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This post has been bubbling on my back burner for a while and Valentine’s Day seemed like an appropriate time to serve it up. It’s dedicated to everyone who has made me feel worthy of love - from the lady at the dry cleaners who always remembers my name even though I NEVER pronounce hers correctly to my clients and dearest friends, many of whom are one and the same people. I am grateful for the”perfect” version of myself you reflect back to me.

I’m no expert on love. Believe me, I am as frequently and as completely baffled as any of you.

I love to read ABOUT love - from Rumi to Edna St. Vincent Millay, I’ve read the poets’ interpretations of love. But I’d never really thought about how it related to business until I crafted a keynote for Yellow-Tie International’s Build Your Own Brand event with Bob Burg and Scott Ginsberg. One of the questions I posed in that presentation was “what brings people back for more of YOU?”

Not more of your services or products but more of YOU.

Without exception, the answer lies in how you made them feel about themselves, not in how you made them feel about you. Did you make them feel smart, appreciated, beautiful, welcome, validated? In short, did you make them love themselves a little more than they did before they engaged with you?

Do you help people fall in love with themselves?

Because anyone who loves themselves even a little more because of spending time with you, doing business with you, having a conversation with you - that person is your fan for life. They will always love you because you helped them love themselves.

How in the world do you get someone else to love themselves more? Reflect to them the things you see in them that are worthy of love. When they feel genuinely appreciated, welcomed, respected or admired they feel like the little tomcat in the picture seeing the mighty lion in the mirror, they love what is reflected back to them.

What do people see when they look at you? Do they see only you, or do they see themselves reflected in your eyes?
How do you begin reflecting love? First, you have to be focused on them. What authors Bob Burg and John David Mann in The Go-Giver and the follow up book Go-Givers Sell More call “other-focused.” You can’t reflect anything back to someone else if you are only focused on yourself, your services, or your products. Second, it has to be genuine. Empty flattery might get you somewhere, but it won’t get you a friend or a client for life. That’s right, you have to focus on the other person and find them worthy of love.

Robert Merton, who is credited with coining the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy” said “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves.”

Love that does not begin with allowing others to be perfectly themselves is conditional love at best. No one wants to be loved under those conditions - that kind of love is a barter agreement that says “so long as you are/do/say THIS then I will love you.” That won’t bring clients back for more of you. (It doesn’t do much for personal relationships either but that is NOT my area of expertise - see the opening sentence.)

Only by allowing and reflecting the other’s “personal perfection” can we help them to love themselves a little more. Only by treating them as the “complete and without defect or blemish” individuals that they truly are can we show them the “lion in the mirror.”

I have a number of people I turn to when I need to be reminded of the powerful lioness hidden in my kitty cat soul. Some are friends, some are people with whom I do business, many are both. They know I have my faults, but they remind me that every one of my faults is also a strength and that I am, in fact, perfectly myself.

I have a couple of stories I want to share about loving our faults but I think that will have to wait for the next post.
For today (or any day) go reflect love back to the special people in your life. Whether they are your clients, your friends, your family or your special someone, show them how much you appreciate, respect, admire and welcome them just for being who they are.

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