I decided to write a poem and adapt it into a short Italian aria.
(Which yes I will sing to you at the end of this post)
The music comes from another aria about lost love.
Because lost love has taught me a lot about sitting in tension.
The Art of Sitting In Tension
About 4 years ago I met a girl at an entrepreneurship summer camp. She was pretty, smart, and funny. We became friends and over the course of a few months, I developed feelings for her. She liked me but she wasn’t sure about long-distance (I lived in Portland, she lived in NYC).
Two days after our first date (outside of LA) I bought an overnight plane ticket to New York and showed up on her doorstep with roses. I told her I was moving to the city and asked her if she’d go out with me.
I remember the whole plane ride I sat in the tension of what she might say when I arrived.
About 8 months after that I asked her to marry me. I hadn’t planned on asking her. I mean the thought had crossed my mind, but I was going to wait for a few more months. And then I just decided. I dug through a box, pulled out my grandmother’s ring, and proposed.
It’s funny, most proposals don’t have much tension. Most people know the answer, but this felt different. I remember sitting in that tension as she looked at the ring and me.
Over the next two years, things shifted. Slowly at first, though if I’m honest the cracks were always there. We started fighting more, it became harder to communicate, she revealed she was more ambivalent about having kids than I had originally thought.
We had good moments, but it was hard. Probably harder than a 2-year-old relationship should be. But I was committed. I had proposed, I had chosen her, even when things were hard, I didn’t want to give up.
The Beginning of The End
One day during a couples coaching session, it hit me. She was hurting. I was too. I gave it some thought and wrote her a letter suggesting we find a way to end things. It took me two weeks but I finally read it to her. She took a couple of weeks and finally said she agreed.
We took 3 months to say goodbye. We divided our stuff. We did a small ceremony in our empty living room. And then it was over.
The tension that got created when I gave her that ring, finally released.
What this has to do with Sales
When I teach coaches about sales, I talk about the power of a proposal. The possibility it holds.
Inside this vision of the future you create with someone is a tension with the way things are now, a tension created from the resistance that we have to overcome.
This tension is a powerful force that creates both fear and clarity.
If you’re not grounded and honest, fear can easily take over.
Some salespeople use this fear to push people across the line.
Scarcity, pain point selling, hard closing tactics.
But if you slow down, this tension reveals everything.
It reveals the things that matter to you.
- Things like wanting to have kids.
- Things like a fear that things can’t change even if you try.
- Things like how you have different visions of the future.
- Things like a doubt that you will actually rise to the occasion when it finally arrives.
If you can sit with someone in that tension, you can sit with them in the very fire of change.
The important thing to remember is that any exit is a good one so long as you choose it powerfully.
You could say I failed to get married.
You could say our relationship failed.
But in some ways, our proposal, the tension, did exactly what it was meant to do.
We saw how we were no longer able to see the good in one another.
When our plan shifted, other things shifted too. At least for me, I found it much easier to love her and see her beauty when I took a future together off the table.
She was and is an incredible person. She’s just not my person. And I’m not hers.
The tension revealed that.
This is what is possible with sales. At its best, you see the best in me:
- The insight, skill, and talent I can bring to the table as a coach.
- The features and benefits of your signature product.
- The talent and experience you have as an employee
And I see the best in you:
- The commitment, openness, and passion you bring to the table as a client.
- The drive you have for serving your customers and solving your toughest problems.
- The culture and vision you have as an organization.
If it’s a fit, if we can defeat fear and create an incredible relationship. We create a commitment that becomes the foundation for change.
If it’s not a fit for either one of us for whatever reason, we say no and we walk away.
Ideally, we do this from an empowered kind of place.
Not an apology. But a choice.
If we can do that together, the tension serves its purpose.
It clarified and helped us to see what’s important.
But no matter the answer we have to sit.
- We have to propose.
- We have to choose to see the best in one another.
- We have to have the courage to say yes. (hard)
- We have to have the courage to say no. (even harder)
This is why I love sales.
It’s also why I still believe in wild, crazy, passionate, romantic love.
I am probably a sucker, but I have slowly learned that I don’t sell myself in love.
What I sell is a vision of the future.
And the vision I’ve got is one of adventure, play, romance, passion, and the beautiful simplicity of life.
I think I’ll find a buyer.
And until then, I’ll sit in this lovely tension.
The same tension I invite every person I coach.
To sit inside.
And here is the aria –
And here’s is the poem it’s based on –
To see the good in someone. Simply for being themselves Is a sacred gift To sit in the tension of commitment Is an act of courage and love Easy with an open heart Impossible in thought and comparison
Riconoscere il buono nelle altre persone. Solo per ciò che sono È un sacro dono Sostenere la tensione del fervore È un atto di coraggio e amore Se hai un cuore aperto è facile Se ti perdi in pensieri e confronti è impossibile