My sales career has given me the opportunity to call on many successful people in different types of businesses and with varying levels of education. These associations have allowed me to learn about the ways individuals find achievement. While the variety of paths taken on the road to success is astonishing, they all share one direction — belief in oneself. To achieve success, you must not just conceive of a way forward, you must believe in it.
Napoleon Hill stated, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Hill is an example of someone who found his self-confidence later in life. He had repeated business failures, three failed marriages, was charged with fraud, and falsified his education. Yet, he was able to overcome the negativity of his early years and write the classic business-positive book, Think and Grow Rich, at age 54. He died at 87 a successful and respected man.
We all must overcome some form of discouragement in our lives. No one gets a pass. So, it is important to learn how to deal with negativity.
I was named after my maternal grandfather, who told me at age 12 that he was ashamed that I bore his name. He said I was lazy and wouldn’t amount to anything, words I carried with me for too many years. Now I realize it’s better to treat comments like these in the same way as the cat who reacts to his jump on a hot stove. It may burn you once, but now you know never to go near that place again. Move on.
When we free ourselves from negative thoughts, we are able to go forward. Belief in one’s-self enables you to see the needs of others and be open to serving them. As Hill wrote, “I will eliminate hatred, envy, selfishness, and cynicism, by developing love for all humanity, because I know that a negative attitude towards others can never bring me success. I will cause others to believe in me, because I will believe in them, and myself.” The most successful people I know all believe in themselves and have the ability to discern the needs of others.
How to Handle Success
Being successful puts you in a leadership position, where it is important that you consider and understand the needs of those you lead.
Authority and responsibility – Accepting a position in sales, or any other form of leadership, is a choice you make. Such positions mark you as a representative of your company and enable you to expand your realm of influence. This is a large responsibility and one you must treat with respect.
In Israel, I was fascinated by the ancient fortification of Masada. According to the historian Josephus, between 37 and 31 BCE, Herod the Great built a large fortress on the plateau as a refuge for himself in the event of revolt. From this high plateau, Herod could see an enemy approaching from miles. Similarly, a person in a leadership role is in a position of authority and responsibility. Find your high ground and use it to serve and protect the needs of your internal and external customers. Build a Masada to support your company.
Develop power wisely – We have all been endowed with enormous potential and capacity, but sometimes it’s hard to recognize. I’m reminded of the farmer’s son who was afraid that the bulls would charge him when he was on their side of the fence. He lost his fear when he learned to drive his father’s tractor. Now, he could chase the bulls.
Find and master the tools you need to succeed. As you progress in your sales and leadership roles, you will develop additional gifts and talents through “hardwired capacities.” Learn from others in your company and from your manufacturers reps. Let “iron sharpen iron.” The more education you gain through books and training, the greater your power. Subordinate what you want now for what you want later. Expand your choices and capacities. Your mind is like a muscle. Use it, and it will grow stronger. Neglect it, and it weakens.
As a leader, you have increased freedom and power to solve your customers’ greatest challenges and serve their needs. Harness this power by setting goals to manage your success. Never measure your selling strength by how many customers you have. Look toward how many new clients are out there. Do this through weekly account reviews and planning at the start of every week. With today’s computers and software there is no excuse for not setting calendar appointments with each customer by way of virtual or in-person calls. Let your client know what you plan to accomplish before you arrive.
Permission – When I proved to my parents that I was a safe driver, I was given the keys to the family car. Likewise, as I climbed the sales management ladder, I was given the keys to the businesses I was managing. If you believe in yourself and work hard, there will come a time when you are trusted with permission to lead. That permission comes with an understanding that you no longer have to ask what to do but are expected to know what to do and to report on it. You have been entrusted with the responsibility to set pricing, sign contracts, commit assets, etc. Most critically, as a leader you are obligated to make decisions that protect and enhance the company’s bottom line.
Life-satisfying privilege – In his book, See You at The Top, Zig Ziglar wrote: “The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not in the job. Success is not a destination, it is the journey, it’s the direction in which you are traveling. The privilege of leading people is that you can get what you want, instead of having to want what you get. When you set a limit on what you are going to give and do, you set a ceiling on how high you are going and what you will have when you get there.”
No one taught me more about the life-satisfying privilege I had in sales management and leadership than Zig Ziglar. Ziglar was born in 1926 in Coffee County, Alabama, into a family of humble means. He died at age 86 as a top author, salesman, and motivational speaker.
Helping people make decisions on products and services that will improve their lives, their company, and their futures is a life-satisfying privilege. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. Reach out and take hold of your opportunity to lead.
Designed for Accomplishment
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow stated, “The greatest tragedy of the average man is that he goes to his grave with his music still in him.” I’m so glad that along the way, I realized that I didn’t need to consider myself average. I always believed that God had a great and unique purpose for me. By using our freedom to act responsibly in the world, we uncover meaning in our life and can play our music at top volume.
Carefully consider your position of authority, responsibility, and power. The permission you have been given to lead is a life-satisfying privilege. As Ziglar would say, “You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.” Plan to go as hard as you can, for as long as you can — conceive, believe, achieve.