The Kind Truth — Arnold Palmer and Fred Rogers

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“You can’t help but draw a larger message about Arnie (Arnold Palmer) and Fred (Fred Rogers) in the turbulent times we live in.  Two men from the same place, different as could be, found a common answer to today’s problems in the way they consistently treated people with kindness.”

–     Jerry Tarde, Editor-in-Chief, Golf Digest in his February “Last Shot” column on The King and our favorite “neighbor”

If we’re in the business of selling — and since we’re in business, we are — there is an extraordinary lesson to be learned from the way Fred Rogers and Arnold Palmer carried themselves, but it’s not just about their manner.  It’s about their way.

“Ok, Heston, you’re doing it again,” you’re saying.  “Don’t pick nits.  Don’t slice and dice the English language.”

I’m not.  Our manner is how we act.  Our way is who we are.  Simply by the way they lived, Arnie and Fred built enduring relationship equity with two or three generations, the huge majority of whom they never met in person.

I was fortunate to have “met” Arnold once, at one of his signature golf courses.  He greeted our group as he was walking to his car, going out of his way to shake our hands, look us in the eye, thank us and tell us “he hoped we liked the course.”  I was lucky that our ol’ aluminum antennae on the farm could get Iowa Public TV, so that as a kid, I rarely missed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

By the way.  They were both tough, fair-minded men.  Neither of them ever ducked a question.  Arnold replied to every letter he received, even the small percentage that was critical or otherwise not just “fan mail.” Until he was too ill to go to his Bay Hill Club, Arnold was there every day, quick to remind everyone who entered that he was “glad to see them,” and to “kindly remove your hat,” if they forgot.

Fred wasn’t a glad-hander or platitude plasterer — he spoke the truth, kindly, even when he disagreed.  His testimony defending public TV before Congress in 1969 has gone viral multiple times in the 41 years since.  He spoke the truth, firmly and kindly.

As a professional sales leader, I’ve long appreciated Lencioni’s concept of telling “the kind truth.”

There’s no better way to build relationship equity within your “army” and to hit the pillow every night knowing you made a difference in your neighborhood.

(Editor’s Note:  “Maxwell Friday” returns, either next week or, perhaps with a bonus edition of the DD this weekend…)

 


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