“Life is difficult”, reads the first sentence of author Scott Peck’s book “The Road Less Traveled”. Pretty much sums up the book and the experience of most people. – especially today. The reaction to any adversity, challenge or difficulty for most people is to quit and throw in the towel. They act as if they have a personal bumper sticker that says “When the Going Gets Tuff the Tuff Quit”. Unfortunately, this philosophy once acted on creates a habit that weaves a strong cable that is hard to break.
Everyone has plenty of opportunities to quit and usually do.
We enter into relationships with little thought or planning, accept jobs we are not committed to, sign on for things that quickly seem more challenging and difficult than we’d hoped for – like selling. Enroll in classes like yoga, tennis or golf, start a book with good intentions of reading the entire thing. Sadly, most people quit or bail on these and most other things they attempt.
In his book, “Mastery”, George Leonard explains that if you are an average adult who has never played tennis, and you wish to become a skilled player, it will take you an average of three one hour practices a week for fifty weeks a year for five years. Something most people are not willing to do. Students of neuroscience will tell you it will take about the same amount of time to develop similar skill in any similar endeavor. Most people are unwilling to do this and they flit from one activity to another never becoming skilled at anything, including selling or business.
*As a side note, I live in Pensacola, Florida, the home of the US Navy’s flight demonstration team The Blue Angels, regarded by many as the best pilots in the world. Most of these pilots have 2000 plus hours in the cockpit of fighters and at least 100 carrier landings. This seems to be the prerequisite to even being considered. Many apply but only a few are accepted. There is a lesson there.
The list of celebrated, influential and rich entrepreneurs with at least one embarrassing bankruptcy or very close call, past and contemporary, is long, long indeed. I, myself, have dome close to making this distinguished list. If Scott Peck’s message is true, that life is difficult, it is compounded for those who claw their way to the peak of the business success and money pyramids. Selling is all about managing a never-ending in-flow of crap, and diligently looking for the pony occasionally in it; about converting adversity to opportunity when you can, and not being overly troubled when you can’t. And, of course, not quitting.
Quitters are very uninspiring.
What’s inspiring are those rare individuals who don’t know the meaning of the word quit and who are quickly and defiantly resilient, who achieve redemption, who have a greater and grander next act. Over the long haul, next to self starting, ‘resiliency’ is the most important of all personal characteristics for sales success – probably for all success. How you act when you get knocked down. How quickly you get back up. How you can weather storms of criticism or humiliation. How adept you are at reinvention. How courageously and creatively you respond to difficulty. If you want to cultivate a personal characteristic that will serve you well, this is the one.
Most people are easily derailed. Easily put into a funk lasting hours or even days. Easily compromise their agenda and become wandering zombies when they experience adversity. When you quit, at least be honest – especially if your reason is “Gee, where’s the Easy Button, anyway? Don’t see it here. I’ll go look over there.” That kind of quitting isn’t about the place you walked into, the activity you started, the toolbox you opened up, the learning curve and time required. It’s about YOU.
Of course it is always about you, isn’t it?