My next book, The Influencer: Secrets to Success and Happiness, is with my editor and on track for release later this year! Below is another sneak peek for your enjoyment. In this chapter the protagonist, John Andrews, learns about the principle of unity in an unexpected way that helps it drop from his head to his heart.
In January John made a trip to New Mexico. Not nearly as populous as Arizona or Texas, he didn’t have many clients there but he was looking for prospects in Albuquerque. That’s where he met Al Harris, the lead physician in an unusual medical facility. Upon arriving at the newly furnished office John felt different than he did with other clients. He noticed a deep camaraderie among the employees. Everyone was friendly, not only with clients, but each other. It went beyond smiles and greetings, they seemed to genuinely enjoy helping each other. It was a family practice that seemed like it was run by an actual family.
After spending time touring the facility they moved to Al’s office. While he was in Al’s office John listened with his eyes and ears. What he noticed was unmistakable.
John took Al to lunch so they could relax and get to know one another. “Al, I do my best to pay close attention to people and the environments I’m in. Something stood out about your office,” John started out.
“Oh really,” Al replied after swallowing a bite of his salad. “What’s that?”
Setting down his fork, John went on, “There’s a closeness between your staff, almost like family. It’s unlike anything I’ve noticed in other physician’s practices. What do you attribute it to?”
Wiping his mouth with the cloth napkin, looking straight into John’s eyes, Al said, “John, I’m going to share something with you that I don’t tell most people unless I see a need for help or the curiosity you displayed. I’m a recovering alcoholic.”
John was taken back because he never would have imagined someone as outgoing, friendly, and successful as Al would struggle with alcohol. Apparently his face betrayed his thoughts because Al said, “You look surprised John.”
A little embarrassed, looking down rather than directly at Al, John confessed, “Al, you don’t fit the image I had of an alcoholic. I mean, recovering alcoholic.”
Al laughed and that put John at ease. “Don’t worry John, you’re not alone in that thought. We come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and walks of life. I’ve been sober for 30 years now.”
“Congratulations! But, what does all of this have to do with what I noticed in the office?” John inquired.
“Not only am I alcoholic,” Al said, “Nearly everyone who works for me is on the road to recovery.” He smiled as he shared that, proud that he was able to help people who are sometimes marginalized by employers.
That blew John away. Curious he went on, “I had no idea and never would have guessed. I don’t know anyone who is an alcoholic so I wonder; how can you trust someone who struggles with alcohol?”
“Usually when I invite someone in for an interview they feel unqualified to work in an office environment like ours. I tell them if they can beat the disease then anything we ask them to do will seem easy by comparison. They usually light up at that, as if they’re thinking, ‘I never thought of that but he might be right!’”
John asked an obvious question, “What do you do when someone relapses?”
Finishing his salad, Al said, “We love ‘em, support ‘em, and get them the help they need. If they get back on track, we take ‘em back. If they don’t, we let them know we’re still here to support them but we need people we can rely on because our patients count on us. We’ve only lost two people in 20 years.”
“That’s incredible Al. How does that tie into the family atmosphere I sensed?” John inquired as he sipped his iced tea.
“Family is as close as we can get. Helping family members is almost like helping ourselves because we share the same genes. The depth of the relationship between alcoholics isn’t genetic but it’s almost unparalleled. Perhaps only people who’ve served in the military share as close a bond. I think most alcoholics would agree with me when I say; helping another alcoholic is almost like helping myself and when they help me they’re also helping themselves. Does that make sense?” Al asked John.
“Completely,” John replied. “I think it goes to something I learned in college. There is a psychological principle called unity that describes it. That principle says it’s easier for people to say yes to those they see as one of them, part of the tribe, so to speak. I’ve always noticed the ‘band of brothers’ with the military but now I see it can apply to people and groups I never considered before.”
Al shared, “I know what we’re doing is good and it works so well because we’re all in the same boat. It can be tough on regular businesses to hire alcoholics just as it might be for some ex-military to assimilate into ordinary life. There’s a brotherhood in each case that helps.”
“Al, I appreciate your authenticity and trust to share all of this with me, especially since this is the first time we’ve met. I really look forward to learning more from you as we continue to get to know each other,” John said as he got ready to sign the credit card slip.
When he went back to the hotel he quickly wrote what he learned from Al. Unity was a concept John understood in his head but not in his heart…until that day with Al. He wrote, “Unity is about shared identity. People will be most likely to help others with whom they share an identity. It’s almost as if we is me and me is we.”
Brian Ahearn, CPCU, CMCT
Brian Ahearn is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An author, TEDx speaker, international trainer, coach, and consultant, he’s one of only a dozen people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini, Ph.D., the most cited living social psychologist on the science of ethical influence.
Brian’s first book, Influence PEOPLE: Powerful Everyday Opportunities to Persuade that are Lasting and Ethical, was named one of the 100 Best Influence Books of All Time by BookAuthority. His second book, Persuasive Selling for Relationship Driven Insurance Agents, was an Amazon new release bestseller in several categories.
Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses on persuasive selling and coaching have been viewed by more than 400,000 people around the world.