In the late 90s, I was introduced to the single most important aspect of successful influence.
The lesson was passionately expressed by an aging salesman in the film “Jerry MaGuire.”
“If this is empty, this doesn’t matter.”
He made his point while emphatically pointing first to his heart, and then to his head.
I was quite moved by that flashback scene.
And I was sure I knew exactly what he meant.
But I didn’t.
At the time, I was working at a company that developed and sold medical devices.
My job was to get busy healthcare providers to recommend our products to their suffering patients.
Since I was dealing with “caring” people, I naturally chose to appeal to their hearts.
I invested heavily in emotional communication that tapped into their innate desire to help others.
And it failed miserably.
But I learned something important about the heart-head equation.
An insight that helped inform my future success.
Heart is not about emotional messaging.
Heart is about empathy.
It’s surprisingly easy to confuse the two.
It took me awhile, but I was eventually able to feel our audience’s deepest desires.
And visualize their motivating picture.
And once I did, the response was emotion.
But not joy or laughter.
Rather it was the feeling of being uniquely understood.
There’s nothing more difficult in business, or in life, than empathy.
To look at our lives through other people’s lives.
And nothing more important when creating belief.