Tim Huffaker

I’m always amazed at what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing and no event is more capable of highlighting this phenomenon quite like the Olympics. 

Swimming events are my favorite as the participants reach deep within themselves to challenge world records that seem impossible to beat and they do so by a mere one hundredth of a second.  Michael Phelps became one of the heroes of the London Olympics by winning more gold medals than any other participant in Olympic history. And then there is Oscar Pistorius, the South African sprinter, referred to as the fastest runner without legs, who became the first person to ever qualify for an Olympic event while running on prosthetic limbs.

So why are these two athletes so remarkable and what can we learn from them that will help us become better salespeople?  There are many lessons to be learned and I will discuss briefly just a few of them in hopes that the lessons learned will facilitate improvements in our sales careers.

  1. Create an overpowering desire:  Without an overpowering desire, neither of these athletes would have ever reached the Olympics.  Michael Phelps was not born the greatest swimmer in the world, and Oscar Pistorius had both his legs amputated at mid-shin when he was eleven months old.  Their achievements did not just happen; they developed an overpowering desire to succeed at their sports. The desire drove them to do those things that others, possibly with even greater talent, were not willing to do.
  2. Develop a goal focused and activity centered life:  Both of these amazing athletes set goals in their lives.  They didn’t just work hard hoping to be great. They set specific activity goals that when achieved, would move them ever closer to their desired objectives.  Michael and Oscar both realized that success is not an event, but rather a process--a series of successive goals leading to their dreams.
  3. Instill an attitude of optimism in everything you do:  Life is played on a difficult field with obstacles and competition at every turn.  A positive “I can” attitude will provide a foundation for your personal success. The world is full of athletes and salespeople who could have been great if only their attitudes had not stood in the way.  
  4. You are not the only person with challenges:  Don’t believe for one minute that your trials are greater than someone else.  If you knew the challenges other people have overcome to attain success, you would be amazed, embarrassed and ashamed for your own performance.  Be grateful for who and what you are, and make the most of your situation. Remember, Oscar Pistorius competed in the 400-meter race at the London Olympics without legs.  Michael Phelps practiced six hours per day, seven days per week, for the majority of his life to become the world’s greatest swimmer.
  5. The rewards are worth the effort:  No one ever savored the sweet taste of victory without first paying the price.  You would be an Olympic champion too, if you paid the price of the victors. You could be the top sales producer in your field if you paid the same price as the top producers.  Life is full of examples of “price vs. reward”. There is a universal law that requires payment in full, prior to receiving the reward. Unsuccessful athletes, just as unsuccessful salespeople, have not committed themselves to paying the price for the desired reward.

Selling isn’t easy and neither is athletics.  However, in both fields of endeavor, the reward of being at the top of your game come as the result of an overpowering desire to be the very best, coupled with a goal focused life, an attitude of optimism and finally, through overcoming your own unique challenges.