I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “Good Samaritan,” but do you know the story behind it? Of course, this is one of the famous lessons of the Bible. Further, what does this story have to do with business relations and particularly in my business, government relations?
A man was making a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho – a road that was known to be dangerous and rough – when he was robbed and beaten. Several folks passed by him without helping, perhaps looking after their own safety or concerns. One of the individuals that passed without helping was a Jewish priest. Finally, a man (now known as the Good Samaritan) stopped to help the victim. The Good Samaritan not only cleaned his wounds, but took him to the Inn and paid for his stay and care. He even checked up on him after a few days.
In the lobbying world I’ve heard it said hundreds of times, “I’ll I’ve got in this business is my reputation.” This is typically a reaction to when conflict with an issue, another lobbyist, or even a lawmaker arises. It usually is invoked when a lobbyist is confronted with a situation of having to cross that line of doing something uncomfortable like opposing leadership or having to reverse course on what one previously said he or she was going to do. It happens to all of us. And it doesn’t just happen in the lobbying world.
At Three Point Strategies we are purposeful with our relationships. These are the “Good Samaritan” principles by which we attempt to abide while lobbying:
- See the human behind the politician or businessman. We don’t know much about the person who was robbed and beaten on his journey to Jericho. Many folks passed him by – maybe they thought he deserved what he got? But the Good Samaritan saw him for who he was – a human, a person just like him. I strive to always look past the position (politician or businessman). We may be on opposite sides of an issue but that should not prevent me from building a relationship with a lawmaker. In fact, there is one particular lawmaker that verbally opposes much of the legislation I support. This year though I was able to point out to him that he voted for three pieces of legislation on which I was actively working. It has now become a running joke between us.
- Sacrifice and work. The Good Samaritan went out of his way to transport the injured man to the Inn, cared for him, and saw him through his recovery. Stewarding relationships is a sacrifice. It will require you to give of yourself – time, resources, etc. You must work hard to build meaningful relationships.
- Be unpopular, or different. Even a priest, a community leader, passed the man in need without helping. One could argue that the example was set – it wasn’t the popular thing to do to help this man. But the Good Samaritan did not bother himself with what was popular or mainstream. Instead, he did what was right. Many times in business, especially when it comes to relationships, doing what is right is actually what sets you apart from others – good or bad.
- Never do it with the expectation that you’ll get something in return. I have had bills where I’ve worked hard to earn the support from certain lawmakers. In the end some do not vote the way we had discussed. Of course this hurts. It’s like making a sales pitch over a long period of time only to have the prospect turn you down. Building relationships isn’t about short-term return. We spend time stewarding relationships for long-term results. The Good Samaritan didn’t get paid for what he did – he didn’t get an award or recognition. But his actions caused social change and set an example to follow. Relationships are complicated. Building them with the premise that you’ll realize quick results will only leave you disappointed and your clients wondering where your value truly is.
Every lobbyist has some sort of connection with lawmakers or they wouldn’t be involved with government affairs. We are no different at Three Point Strategies. Although we aren’t perfect, we strive to be different in our approach to lobbying and how we steward those relationships. This is part of the value we bring our clients. But to me it’s the value I bring to myself and my family as well.
If you read the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:25-37 the passage begins with the recital of the greatest commandment: 1) to love God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and, 2) to love your neighbor as yourself. The Good Samaritan parable is the explanation for who your neighbor is and how you should show love to him.
Love isn’t a feeling – it’s a choice, it’s an action. Several people walked passed the man in need and didn’t feel anything for him. But the Good Samaritan, whether he felt for the man or not, chose to act.
I will always strive to act and sometimes I fail. My reputation may be the only thing I have in business, but in reality I have so much more.
Stewarding relationships goes beyond personal gain – it’s about the impact we have on each other as we move through life.