{Users, Passer-Throughs, Difference-Makers…} Lessons from Camping

Fall is in the air.  The leaves are changing colors, the air is crisp, and it’s nearly dark at 5:30pm.  The change in weather from such a scorching summer has been welcomed with open arms across the nation.  That camping trip looks a lot more inviting now that you can make S’mores, right?

Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this…

The CEO of my company is quite the outdoorsman.  If it involves nature or going outside, he’s in.  And believe it or not, there’s a lot that can be learned from someone who spends an abundance of time with Mother Nature.  During our last team meeting, he told us all a story about three different types of people as it relates to camping and life in general.

Here’s the scenario:  In many of our country’s state and national parks, there are hideaway cabins tucked away off the beaten path, available to those that pass by for a small fee or no money at all.  Some of these cabins are remote – you have to really get into the woods to find them.  The provisions are simple: there’s a roof, four walls, and a door.  No internet, satellite TV, or telephone.  Shelter is provided – that’s it.  If it’s raining or cold, you’ll be glad to come across a cabin like this!  At the campsite, there is usually a pile of wood that could be used start a fire to keep warm overnight.

I’m getting closer…

There are three different types of people who come through these campsites each year:

The Users.  These people stay the night, use the firewood, have a nice party, and leave their trash behind as they move on to their next checkpoint.  Users are only worried about themselves.  In the job search and generally in life, Users are those that don’t listen because they are already thinking of what they’re going to say.  They’re also the type of person that, when networking, take a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) approach.

The Passer-Throughs.  These people pass through, use the resources available, restock and clean up for the next visitor.  Nothing more.  Passer-Throughs make sure that they’re replenishing what they use, but don’t realize that the next person might need more.  They’re not as bad as the Users, though.  In the job search and in your career, these people are the ones that do only what is on the job description.  “It’s not my job” is a phrase you might be familiar with.  Passer-Throughs don’t think they need to any more than the base level of expectations.

The Difference-Makers.  They stop for the night and use the available resources.  But they go a step further than the Users and Passer-Throughs.  Not only do they replenish the woodpile, they cut extra wood, thinking that it might be helpful to someone else on one of the colder nights.  They also leave the site better than they found it.  They pick up the trash left from the Users.  But, I’m not done.  Difference-Makers also take a look around and see what they can do to make things better.  They fix the window seal that let in the cold air.  They repair the screen door so that mosquitos don’t eat future campers alive.  Difference-Makers do just that – they make a difference.  Then, they move on.  In the job search, Difference-Makers offer to help others first.  Their success and yours is linked.  Difference-Makers are also proactive – they don’t wait for the perfect job to land in their lap.  They go get it and they’re able to do that because of the relationships they’ve built.

We all know people who fit into each category.  But, the question I have for you is, “What person will you be?”  Will you be a User, Passer-Through, or will you be a Difference-Maker?  The choice is yours.

Pay it forward as much as you can and remember the simple lessons of life.   Now, go out and make this the best week ever.  You can do it!!

Special thanks to Alvin for the inspiration to write this and for challenging us all to do more to help our fellow man.  The entire team was invited to his beautiful home last weekend for a great get-together that included a bonfire, weenie roast, and yes, S’mores.  I had a blast!


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