An old Cherokee tale gives us the story of a young boy and his grandfather.
The boy shares, “There is a fight going on inside me. It is a terrible fight. It is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, regret, arrogance, self-pity, false pride, lies, and ego.”
He continues. “The other is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, faith, generosity, and kindness.”
The grandson pauses and then asks his wise grandfather, “Which one will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
In my years of leading, training, and coaching sales professionals, I have observed that sales is largely between the ears. It is a mental game. No different from elite performers in other fields, sales professionals must deal with the conflicting thoughts, feelings, and emotions that get in the way of our best selves. I don’t know if positive thinking works, but I’m 100% sure negative thinking doesn’t.
Dealing with the evil wolf
We cannot eliminate the evil wolf – it will always be there. No amount of “I’m a winner, I’m a winner, I’m a winner” as we look in the bathroom mirror will banish the evil, negative wolf. We must get know him; deal with him. Instead of beating ourselves up for not making calls every day or not being fully prepared for a sales call, we should accept that we are not machines – we are not perfect. We will have some good days and we will have bad days. It is OK. We will never conquer the evil wolf. We need a healthy respect for him, realizing that if we lower our guard, if we lose sight of our plan, we will be pulled back to negativity, mediocrity, and poor performance. We cannot conquer him – but we can tame him.
How do we tame the negative wolf?
The Not-OK feelings that are produced by the evil wolf can be tamed. As an example, you don’t feel up to your prospecting calls, but you do it anyway. You are not really in the mood to pre-call plan that big call later in the day, but you do it anyway. That is how you tame the evil wolf – by taking action toward your goals.
Feelings lie. Feelings don’t care about goals. If we only prospected when we felt like, most of us would never prospect.
It is a curious thing that happens when we take action and do the behaviors that we have committed to doing. Our attitude improves. We become more optimistic. We feel better about ourselves. Behavior drives attitude. Behavior feeds the good wolf.
Your feeding plan
If we are going to keep the negative wolf at bay, we must be intentional in particular areas. I coach my clients to focus on inward growth as a means for achieving goals. We are all comprised of spirit, body, and mind. Heart, flesh, and head. Being purposeful in these areas will help build confidence, self-image, and that feeling that we deserve to be successful. Below are some ways you can cultivate inward growth.
- Spirit points to that sense of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. It could be the mission and values of your company; it could be prayer and quiet time; it could be mindfulness or meditation. Most successful people understand that the world does not revolve around them. They are a part of something bigger. We must remind ourselves of this daily.
- Body involves the energy and vitality we bring to our goals each day. Managing our energy is paramount to being our best selves. Am I underweight or overweight and how does that impact my self-image? How much sleep am I getting? Do I eat to live or live to eat? Am I sedentary or do I move and sweat on most days?
- Mind is about what goes in – and how that impacts what comes out – of our minds. Do I dwell on past failures or do I worry about the future? Guilt and anxiety rob us from our best selves. What kind of content do I consume? Am I caught up in the endless loop of social media and 24-hour a day sensationalism that the television brings? Do I spend time being thoughtful and reflective about my goals, my dreams, my ambitions, and intentions? Journaling is a wonderful habit to cultivate in this area.
As we create a plan for working on ourselves, our attitude improves. We focus on “being.” We feed the right wolf.
Lastly, after we cultivate the habit of working on ourselves, we shift our focus to what we do. Top performers have goals and plans to guide them. Ultimately, our behaviors – our actions – drive our success. Do you have quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals? Do you measure, track, and fine-tune them? Do you display the discipline, vitality, and guts needed to stay true to your plan?
We must learn to live - and yes, even respect - the evil wolf. He lurks. We lower our guard. Hello mediocrity. Hello Not OK feelings and attitudes. With a focus on working on “being” better and “doing” better, we can feed the good wolf and enjoy the success we deserve.