I have not always have a lot of self-confidence. Outwardly I was Mr. Confident while on the inside I seriously doubted my abilities. I had to wrestle with my own mental baggage for years before I became internally confident. Learning to deal with this begins with letting go of your personal baggage.
Mental baggage is a collection of all the situations we have experienced or encountered during our lifetimes. We carry all this baggage around in our heads and draw from it when appropriate situations present themselves. Perhaps you tried to join a school sports team when you were a child. Your athletic abilities in that particular sport were average; for that reason you were unable to make the team. You filed away this experience in your subconscious until a similar situation to it came along. You immediately recalled the previous performance and outcome, and told yourself that you were not capable of successfully meeting the current challenge. Consequently, you did not make the effort required to meet it.
We all carry around this mental baggage. It influences us in everything we do, both in our business and personal lives. How it affects us when we sell is very simple. Mental baggage may consist of customers who have been rude, abrupt, or angry toward you. Baggage can include situations from earlier in our work careers or even from our childhoods.
As time progresses, this mental baggage weighs heavier and heavier. Yet we continue to drag it around with us into every sales situation. Over time our attitude turns sour, we become pessimistic and jaded, and we get frustrated with challenging customers and prospects. Our productivity drops, our performance slides, and our job security may even be threatened. We become increasingly bitter toward our chosen occupation, the customers we serve, and life in general. Our mental baggage is a weight on our shoulders.
How do we prevent this from happening?
First, carrying around mental baggage is a natural part of being a human being. It is the way we view and deal with our baggage that makes the real difference in our lives. If we look at each experience and consider how we can learn from it, our baggage will have less hold over us. I recall the first paid keynote presentation I gave. I was well prepared, but not in the appropriate manner. The room was an awkward shape and the stage was positioned quite high, something I had never dealt with previously. I was uncomfortable during my presentation and I knew my delivery was affected. Instead of focusing on this after my session, I chose to concentrate on what I learned from the experience.
When you encounter a sales situation that does not turn out favorably, rather than focus on the negatives and beating yourself up over it, ask yourself three questions:
1.What did I do well?
2.What did I miss or forget to do?
3.What will I do differently if faced with a similar situation in the future?
These three questions will help you learn and grow from each situation and will help improve your future results. Plus, by first focusing on the positive aspects of the sales interaction, you will give yourself a mental boost.
You must also recognize that some of our baggage is outdated. We may be relying on information that is several years old. This happened to me at the beginning of my career.
When I was twenty-three I was working for a restaurant chain as an assistant manager. I was promoted to general manager and lasted less than a year before I was demoted back to an assistant manager. I had proved unable to perform to the company’s expectations. I ended up leaving the company shortly afterwards. For five years I hesitated any time an opportunity for a promotion presented itself; I had not been sure I could do it. Finally it dawned on me exactly what I had learned from that experience. I was not the only person responsible for that particular failure, and my leadership and managerial skills had developed since then. Nevertheless, it took me five years to realize it!
Let go of your mental baggage and work on developing your personal confidence. Pay attention to your successes and use these to help you improve your results.
© 2005 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.
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