Have you ever heard this phrase before? “The new broom sweeps clean.”
Granted, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I will never forget those words for as long as I live. Let me tell you why.
When I was about three months deep into my career as an automotive sales professional, age twenty or so, I had my first great month. I’d spent that beginning period training, shadowing, and developing my own talent, and while I’d had some success, it was nothing compared to this third month, when I really found my footing.
I’d sold 16 cars over the month, and the month wasn’t out yet – and believe you me, when I saw my paycheck, it was more money than I’d ever held in my life.
As you might be able to imagine, being twenty or so, being ecstatic at being able to let my abilities shine and have the tangible fruits of my labour right there in front of me – well, let’s just say it got to my head a little. I was strutting just a little, feeling great, when all of a sudden one of the other sales representatives walked up to me.
This gentleman was about 60 years old, had been in the industry for longer than I’d been alive, and was averaging about six cars a month.
He pulled me to the side, stuck his finger in my face, and said:
“New broom sweeps clean.”
The full expression here is “New brooms sweep clean, but old ones know the corners” – and boy, if that idiom doesn’t indicate just how old this guy was, nothing will. But essentially, he was saying that I was working on beginner’s luck, implying that I was getting extra accomodation for being new and young, but that I’d fall back behind because he – the old broom – knew the business in ways I never could.
Well, I’m not entirely proud of how I handled that comment – it included some choice words that my car people have heard a time or two in a sales meeting – but thankfully my manager and mentor at the time stepped in and took me aside.
He let me pace around and cool off for a few minutes before he dropped one simple, invaluable gem: “People love successful people who are humble.”
I looked at him a little askance, but I realized that he was right. While I could be stoked with my success, thrilled with being able to utilize my talent, I couldn’t think of a single person I admired that did anything close to strut. They were all much too busy trying to better themselves to worry about being better than anyone else.
That one simple sentence dramatically changed my perspective, and my hope is that if there are any of you out there are in that same first flush of success that I was in that moment, that this blog will help you avoid a sticky situation – much like my mentor helped me.
As another example, think about your favourite athlete. Let’s talk about Leonard, from my very own hometown Toronto Raptors. Even as he was carrying so much of the weight, even as every basket he made got the team closer to a historic, once in a lifetime victory, you never saw that guy run screaming in circles when he scored. He put his head down and did what needed doing, and you can take it to the bank that every one of the millions and millions of people watching his every move over those months liked him better for it.
Put your head down, and run the bases. The more time you spend trying to show off, running backwards to blow kisses to the crowd, the more likely you are to trip.
Stay humble, folks. You’ll thank yourself for it, and so will the people around you, and in the words of the great Dwayne Johnson: “Stay humble, stay hungry, and always be the hardest working person in the room.”
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