team building, or sales results; he was top shelf in every area of his job.
My tenure with that company ended in 2011, during his DSM tenure, and so we communicated less after my departure. But 6 years ago he proudly informed me that one of his career objectives became reality. He was promoted to the position of National Accounts Manager! That’s really a big deal as there are only about a half-dozen folks occupying that role in the entire country with that firm. I was very happy for him and very proud of him.
Just as Sherman has always done in every position he has occupied, he has risen to the top of the NAM ranks. One day a couple of months ago Sherman called me to say he had two announcements. He excitedly shared that he qualified for his company’s PRESIDENTS CLUB for this year as a multi-million dollar producing National Accounts Manager. That is a HUGE accomplishment that most folks never attain, and the accompanying paychecks are providing his family with a lifestyle most only dream of.
He then told me his second announcement. (This brings us back full circle to this week’s Thanksgiving theme) Sherman shared that he felt strongly that he owed lots of credit for this accomplishment and every other business success he has experienced with this company to two specific people. He said without the assistance and encouragement of those two people he would not be where he is, and he wanted and needed to acknowledge both of them.
The next thing he said was, “Doug, you are one of those two people. I specifically wanted to call you today to tell you how grateful I am for all the knowledge and encouragement you have provided to me in my career. I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t met you all those years ago.”
Needless to say that’s the last thing I expected to hear when I saw Sherman’s name show on the face of my iPhone that day as it rang. I’ll admit my voice cracked a bit as I graciously accepted his thankfulness. I also reminded him that I would never try to usurp any credit for the successes of the stellar career he is having. So here is the connection I promised:
I am not Jesus and Sherman is not a leper. However, Sherman returned to express thanksgiving about something that happened for him that was important in his life.
I am so thankful that Sherman was thankful!
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