I’ve read a lot of the self development books and am continually on a search for the next breakthrough. Right now I’m reading "Are You Ready To Succeed?" by Srikumar S. Rao.
But the key point raised today by Steve Pavlina in his "Personal Development For Smart People" Blog has been the most critically important for me throughout my "thinking years"…which I place as the time when I stopped thinking like a college student and starting thinking about who I was as a person and what I wanted to be when I grew up. Pavlina talks about Self Acceptance vs. Personal Growth. Ah what a torturous topic! For so many years I struggled and tormented myself because I wanted to become "The best salesperson in the world," since, like many recent college graduates, I found myself in a sales job for the same reasons most do: lack of focus, no specialization of skill set, the lure of money, etc.
(The author believes strongly that selling is a serious and noble profession and skill but even the most accomplished sales person at the highest level would agree that selling is an "easy in" for someone with a decent outgoing personality and reasonable work ethic)
Why couldn’t I go out there and be better than anyone? Why do I still hate the rejection of calling someone and them rudely dismissing me? I struggled and read books and listened to tapes but I still wasn’t able to break through. Those were some rough years during which I made very little money. My wife is a saint for putting up with my erratically changing mental state during that time.
After about 1.5 years lamenting in a sales position with a phone company, I began to see the light just a bit. I began to ask the question, "What’s wrong with simply accepting that I’m not going to be a killer sales person?"
This simple question caused some discord in my brain waves…and things began to shift. Over time, I became more comfortable with the question and began refining my viewpoint. One one side I was empowered by not having to be the best at something that I wasn’t "cut out for"..and that was miraculous. But I was still tugged backward since everyone I know says, "Oh Doug…he’s a great salesperson." Getting pigeonholed like this was hard, but again, refinement kicked in. What about selling am I good at?
The list was drawn up:
- Building relationships
- Immersing myself in a business model totally so that I would understand its processes pain, and problems that needed solving
- Being responsive
- Being trustworthy
- Clearly communicating with all levels at the company from CEO to trench warfare specialist
Right about that time when this transition was taking place, a massive restructuring was going on at the phone company in which I worked. Exit Doug. After a fruitless job search for about a month, I was offered a 1 month gig at a tech start up. "That’s all the money we have Doug unless the business plan you are here to write gets more." A very collaborative 48 hours yielded a business plan that landed a $1 mil seed round…and my first work experience with living my newly accepted skill set…and lack of certain others was in full effect.
I still "sold" in this position, although I was dealing with executives who clearly accepted that I knew as much or MORE about their businesses than they did. I gained respect and received inbound calls from people who had "been referred to me after a contact had met them at a conference." I started sending a lot of emails directly to CEO’s and company founders completely cold (I still hated the cold call and still do whether I’m giving or receiving). The magic was that 90% of the time, I either got a direct response from the CEO or my message was forwarded to someone else high up in the company structure who was tasked with listening to what I had to say.
I was making deals for our company. I was negotiating terms and playing hardball with ridiculous CEO’s at major corporations. I was flying all over the U.S. first class in the hunt for new business.
I was selling!
I felt great about it though because I was still growing personally. I was learning new things, pushing myself to the limit, working 14 hour days and relishing in it. On so many levels, I was firing on all cylinders and when I ran out of them, I just modified my engine. Life was good.
I had learned to accept myself…but I was striving to become better, stronger, and faster in other key areas. I had found the formula that left me self-satisfied and still allowed me to strive for more. I was deriving self-worth from a ore position and understanding of what I am and who I am…not something that was mercurial like job titles, income levels, or personal relationships.
Focus on the following from Pavlina and you just might have your own breakthrough.
"Have you fallen into any person-position pairing in your own life? Do you derive your sense of self from things that are changeable and vulnerable, such as your income, your job title, your relationships, or any other form of status? How much energy are you investing in defending those positions out of fear?
When you loosen your attachment to positions, you don’t have to defend them…..
When you root your self in something permanent, then your sense of self is effectively untouchable. Your position can be attacked, and you can still defend it if you like, but you won’t feel irrationally compelled to defend it out of fear. You won’t feel you’re being personally attacked when your position becomes vulnerable."