“Mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” -Anonymous
In our last lesson, we talked about the sales process. By following a clear process, you increase your chances of being successful. However, there is another dimension that is just as important as the process. It is your perspective.
Perspective in Sales
A well-known joke is told about two shoe salesmen both sent to a far off land. Shortly after arrival, both salesman realized that no one was wearing shoes. He sent a telegram back to his office stating that he would be returning soon. His trip was unsuccessful. No one wore shoes. The second salesman, however, sent a telegram to his office stating that no one wore shoes, so they should send him all the shoes that they had as soon as possible.[i]
Perspective is more than turning lemons into lemonade. It is recognizing that which already exists. The rain can make you miserable because it gets you wet or it can help your crops grow. The first is negative, the latter is positive. They are both true.
But what is more important here is that your perspective can become a force in leading to, or inhibiting, your success. For example, when a prospect begins to ask questions, if you believe questions mean that you will lose the sale, such an attitude can sour the conversation, creating an adversarial relationship. But if you believe that those same questions are portals through which prospects move ever closer to closing the sale, you will welcome those same questions.
Perspective at the Office
Few of us work for perfect managers. Our perspective of our manager’s motivation matters a great deal. Did he make that decision because he is trying to make your life miserable, or was he well-intentioned, but perhaps misguided? If you perceive malice where none existed, you will be miserable.
I have a friend who has been bounced around at work every three to six months over the last five years. It has created a lot of uncertainty and instability in her work life, but perspective is important. She could choose to look at her circumstance as proof that her bosses do not care or that they are mismanaging her office, but she focuses on the value of the new experiences. All of these moves have padded her résumé, and she has developed a perspective of the organization and of life that she would not have had she stayed in one position over the same five years. In reality, it has helped her to grow and develop in areas in which she otherwise would not have.
Perspective in Life
The Apostle Paul closed his letter to the Philippians with this message:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”[ii] There is deep wisdom here. The human brain doesn’t easily focus on two things at the same time, which is why we are terrible at multitasking.[iii] We can focus on one thing, or we can focus on another; we cannot do both.
At this point in his life, Paul was under house arrest for preaching the gospel, and he would be martyred within two years. He could have said something like: “Guys, this is awful. I am in jail. Things are going pretty badly for me,” but he chose to set his mind on the good rather than the bad. While under house arrest, Paul wrote the books of Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon.[iv] Besides Jesus Christ, no one person would have a greater effect on the spread of Christianity than Paul.
In 1963, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was imprisoned for peacefully demonstrating, he penned his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail. In it, King wrote some of his more iconic lines such as, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and,
One may well ask: ‘How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?’ The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’[v]
His letter gained moral force because of the circumstances in which it was written. King had been jailed for leading a peaceful protest. He was placed in solitary confinement and denied a lawyer. It was a gross violation of the law, but King saw it for what it was. It was also an opportunity. He chose to stay in jail rather than be bailed out, an action that drew national attention to civil rights. Even President Kennedy was asked to intervene.[vi] King’s perspective about the situation mattered. It helped him leverage the situation in ways that he could not otherwise have achieved.
What About You?
How does perspective shape the way you act and operate in your sales, at the office, or in life? Perspective is not just a lens through which you see. It can become an accelerant to greater things.
[i] This story had been told and retold in a number of books including:
Maxwell, J. (2002). Attitude 101:What every leader needs to know. Nashville: Nelson
[ii] Philippians 4:8, New International Version.
[iii] Napier, N. K. (2014). The myth of multitasking. Psychology today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creativity-without-borders/201405/the-myth-multitasking
[iv] Everts, J. M. (1995). The Apostle Paul and his times: Christian history timeline. Christian History, (47). Retrieved from http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-47/apostle-paul-and-his-times-christian-history-timeline.html
[v] King, M. L. (1963). Letter from a Birmingham jail. Retrieved from https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
[vi] Maranzani, B. (2013). King’s letter from Birmingham jail, 50 years later. History Channel. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/news/kings-letter-from-birmingham-jail-50-years-later