The Prophet Motive

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Greetings.  Recently I was asked if I would be willing to visit the fifth grade class at religious school to talk with students about the “job” of being a prophet.  Maybe it was my graying beard that earned me this assignment, or maybe it was the fact that other would-be prophets were unavailable.  Whatever the case, yesterday was the big day–a chance to learn about a remarkable group of characters who have existed in many of the world’s great religions and then share a bit of that learning with ten- and eleven-year-olds who would probably prefer to spend their Sunday mornings doing something else.  Not that prophets aren’t cool, though I sensed that it might be wise to make my visit a bit more contemporary.

By way of background, prophets are folks with slightly more access to God than the rest of us.  Or, as kids might say, they actually have God’s cell phone number and personal email address.  And this special relationship enables them to serve as intermediaries between humans and God in order to provide direct guidance on the right and wrong ways to live.  They also have a real knack for using stories or metaphors as a way to get their points across.  The challenge, of course, is that most people either don’t want to listen to God–or want to listen but find it difficult to get with the program.  And they often find a convenient reason to miss or “mix” the metaphors.  So there I was, determined to be true to the thinking of my 2,700-year-old character while also make his lessons contemporary and hopefully a bit clever and engaging.  To do this I brought my iPod which I renamed an “iGod,” and noted that I spent a lot of time texting God for insight and answers to people’s questions.  I even suggested that the very moment I pushed the send button for my message a response appeared.  How’s that for customer service?  And we ended up having a very interesting discussion of what it meant to live a kinder and humbler life, and how people could play a bigger role in making the world a better place. Though I must admit that most of the students were more interested in my flowing robe, long (and fake) beard, and staff, than in any guidance about the importance of being kind to their parents, siblings, teachers, or strangers.

But how does this connect to business?  Could I possibly find an important lesson in studying prophets and reenacting a bit of religious history?  Well, if you’ve read this blog regularly or even sporadically you know that I find ideas and inspiration in all walks of life.  So I started thinking about the value of prophets in all of our companies and organizations being–i.e., folks who have a special relationship with our customers.  The ones who act as essential intermediaries by giving voice to the customer’s needs, hopes, and aspirations.  And who understands that this “prophet” motive could really help us to improve our bottom-line performance.

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We win in business when we make sure our people understand the will of the customer.  And when we use stories to convey a picture of the way the world could be when we unlock our real genius and sense of innovation.

Cheers!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Gregerman
Alan Gregerman is an award-winning author, consultant and keynote speaker who has been called "one of the most original thinkers in business today" and "the Robin Williams of business consulting." His work focuses on helping companies and organizations to unlock the genius in all of their people in order to deliver the most compelling value to their customers.

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