It is Sunday, August 12, and it has been two weeks since I have been on the internet for fear of spoiling my Olympic fix for the night. What I found is that I am not alone. Of the 2.4 billion people around the world that watched the Olympics, there were several others who did not want to know results and those that did. Either way, the Olympics is the single largest event that unifies the world.
Perhaps, the most perplexing concept to understand is how people can watch athletes give every ounce of their heart and soul to reach extraordinary feats and go back to work on Monday performing ordinarily. More interestingly, some will sob when their heroes reach the medal stand, yet, not see the parallels in their own profession. While Mount Olympus is the pinnacle of an athlete’s journey, we as salespeople are also striving to reach the summit. Sales is the most quantifiable, easily measured department in any entity, for your success is directly tied to your efforts. Maybe eighty thousand people don’t come out to watch you present to a customer but the same amount of passion can go into the preparation, execution, and closing. We all have had times when we looked at our ranking report and our situation seemed bleak. However, when we ciphered through the latest reports, we realized we were actually not as far as we thought from achieving our goal. Selling in a challenging economy is tough, but is it tougher than running 400 meters without legs? The 400 meters is considered the most vicious race in track and field because it is a grueling sprint that lasts for a quarter of a mile. Oscar Pistorius, the South African double amputee set a goal of running in the Olympics and reaching under 45 seconds in the 400 meters. He reached one of those goals and ran 45.39. He set “SMART” goals that were high, but obtainable. If there is any question about where to begin in goal setting, look no further than Kirani James of Grenada, whose country had never won a medal. Kirani based his goal on pride. He dreamed of winning a gold medal for his country. James reached his goal, and what made it even more astonishing is he did it while carrying a full course load at the University of Alabama. While most of his peers dropped out to concentrate on their sport, he could not because he was on a work visa and had to maintain a full course load to stay in the U.S.
Sometimes our issue may be giving too much attention to our obstacles. We have heard them all, “People are cutting back, the economy is weak, my company has fewer resources than my competitors.” Are any of these more difficult to overcome than setting a world record in archery while legally blind? South Korea’s Im Dong-hyun would probably laugh if he heard any of these excuses. If Dong-hyun can hit a bull’s eye from 70 meters away without the use of glasses, how high can you climb up your organization’s sales ranking?
If anyone is defined by determination, it is Gabby Douglas. She spent countless hours practicing her leaps and became known as the “Flying Squirrel.” The new nickname combined with winning the all –around gymnastics competition, helped Gabby build her brand, and be selected for the cover of the Wheaties box. Possibly an even more remarkable achievement came during the team competition when Team USA needed a 14.80 to win and she scored 15.20. Years ago, one company’s sales representatives carried a coin that read, “Expect to Win.” I wonder was this Gabby Douglas’ thought process. Or did she scramble her last name until it read Gold USA?
Dion Harding is a keynote speaker, sales trainer, and author. For more please go to www.dionharding.com