Once upon a time, a student travelled far and wide in order to expand his knowledge of the path. One day, much to his delight, he was granted an audience with a revered Zen Master. When they sat down together he shared the many things he had learned on his journey.
After listing politely for just over an hour, the Master called for tea.
As always, the tea was prepared according to an elaborate set of rituals. When the time came to pour, the Master performed the honours himself.
However, to the student’s dismay, the Master didn’t stop pouring the tea once the cup was full. He continued to pour until it began spilling over the sides and into the saucer.
The student didn’t want to be so presumptuous as to correct the Master, but when the tea began pouring over the sides of the saucer to form a puddle on the floor, he felt he had little choice.
‘Excuse me, Master’, he said respectfully, ‘but you must stop poring. The cup is full and can’t take any more tea’.
‘Ah’, said the Master with a twinkle in his eye. ‘Like this cup your mind is full of your own ideas and thoughts of your learning. If you want to learn something new, first you must empty the cup!’
First, you must empty your mind
Depending on what’s going on in your world at the moment, this short story may resonate with you in a particular way or you may be able to relate to its message in more ways than one. I came across it this week whilst reading Michael Neil’s, The Inside Out Revolution and it definitely struck a chord.
Whether the context be one of sales or personal development, it’s certainly got some merit and so I thought I’d share with you what I took as they key messages from the story.
As to which is the most relevant, I’ll let you decide.
1. Stop trying to be interesting
When you have the chance to be with someone important to you, take the time to understand their world first. It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of trying to be interesting by talking and telling. But the best way to be interesting it to be interested – and that means taking the time to listen to the other person first.
2. Forget conventional wisdom
Put aside conventional wisdom and get rid of the rubbish you’ve been told over the years about selling. The Always Be Closing (ABC) approach to selling is dead. It antagonises and alienates people and is reflective of a time gone by. Focus instead on understanding others and creating value for them.
3. Give people time to think
When you ask someone a question, let them answer it. Don’t assume you know what the other person is going to say and answer it for them – even in the event you get it right, you’ll never say it quite how they would.
4. Open you mind
Be prepared to see a different perspective, a new perspective. Don’t assume your way is the only way – be willing to look for new and better ways and to have your thinking challenged. Encourage others to challenge how you see things and be open to their feedback.
5. Don’t over-think and over-analyse situations
All the thinking in the world is unlikely to make a tough decision any easier – and so filling your mind with multiple options and cluttered thoughts isn’t going to help. Instead, clear your mind and trust your instinct. That instinct is a far more reliable source of wisdom than a cluttered mind.