“Stop staring at me kid.”
That was a phrase I heard more than once growing up. Often, actually.
I guess I was learning, trying to understand what made them tick, what made them behave the way they did.
So, I watch people. It is my passion. It is my hobby. I just like to study people.
Growing up, my favorite thing to do was to people watch, especially at the grocery store and in church, maybe it still is. In school I studied my teachers. In Hong Kong I studied the people I served. Professionally I like to truly understand my colleagues and clients.
When I first started in sales I studied all the great salespeople at my company. I have done it everywhere I have gone, still do.
When you focus on others, you begin to notice, you start to learn.
Throughout my years in sales, sales leadership, and training I noticed that all the great sales professionals shared one trait.
…the 1 trait they all shared?
They are all very stoic.
The modern popular idea of being stoic is wrong. These great sales professionals were not lacking energy, emotion, or passion, they were not always even-keeled. Their personality wasn’t stoic.
They were stoic. Their actions were stoic, they embodied the actions of what the ancient thought-leaders taught.
So I had to study more. While studying the Stoic philosophers, I found that everything they taught can be applied to sales. In sales, learning fast is a main key to success. We need to learn how to add value, immediately and in a wide range of situations. Studying others helps us learn faster.
So once I made this connection, I decided to study stoicism more in-depth.
These are the lessons learned:
1. Approach every situation with commitment and resilience.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius
Or as Marius (Sneaky Pete, Amazon) says, “Work the problem.” Often, the thing that is our greatest obstacle, becomes our greatest strength, if we embrace the pain and go with what we have. We can use the lessons we learn from failure to create a much better future. These obstacles we face are tools we can use to learn and grow. Once we have gained new skills and experiences, we can always have them in our knowledge bank to use forever going forward. Be diligent in pursuing your mission, never give up but change course as needed.
2. Stop worrying and focus on what you can control.
“Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.” – Epictetus
Every ounce of energy spent worrying is energy wasted. If you can change it, do it. Stop worrying. If you can’t change it, ignore it. Stop worrying. There is no need to ever worry. Just focus on what you can do, what you can control. Your life will get so much better when you do. You will help more people. Your family will respect you. Your clients will love you.
3. Work hard now to learn and develop skills, so you are always prepared when the right opportunity is created.
“Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.” – Seneca
No matter how many opportunities someone has, if they cannot execute, the opportunity never happened. When you are skilled enough, educated enough, and action-oriented enough, every opportunity will become a reality. Those with the most opportunities also happen to be the most prepared. Focus on learning. Focus on growing your skills. Focus on helping others.
4. Everything you do must add value.
“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” – Marcus Aurelius
If you are not adding value, you are wasting time. Don’t waste anyone’s time, especially yours and your clients. Share truth. Share insights. Provide examples. Show a plan, create a path forward. If you want to be a person who is valued, GIVE MORE.
5. Focus on being present.
“Life is very short and anxious for those who forget the past, neglect the present, and fear the future.” – Seneca
Since the past and the future both are not real, they do not exist, you must focus on today. Focus on your current tasks, your current role, your current opportunity. Do your best today, and your tomorrow will always be better. You will feel more fulfilled and do better work. Be present for those you serve. Listen more. Help more. Do great work.
6. Decide and do
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“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” – Epictetus
Action is more important than planning. Decide who you are and then take the action that matches that decision. Decide quickly and take consistent action. The best ideas are worthless compared to even the least amount of action.
7. Integrity and character always surface.
“If it is not right, do not do it, if it is not true, do not say it.” – Marcus Aurelius
Be honest, be true. Nothing else matters if you are not a person who can be trusted. Build trust by living your values. Make sure your words align with your actions, every single time.
Being stoic is about responsibility. The best salespeople take ownership of their thoughts and actions. They know that they can choose the meaning for every experience. The best sales professionals choose to be accountable for their thoughts and actions.
You are needed. You are already worthy. You do not need other people to validate your worth. As you focus on helping others, you will feel more confident. As you align your actions, thoughts, and values you will find meaning and fulfillment. You will sell more. You will help more. You can always add value to others, the choice is yours.