Unbelievable, but true: I learned one of the greatest lessons concerning my personal value and potential at age 19 at a car dealer’s.
And not just any car dealer, but Porsche. Not that I’d been driving a Porsche at 19 … but I have always been dreaming of it. The Porsche 911 Turbo was my favorite car.
My reality was a burgundy Ford Fiesta from 1991. Old. Ugly. Rusty. The chrome accessories that I had installed didn’t really add much value either.
One day, I drove my old Ford onto the parking lot of the Porsche dealer and parked it between all the luxury cars. Man, that felt weird! My car simply didn’t fit in. I didn’t fit in! But I was on a mission. I got out of my car and went inside.
Well-dressed people from the higher middle and upper class raised their eyebrows when they saw me. Even the salespeople didn’t seem to know what to do with me. Trying to ignore me, their furtive glances sent messages of “What do you want?” and “You’d better leave again!”
But then it happened: one of the salesman approached me and actually asked me how he could help me. I told him about my obsession with the Porsche 911 Turbo and finally stood in front of my dream car. I didn’t know a thing about it, I wouldn’t even have recognized it among other cars. But the salesman – fully aware of my ignorance – took the time to explain everything to me. He listened closely when I told him about the sky blue Matchbox Porsche that my parents had given me. He invested time and attention in me and even gave me a few high-gloss Porsche brochures.
Towards the end of our conversation the man asked me if I still had any questions. I couldn’t resist: “You saw my car, the way I dress – it is obvious that I cannot afford a Porsche. Why then did you take the time to inform me so thoroughly? Why did you give me those expensive brochures?”
He answered: “You know, I’m not serving today’s customers, but those of ten years in the future.”
This statement took my breath away. This man saw something in me that I didn’t believe in myself – nor did others. For him it was absolutely possible that I would be able to buy a porsche in ten years. It was just a win in the lottery away! What a lesson in valuing someone and having a vision for someone’s life!
Goethe once said: “Look at a man the way that he is, he only becomes worse. But look at him as if he were what he could be, then he becomes what he should be.”
That is exactly what this Porsche salesman did. He saw me as the person that I could once become. This triggered ambition and hope in me, the confidence that one day I would be able to buy a Porsche. I mean, winning the lottery only once would be enough already.
So the questions is: What do you see in the people around you? What are the possibilities in their lives? What do you think is impossible? Are you looking at what they are today or what they could be in the future?
What if the snotty teenager from next door will later be a school principal or the next president? And the bitchy student from your class the next chancellor? What if you could see future ministers, firemen, leaders or world changers in the people around you? How would that affect your thinking, talking and acting towards them?
I’m curious. Tell me what you think!