He was here to have his leg cut off.
I was visiting Minneapolis to watch a nephew play hockey. Between games, my kids would hit the pool or the mall, and I’d wander down the hall to the secret lounge on the fourth floor to work.
The only other guests in sight were an older man and his wife. They visited the lounge most afternoons. He relied on a walker to keep him upright; she filled his plate with snacks as he chose them, and then they made slow progress back to their room.
In the emptiness of the lounge, it would have been awkward not to say hello, so we made a bit of small talk. He was visiting Minneapolis with two legs but would be leaving on one. Long-term diabetes was claiming a quarter of his person. Sad but ultimately none of my business: He selected his daily Pepsi and chips, and his wife dutifully carried the paper plate back to his hotel room.
As a lifelong fitness coach, I wondered: Did they know the soda was the culprit behind the diabetes? Had they just given up? Did they believe his condition was unavoidable, irreversible? Or were they willfully ignoring his doctors even at the gravest of consequences?
These were probably caring people, maybe someone’s grandparents. But as an introverted, live-and-let-live guy, I didn’t want to speak up. I worried about insulting their intelligence or embarrassing them. They were clearly at a low point; did they need me to highlight their obvious despair? Would their embarrassment make me embarrassed? Would we spend the rest of the week avoiding each other?
Would they get angry with me? Would I make the situation worse?
Finally, on Monday, I saw them for the fourth time. It was our last day of the tournament. My nephew’s team would leave that night. I’d never see the older couple again. My internal debate had reached a crescendo: I was thinking about the old man’s leg instead of paying attention to the hockey games.
I watched them select a small bag of nuts and candy and the usual Pepsi.
I thought—for the thousandth time—about talking to them about sugar and high fructose corn syrup and diabetes. But—for the thousandth time—I did nothing.
Then a voice entered my head:
“Chris, do you care enough about this human to overcome your own bullshit?”
Just like that.
“Is this person more important than your own social doubt, your shyness and your second guessing?”
I walked up and looked them each in the eye.
I said, “You seem like lovely people. I might be able to help you.”
I asked questions. They answered. I didn’t lecture, but they listened. They thanked me because my care was obvious.
And that’s the moment when I became a great at selling my service.
Being great at sales isn’t about having the perfect script. It isn’t about fooling people. It’s about caring enough about another human to start a conversation.
This weekend, start a conversation with a stranger. Tell them about health and fitness.
Email me when you’re done.
We help our clients by sharing our knowledge. But we change our world by sharing our care.