Bobby’s Predicament and The Fire Within

It was 4 PM on Monday. Bobby had a tough time concentrating on his work. He was a sales professional struggling to meet his quota for two consecutive quarters. In sheer desperation, he had sought the help of a sales mentor to help him get out of the rut. He was now thinking about the strange assignment that his mentor had given him, with the condition that, without completing the assignment, the next step in the mentoring process cannot continue.

The assignment was about bartering an inexpensive pen for something of greater value with a person you do not know. It didn’t end there. The thing of greater value had to be bartered for something else of a greater value, with a person you do not know. And, this had to be repeated three times.

Bobby decided to leave his office early. He walked to the stationery shop situated near his office and bought a couple of pens that cost him INR 5 each. “That was the easiest part!” he thought to himself, as he sat in his Uber on his way home. He felt the resistance building in him at the thought of approaching total strangers for the bartering assignment given by his mentor. It felt awkward, and his “lizard brain”, the amygdala, was telling him to back off, and not make a fool of himself.

The taxi had now slowed down considerably due to a terrible traffic snarl, and Bobby’s mind took him back in time when he started his career selling computer software. He recollected how he had cold called customers without apprehension, was thrown out of a prospect’s office within the first week of his sales career, and yet, within 90 days, he had closed two deals. He was thinking deliberately now, and his mind egged him on with questions…“How did I do it then?” “Why am I feeling a strong resistance now, after years of experience selling computer software?”

His thought was interrupted by a couple of knocks on his taxi’s window. The taxi was not moving, as the vehicles ahead had stopped due to an accident.

A street hawker was standing beside his window and was trying to sell some very cheap pens to him. And then, it hit him! “What a coincidence, he thought.” “The street hawker was selling pens so that he can provide some food for himself, and maybe, his family. When I had started my career, I had to start earning for myself. There was fire in my belly!”  Bobby was shaken, and had his answer to bartering the pen assignment.

What is your fire?