In The Name of [G]love

I love to play fantasy football.

Really all fantasy sports: Football, baseball, basketball, even hockey. With all major sports currently coinciding due to COVID-19, no question it’s been a busy month on the hobby-front. Yet, of all the ups and downs (mostly ups), perhaps my favorite moment came last week for one of my baseball teams.

Here’s the stage: After starting the season 7-12-1, my team goes on a heater finishing up the regular season with a league-best 30-16-4 to finish at 37-28-5. Heading into the last week of the regular season, my team’s playoff probability was <5% as I needed two teams ahead of me to go 3-6-1 or worse while I had to go 8-1-1 or better just to qualify for a tiebreaker. Well wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what I happened: My team goes 8-1-1, the other teams go 3-6-1, and against all odds, all three teams finish tied at 37-28-5.

Now, for most leagues, tiebreakers are decided by head-to-head matchups during the regular season; to me, this makes sense given the practice considers past performance and is adopted by most major league sports. However, for this league, the Commissioner had set it up in a unique way: Rather than award head-to-head record, the team who finished the final week with the best record would win the tiebreaker and the seeding advantage. A moot point in most circumstances, but a critical one in this case since the tiebreaker decided the last playoff berth.

All things considered, you can image my elation to have clinched a playoff berth having been left for dead at 7.5 games back with two weeks ago.

There was only one problem: I forgot to pay my league entry fee.

This probably deserves an unwind. For custom leagues, a payment deadline is generally enforced by the fantasy network provider. If even one of the managers forgets to pay on time, the league is stripped of its cash status and becomes a free league with no payout.

Initially, I had paid on time; however, that was before another manager missed the deadline costing our league its cash league status. After receiving a refund, I carried about my business assuming this league would be re-classified with no cash prizes. But as I learned following my playoff berth, the managers had decided to handle payments ‘off-grid’ six weeks prior, a memo I missed based on my fantasy app’s messaging settings. Why no one contacted me is beyond me. Perhaps they thought my team was weak and wasn’t a threat. Whatever the reason, my team overachieving into the playoffs was suddenly a legit problem for the managers who had paid and lost the tiebreaker.

As I continued discerning the dilemma, the choice became clear: I needed to own my mistake (even though I knew it wasn’t the only mistake in this situation) and inquire next steps in our next live chat. So that’s what I did. At soonest convenience, I logged in, acknowledged the error, and told the managers I’d happily pay the fee after-the-fact. Unfortunately, this pitch (pun intended) was not unanimously received given the cheap convenience involved. As one manager said, of course I would pay now; after all, I had new skin in the game.

But that’s when I made an easy call: Instead of defending my position, I surrendered my playoff spot to the runner-up manager.

Upon announcing this, the live chat blew up. Apparently, the other managers were prepping for a vote on whether or not I should remain qualified as a playoff team. For some managers, they understood the loop holes involved; for others, they were more concerned about league rules being followed to the bitter end. Yet, once I laid down my team, the other managers were floored. They couldn’t believe after all my hard work, I’d just casually offer my playoff bid to another manager. In response, I explained how it didn’t make sense for me to win a cash prize in a league I didn’t pay an entry fee for. Granted, it would have been nice if someone said something so I could have paid a second time…on time. Alas, that’s not what happened.

What did happen is while I lost a chance to earn $120, I won souls in how I handled the disappointment. For as the chat session continued, the encouraging comments poured in – most applauding my integrity, some even asking me if I would return to the league again. At first, I was like, ‘Calm down. It’s not that big a deal’, but upon second thought, I saw where they were coming from.

‘Cause truth is: Integrity isn’t only realized when a decision is hard, but also when a decision is obvious. Applying Proverbs 11:30 (ESV), while a challenging circumstance can impact integrity, or lack thereof, ultimately how it’s handled is what wins soul. For instance, a basic ethical response can diffuse conflict when it advances corporate virtue ahead of an individual goal. Additionally, it can inspire others to do likewise when selflessly expressed in sincerity. Put another way…

…doing the right thing doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s not contingent on the extraordinary but is often maximized in the ordinary.

Sometimes, we undermine the value of humility when its exercise is plain. Even when there’s a cost, when the path to goodness is clear-cut, we can shrug it off as we walk it in fear of being self-centered.

But that’s why I’m sharing this story – to remind us to embrace the power of practical integrity and cherish the simple ways character can influence. Who knows? By buying that meal, being transparent, or extending grace, you may just win an opportunity to lead someone to Jesus because you were willing to be like him in the first place.

Selah.

Photo creds: ArtsyCanvas.com

Let It Count: A Word for Client Care Specialists

Shared at the Foundation Group Sales Meeting on 9/9/20

We give our all.
We’re one for all.
But that doesn’t mean we win them all.

For us, it’s a unique reality – a cost of being on the frontlines where we secure commitments, verbal and financial, with intentionality and integrity.

It’s a badge of honor, an appointed duty to which we empty ourselves to pour into a wide array of leads and potentials.

Still, it’s hard when you can sense the beginning of the end with a client. As we can attest, ‘There will be more clients’ isn’t always enough to mitigate disappointment in the moment. In the heat of a ‘closed-won turned loss’, it’s human nature to seek a scapegoat or accept false ownership when we can’t figure out what went wrong.

To be honest, I do this more than I care to admit since I think the emotional component will preserve any lessons learned. But I’m happy to say I’m not going to play that hand anymore. Because at the end of the day, I’d rather have a heart won than a closed won.

Again, the scope of this topic is central to Sales. Sometimes, people will say ‘No, this isn’t a good fit’ upfront and we carry on; however, for the CSM’s (Client Success Manager), the tune can iterate to some form of, ‘Just kidding; I’m a ‘no’ after all’. In those cases, the emotional sting often finds itself between whiplash and good riddance. So says the devil on my shoulder anyway. But says the angel…

How your journey with clients from intake to specialist…from first to last call..it may feel like an awkward audition…you may think you’re the spark behind their doubt…but what matters is treasuring them for the treasure they are and valuing them for the value they’re sowing.

For all of us, this is where our character can shine through. For we know, as the gatekeepers, as the alpha and omega of the client experience: Love loves on the way in and love loves on the way out. By proxy, we can be assured that how we outboard is just as significant as how we onboard. Regardless of service cost, the last taste of Foundation Group we give clients is priceless and worth discussion given that’s the bite they remember most. Accordingly, let’s not discount the client’s personhood by the way they exit stage-left; rather let your servanthood and stewardship be the legacy they take with them. Even if we have to lose the initial transaction, we can take pride knowing we abided within an eternal transaction. Let that count for something.

Bottom line: How you rebound whether or not it’s your fault is near the core of who we are as people and what makes this team worth teaming with. When we lose a client, remember there’s unity in community when things go south. Don’t shrug frustration off at the cost of downplaying the pleasure it was to serve them. Instead, take heart and know more often than not, even the most irritating clients recognize gratitude even when it’s not reciprocated on their end. Again, let that count for something.

Selah.

Photo creds: sleeklens.com