Anyone working in sales will know that a strong mind is key to success. As sure as night follows day, there will be times during your sales career when you hit the ‘dip’. Mine came in my early thirties when I was made redundant twice within two years. It just so happened that I’d taken on a big mortgage. The pressure mounted up and there were moments when I stared into the abyss. Can you relate to this? It could be a redundancy, a recession or even a divorce.
As Mike Tyson said ‘Plans are fine until someone punches you in the mouth’. Adversity is a natural part of the sales journey. I have discovered that at the core of a strong mind is an attitude, rooted in an ancient Nordic belief system called sisu. According to Emilia Lahti, sisu ‘begins where perseverance and grit end. It is the second wind of mental toughness, after a person has reached the limits of their observed mental or physical capacities’. Every top performer I have studied overcame battles that seemed insurmountable at the time and yet they did not give up.
Here are four shortcuts to building strong mind into your daily routine.
Make your own luck
Luck is a skill that can be developed. It’s about a flexibility of mind and a willingness to listen to your heart and trust your gut. Take advantage of chance occurrences, break the weekly routine, and once in a while have the courage to let go. The world is full of opportunity if you’re prepared to embrace it. Tina Seeling, executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures program and author of What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, writes: “Lucky people don’t just pay attention to the world around them and meet interesting individuals—they also find unusual ways to use and recombine their knowledge and experiences. Most people have remarkable resources at their fingertips, but never figure out how to leverage them. However, lucky people appreciate the value of their knowledge and their network, and tap into their goldmines as needed.”
Luck is as much about what you expect as what you do. Do you wait for success to happen, or do you get out there and make it happen?
Mentors raise your game
Mentors are like critical friends. They provide a private space for you to discuss challenges, overcome obstacles and test ideas. Mentors can also be living or dead. You can still learn by studying what winners have done in the past. Leaders are readers. Aim for multiple mentors who can accelerate your skills and confidence in negotiation skills, pitching and closing.
Build your posse
Behind every success story is a posse. That includes your family, your team, your networks and your clients. Don’t leave your posse to chance. To grow fast, you must build up a posse of thinkers and doers who you can tap during your sales career. A posse gives you access, insight and influence. It also provides protection and can help you bounce back from a setback. Equally, if you’re not connected to a posse it’s much more difficult to build a strong mind.
FAIL (from action I learn)
You are bound to fail occasionally. In failure are life’s little secrets: you cannot learn to ride a bike by reading how to ride one. James Dyson produced more than 5,000 failed prototypes before he invented his bestselling Dyson Air Vacuum. Embrace failure as your biggest teacher. It’s a vital part of the process of growing as a human being. A real failure is when you make a mistake and don’t fix it quickly and start over. The formula for success isn’t a mystery. It’s a conscious choice to learn from failure. Each wrong choice builds character and strengthens your mindset for the next challenge.
As my mother used to tell me, ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success.’
By Terence Mauri, author of a new book, The Leader’s Mindset: How To Win In The Age of Disruption. Out now.