Do you remember a time where your true self started to become revealed? Was there a time where you felt like this is what you were meant to live for? In the most unexpected of circumstances, I had someone believe in me that changed the trajectory of my life forever. At the time, did I realize it? No. Did I know this was a passion of mine? No. What happened that day sparked something that had been placed inside me only to slowly reveal itself and show its true meaning. At this moment of discovery, I was halfway across the country away from all my family and most of my friends. It was the summer of 2012, the summer that I acted upon something I never thought I would do. I became a book salesman.
Knocking door-to-door to sell books to families may not be the most highly desired summer job, especially when you get the door slammed in your face, cussed at, and have a local drive you off and tell you to go back where you came from. The life of a book salesman has its highs and lows, there is no doubt about that. I will tell you that it was the largest emotional roller coaster of my life. There were days where I had my highest sales of the summer and sold all the books I could have possibly imagined. Then there were days where I completely gave up from the endless amounts of rejection. I felt hopeless, like no one cared about me or what I had to offer them. As the summer had passed, I had come across a particular house. This house had four large pillars and a massive entry way that would wow anyone that approached it. I knocked on the door…….no answer. Moments later I heard a shout from the balcony above. A man told me to hold on and that he would be down in a minute. I waited until he opened the door. He said he was in a rush, but he was interested in what I had to offer. He told me to come to his pizza place later in the week to tell him about the educational books I was selling, that way his whole family could be there. The only issue was that the company I was working for trained us not to worry about a customer that would not buy the moment you arrived at their door. However, there was something different about this guy. I decided to take the risk. I met him at his pizza place.
A few days later I arrived at his restaurant with a warm welcoming from him and his family. He had offered me a full pizza and drink on the house. We finally reached the table. It was time to get down to business. After I gave him my pitch, he told me his story. This was a man that came over from Greece with nothing but the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet. He had a dream to start a pizza restaurant in the United States to provide for his family, to give them a life where they would not have to worry about the stress of not having money. He and his family had lived above his restaurant to make ends meet at the start. As the business grew, the weight of scraping by had lifted. He no longer had to worry about the stress of feeding his family or paying the bills to keep the lights on. At the end of his story, he told me something I will never forget, “Carl, you will be successful! Nobody your age is willing to do what you are doing this summer. Nobody will work as hard as you.” My heart dropped as I was filled with the fact that someone believed in me. He believed in me so much that he was willing to contribute whatever it took to invest in his son’s education. That belief in me was the ignition to what I had been searching for, what I had been longing for. I had discovered leadership.
By the positive example that this man gave me, I realized that believing in people is one of the greatest gifts you can give. His story was a story that shook me to my core, a story that would forever change me. His belief in me gave me the opportunity to believe in others. He gave a piece of his life in hope that he could change mine. This was the point where I found out what leadership was all about: giving your life in service to others to help them become who they were meant to be, to reach their full potential. There are times where we least expect positive change, but when those times come, we can make a difference in our life, and in the lives of others. What will you do to lead the people in your life? What change do you want to make? Serve others and never give up on your dream! Do what it takes, discover your greatness, and be who you were meant to be!
Carl currently resides in Wichita, KS where he coaches and consults businesses, community groups, and individuals with Exemplify.