You Can Be Like Michael Phelps–In Sales

Self Motivation

I am constantly amazed by, and have tremendous respect for people who excel at things I could not, or would not want to do. (Which is really, most things, now that I think about it. Especially anything involving tools.)

Architects who design massive structures. The people who build them. Nurses. School teachers. Most of the workers on “Dirty Jobs.” And certainly, as I have the TV on in my office while I write this, Olympic athletes.

As I watch the gymnasts glide, bounce, tumble and flip, I just shake my head.

And Michael Phelps. Are you kidding me? Get this: He was interviewed the morning after his record-breaking eighth gold medal and was asked, “So what next?”

He said, “I don’t know…probably try another event, one that I really haven’t worked on.”

Here’s the most decorated Olympic swimmer ever, owning more medals than most countries, able to cash in hugely on his success, and he says he needs to find a new challenge he can master!

THAT, fellow sales pro, is the kind of attitude rarely found among most people. Then again, it’s not surprising, since it what makes extraordinarily successful people—the top 2%—who they are. The attitude drives the work, which drives the continued work, which produces the results. And they make the performance look easy when you watch them.

The reason I say that excellence attitude is rare is because I see the opposite of it so often.

You would think that in sales, a profession that can provide a lifestyle beyond the reach of most employees performing regular jobs, you’d have more people going for their own Gold. Yet, I regularly see and hear about sales reps who are “veterans,” and have been in sales for x number of years. So does that mean they are performing at high levels. Quite often, not. Many times they are coasting. Downhill.

Longevity does not mean excellence. Hey, I have known how to swim for 40 years. That does not mean I could race in a competition. In fact, my arms would turn to bungee cords and I’d probably choke up a lung 50 yards into it.

Many sales reps are not motivated to attend training, invest in themselves, listen to audios, read books, newsletters or other online information,  practice, or God forbid, put in the little bit extra time after-hours and weekends to go to the next level. But it’s there for the taking. So few squeeze out every drop of potential. Or squeeze at all.

Sure, many people would like to make more money. That’s why gambling, the lottery, and get-rich-quick schemes are so popular.  But they are not willing to do the real work that it takes to actually succeed.

I’m often amused that after training programs  I’ve presented, and this usually happens at a large national convention with several hundred people in the audience, someone will come up to me and say, “You know, I’ve been in sales a while. I could do what you do.”

I always enthusiastically respond, “You should!”, knowing full well that most would never try. Not ashamedly, I can say that I can make talking before 1000 people look easy, and deliver solid content in an entertaining, engaging way. What people do not see is the thousands of hours of work that preceded that presentation. What drives it is an insatiable desire to get better and smarter, and the work ethic to make it continue to happen.

The great news about personal performance is that it is 100% our choice, and responsibility. At any time, anyone can make the choice to begin going for their own Gold. Or resuming the quest.

And as the financial guys say, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Meaning that if someone has been a total screw-up to this point in their life, that has nothing to do with the positive choices they make moving forward.

Over the past 25 years in my business, and a few before that in corporate life, I’ve learned one thing to especially hold true and I see it validated every day: your attitude about sales, and your subsequent actions are a greater contributor to your success than any other factor.

What are you doing, right now, to in pursuit of your own Gold? Would love to hear about it.

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