You don’t want to be the guy or gal who shows up to work and does what is expected; you want to be a leader whose success is limitless. Who better to help you transcend the sales doldrums and become a true sales leader than the transcendentalists? Below are five quotes from some of the most influential 19th-century thinkers and a few ways you might be able to apply their ideas and advice to your career or business.
1. “Every man is hero and an oracle to somebody, and to that person, whatever he says has an enhanced value.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’ve all heard it said that in order to be successful, you ought to surround yourself with successful people. While this may be good advice, in the real world, we often find ourselves surrounded by people we don’t consider to be particularly successful. If you have supervisors or team members that aren’t exhibiting behaviors or performing actions that you believe are productive, consider what you might be able to do to improve their behaviors or performance levels. If you think about it, the ability to nurture others is probably something that nearly every leader you admire is able to do—and do well. When you are able to be a “hero and an oracle” within your current position, regardless of how low you might be on the corporate totem pole, you can bet people will notice.
2. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” –Henry David Thoreau
In sales, we talk a lot about lead nurturing as a means of getting prospects from point A to point Z, which, of course, is the point at which we close the sale. Nurturing a lead to point Z is considered a success. Above, it was suggested that we should also nurture those around us in order to become successful. Shouldn’t we nurture ourselves as well? If you want be a sales leader, you’ve got to be willing to nurture yourself and give yourself the room and space you need to build the foundation that will enable you to reach your dreams.
In the book, “How Successful People Think,” New York Times bestselling author John C. Maxwell proposes that it is necessary to find a place to think, shape, stretch, land, and fly your thoughts in order to become a successful thinker. According to Maxwell, “It doesn’t matter whether you were born rich or poor. It doesn’t matter if you have a third-grade education or possess a PhD. It doesn’t matter if you suffer from multiple disabilities or you’re the picture of health. No matter what your circumstances, you can learn to be a good thinker. All you must do is be willing to engage in the process every day.” So, consider finding a place and time to think every day. You just might be able to nurture yourself to point Z.
3. “Re-examine all that you have been told… dismiss that which insults your soul.” –Walt Whitman
We live in a culture in which people are taught to admire those who don’t work for their wealth, fame, social status, and other accouterments that, rightly or wrongly, are commonly considered to be signs of success. Desiring wealth, fame, and social status isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a true sales leader knows how to draw a line in the sand and turn his or her back on certain practices or opportunities that might result in quick wins, but that ultimately aren’t in alignment with their long-term sales and other goals—whether those goals have to do wealth, something loftier, or simply being able to provide for family.
What are your beliefs about success and leadership? Are they in alignment with popular thinking, or do they differ? Deciding how to “dismiss that which insults your soul” is something you will want to do when you go to your thinking place.
4. “There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.” –Herman Melville
Once upon a time, there was a president of a technology company who ran a respectable business that netted three to five million dollars annually. One day, his very capable administrative assistant informed him that his sales staff needed a standard letterhead to use on all outgoing letters. Instead of turning the creation of the letterhead over to his administrative assistant or to any other member of his staff, he sent out a company-wide e-mail stating that he would develop the company letterhead and distribute it for all to use. Six months later, he did, finally, distribute the company’s official letterhead company-wide. Would you be surprised to learn that ten years later, he still ran a respectable business that netted three to five million dollars annually rather than the significantly more profitable enterprise he had hoped to create?
To delegate, by definition, is to assign responsibility or authority, or, as Melville might put it, to exercise “careful disorderliness.” As a leader, it is important to recognize that quality will likely diminish when you delegate tasks to others, and also, that it will probably be necessary for you to have processes in place that will help maintain specific quality levels, but you also have to recognize the importance of letting go. Did the president of the technology company in the story above really need to take on the task of creating the company letterhead? Was it in his best interest to take on the task?
5. “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” –John Muir
Everything you do or don’t do as a sales professional or leader has an impact on your career, your business, and your life. You can dislike the way your supervisor and/or team members are performing and decide to take advantage of your situation by nurturing and leading them towards success, or you can do nothing. You can set aside time to nurture yourself, or you can opt to sit back and complain about your lack of success. You can analyze your thoughts on success, leadership, and ethical responsibilities, or you can go with the flow, come what may. You can delegate or you can plateau. No matter what you do or don’t do, one thing you can count on is that your actions and inactions will manifest themselves in ways you hadn’t anticipated. You may not be able to anticipate everything that comes down the pike, but you can do your best to prepare. You can prepare and you can transcend.
Visit the Vendere Partners blog again next week for part two of this blog post. Five more inspiring quotes and additional ideas from Vendere on leadership and success are to come.