In the first blog in this series on building sales character, I introduced a proverb that I believe comes from ancient Jewish tradition (Mishnah):
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
I am now going to take up each of these factors, beginning with the first: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.”
There is an excellent book available today, one which we promote, called Consistency Selling by Weldon Long. In his book, Long presents this proverb in a different way: Thoughts control emotions, which leads to controlling actions; when you control actions you control your results, and results control your thoughts. I tend more to the proverb as stated in the beginning here: “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.”
How Can We Do That?
When you tell someone to “watch their thoughts,” most people will respond that they can’t do such a thing. Thoughts just happen on their own.
The truth is, though, that the thoughts “just happening” have a lot to do with what you feed your mind. The kind of content you mentally absorb throughout your waking hours influences your mind, just as your body is influenced by the food you take in. If you eat fast food every day, your body is going to gain weight and become unhealthy.
The same is true of your thought processes; they are influenced by the messages that come in through your senses. If, for example, you sit in front of a TV for hours on end watching totally violent content (or, as some do, play video games of the same), your thought processes will be negatively influenced to say the least.
So to start with, “watching your thoughts” is influenced by what you’re mentally consuming.
Avoid Random Thoughts Taking Hold
Theologian Martin Luther once said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” He meant that there are many thoughts flying through your mind—but you do not have to allow them to take root and develop.
One of the powerful weapons that we possess as human beings is the capacity to say, “Stop!” We can actually say, “I don’t want this thought process in my head!”
As an example, a person can become jealous. Let’s say you’re in a good relationship, but someone whispers something negative to you about your partner. You might think at that moment, “Maybe my partner is betraying me! Maybe they’re a cheater!” This kind of thing can occur well beyond romantic relationships—it can certainly happen in companies, too. You do have the capacity to ignore that thought and move on.
So it’s a mental battle that we can actually win, simply by “keeping the birds from building nests.”
Affected By the Past
All of us are affected by our past to some degree. We’ve all experienced varying degrees of emotional trauma. We may have had difficult childhoods, bad experiences. The telling difference between successful people and others is this: do they allow such thoughts to dictate their lives? Do they allow their thought processes to bring them to destructive words and actions—or do they say, “No! I don’t want to follow this destructive pattern!”
No true accomplishment comes from having been a victim. Someone might have had a horrible childhood, and they might have every right to be angry and upset about it. That person has the option—and moreover the obligation—to make a decision to not let their past run their life.
What can you do about it? There are many answers to that question, and such recommendations aren’t the subject of this article or this series. Simply, I would recommend that you find something that really works for you and that really helps you. But the main thing is: decide to change it and do everything possible to do so.
You’ll find that people who greatly succeed in life and business are not controlled by their past. They simply decide that what has happened in the past will not continue to influence their future.
And know that when you make the decision to rise above your past, it isn’t an overnight process. It takes persistence. The more you stick to that decision, the better off you’ll be. It’s just like anything—sports, for example. Someone doesn’t dive into a swimming pool one day, and the next day becomes the next Michael Phelps. It’s about practice and consistency. It’s something you work on every day.
Here’s another quote, this one from Steve Jobs: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
That certainly applies here.
Application to Sales
A salesperson, perhaps more than any other profession, should watch their thoughts because they become words. How you speak to a prospect is an indication of your thoughts. Everything you say—and then, everything you do—influences the sales process, the buying process. Sales don’t exist without communication, so everything you say influences others.
- Monitor and control what you watch, listen to and take in.
- Don’t let bad thoughts circling your head come to land there.
- Learn to overcome your past wounds. Live in the present.
Once again, we’re human beings. We’re the only species with the power to change. We do that by making a decision: “I don’t want that anymore, I want to succeed and move on.”