"Make me feel important."
I first heard this phrase back in 1989 from Zig Ziglar at a seminar in Houston. He was describing how we should imagine a sign on the chest of every person with whom we come in contact that says, “Make me feel important.” He went on to say that we should do this because, most importantly, it is the right thing to do, but also because by doing so you will win more business than you can handle.
Over the years, I have tried to take this concept to heart and do my best to apply it to my own martial arts business as well as my personal life. Overall, I thought I’d done okay with it until I received a clear reminder of how much better I can be at “making people feel important.”
It was noon and I had just finished teaching a staff class. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted him. It had been years, but I remembered him instantly. He and his brother used to train martial arts with me when they were kids. I raced out to the lobby to greet him and we had a wonderful reunion. We talked about old times, his family and finally, the amazing success his brother became. You see, after training with me, his brother went on to become an MMA world champion and one of the most recognized fighters in the sport.
After a nice chat, we said our goodbyes and he was on his way. I know he enjoyed our visit and went away feeling appreciated and maybe even “important” because I went out of my way to make him feel so.
Then it hit me, although I’d like to think I greet all former students the same way, the truth is I didn’t. Sure, I’m polite. I engaged them in conversation, but sometimes I’m not "over-the-top-it’s-so-great-to-see-you" friendly. Although I’m hesitant to admit it, the fact of the matter is that I was extra friendly and respectful to this fellow because his brother is famous. It didn’t hit me until later on that day, and when it did, I was a bit embarrassed with myself. It was a great reminder to me of how we should treat the people who cross our path every day.
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