In the late 1800’s there was a traveling book salesman and philosopher named McAfee. One hot summer he was trying to sell books and give talks in western North Carolina. McAfee happened upon a little 100-acre farm where he met Joseph, a farmer. This farmer was one of 14 kids, and he eventually had 13 children himself! Joseph purchased two books penned by “famous” ancient philosophers. He already was more literate than anyone around, and now he became an avid reader. He loved those books and those philosophers. He loved them so much he named his next two sons after them – one named son Cicero and another Virgil.

Cicero ended up loving reading even more than his father. He also was the only one of the 13 children to get a college education. He was often called “lazy” because he read so much. First, he became a dentist, then went back to school to become a medical doctor. Cicero went by his middle name, McAfee, named in honor of the salesman who sold his father the books. Cicero’s 11 children became School District Superintendents, Colonels, Doctors, Dentists, and Lawyers.

Think about the power of books…

Think about the power of reading…

Think about the power of sales…

Think about the power of someone doing their job…

I am thankful my great-great-grandfather listened to a traveling salesman that day. I am proud to be in sales today.

Power Stories

For most people, their identity includes the work they do, their professional life.

Our identity is tied to our own personal definitions of our experiences. The meaning we apply to every situation is the meaning we believe. Often we ask ourselves: What does it mean to earn a living today? Is what I do important? Does it matter? With the way the world economy is changing, what is my professional identity?

Our story is important.

Our stories create our identity. We chose what stories we tell, what stories we hold as truth. While each person and every family has “bad stories”, we can learn from them the bad as we search for the good.

Additionally, we don’t have to attach ourselves to the negative stories. We don’t have live our life on repeat, we can change, we can break the cycle.

Our power to choose what we tell ourselves is what allows us to change our reality.

Helping Stories

The best stories are used to help us help others. These are stories that connect emotionally and help inspire real action. Stories that we use can be ones we tell ourselves or stories we tell to others. They can be real, or they can be fake. Fairy tales are fake and yet they are extremely powerful.

When we tell ourselves a story over and over again, we begin to believe it. If that belief can inspire action, then we make an impact. The stories we tell are always changing. We are always a work in progress. ( #WorkInProgress )

Worthy Intent

Pure motive drives real relationships.

When our driving force is aligned with our personal values, we can begin to create the identity we desire.

Integrity is founded upon transparency. Hiding intent for gain is what terrible leaders do. The best leaders live true by sharing direction, purpose, and action.

When OUR focus is to help others perform better, our own PERFORMANCE will dramatically improve.

Intent matters.

We find our intent as we live our daily lives. The actions we take become the stories we tell.

The stories we believe are the foundation of our character and intent.

Choose your story. Choose to improve your story.

Putting It to Good Use

Back in North Carolina, while chopping wood at about age 70, Joseph had a severe accident. His son Cicero, the doctor was able to perform surgery on his father. He amputated the hand and stopped the bleeding, and saved his father’s life.

Joseph lived another 15 years. His love for learning was given to his children. Cicero’s education was put to good use.

What we learn is only as important as what we do with our knowledge. If we learn and never share, did we really learn? If we study and never teach, are we valuable? Every person has goodness to share and experience to help coach others.

Secret Formula (Not so secret…)

We all need to earn a living. Our identity is tied to the stories we tell about what we do.

The formula for being proud of what you do is very simple:


The more we help others, the more fulfilled we feel.

That’s it. That is all that is needed. You can do it daily. Find a way to think about how your work helps others. Then work exceptionally smart and hard to do your job even better. Helping others will always make you proud. And if done right, you can be proud and humble at the same time.

An identity forged in the furnace of service is one we all can be proud to claim.

The BEST help others. You CAN and SHOULD help others. You are IMPORTANT and VALUABLE.

Find your stories, tell your stories. Help others by learning and sharing. Be proud of what you do. Your identity is 100% YOURS for the making. We are all in creation and formation mode. We are all a work In progress.

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**article originally published here.