In sales, the right mindset is everything. The mindset translates into some form of habits, which then translates into tasks and activities. At the end of the day, the mindset finally results in a person’s daily behavior.
In life, it is critical to begin forming a mindset as early as possible. I’ll take, for example, my own son, who is 15 and in high school. He wants to be a professional basketball player, which means he must begin training and forming a mindset right away. If one starts too late in such an endeavor, they have no chance in today’s competitive world. In addition to the mindset, they cannot gain the skills, training and routine. All of that takes years to build.
The same is true in the corporate world. Building a mindset takes a long time. If you arrive too late, you have no chance. A person entering the business world has no hope of coming in late, and then, boom, having everything just work out. An example would be the content creation in my company, which I have steadily worked on for over 10 years. I can confidently say that, as a CEO in my industry, I have created more content than any other company in my field. No one could jump in today, begin creating content, and come anywhere near what I have done.
Part of an Organic Whole
Why is a mindset so critical today? Because innovation in a company must come from every quarter within it.
Too often, advanced innovation is credited to only one person. In my industry, Steve Jobs would be an example. He is revered for his incredible innovations with devices such as the iPhone. The fact is, however, Jobs had a great team. He was the leader of that team and its inspiration, but the innovation came from many others as well.
Within a company, employees often behave like robots, performing the minimum of their jobs daily. They’re not conducting themselves as part of what an organization truly is—a living organism.
Can you imagine if an organ in your body, such as your liver, decided not to be part of the organic whole? If it just decided to do something else or take a vacation? The body is always fully functional, and if one part of it is not working, we are quick to react.
In today’s complex world, there can’t be just a few people in a company that innovate. You need the whole team. For that reason, people within an organization must be brought to this organic mindset on a daily basis.
Shifting the Mindset
The approach of the organic whole is why we must shift individual mindsets.
Part of the reason that this approach has disappeared is the separation of the company into separate divisions and departments. While organizationally, such separation is necessary, that doesn’t mean it should lead to a total mental separation from the company, which it too often does. We lose what Austrian economist Fredmund Malik calls the “holistic approach.”
We must start with an individual and get them to answer the question, “Who am I?” as well as, “Who am I becoming?” Influencing the individual influences the team; the team influences the department; the department influences the division; and the division influences the entire company. In the end, then, it all comes back to the individual and helping them to define how they live within the company.
There are many restrictions upon an individual’s mindset. A person often restricts their own thinking with negative self-critical thought processes. When you restrict yourself through your thinking, shrink yourself, or downsize yourself to a certain role. It is no longer about growth.
We’ve all watched children—our own or others— growing up. When a child is little, everyone is excited about their first day of school. Then, everyone enthusiastically watches as the child graduates from grammar school, then middle school, then high school, and perhaps from college.
But all the “cheering on” stops after the person grows up. It’s as if because a person has stopped growing physically, they can no longer grow mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. With this viewpoint, we limit people. How do you feel when you run into someone who hasn’t seen you for, say, 25 years, and they say, “Oh, you haven’t changed at all”? To me, this is an insult. If you hadn’t seen a child since they were five, and you then saw them when they were 15, what would happen if you said, “Oh, you haven’t changed at all” to them? They’d be crushed!
It is indeed possible for a person to continue to grow after their body has stopped growing. The beginning of a mindset change is informing people that positive change is achievable.
Shifting the Scale
Shifting the mindset is rather like shifting weights on a scale. A person with an incorrect mindset is like a scale with weights all on one side. The person assumes that the weights are permanently there and that change is impossible. They feel, for example, that the boss is constantly working against them—always demanding hard work without a raise. Someone with that kind of attitude is not part of a team.
That is the viewpoint of some unions—employees and management are totally separate. Instead of working as a cohesive whole against outside forces such as competition, the economy, and the environment, and working to strengthen the customer, technology, and partners, parts of the company are divided up and opposed, and the organization is therefore weakened. As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
How can we move these negative weights from one side of the scale to the other? How can we get people to have a better mindset and realize that change is good not only for the company but, in the end, for them as individuals?
Confirmation of Little Wins
The mindset shift is brought about through a consistent series of small wins. This series must continuously overpower the negative attitudes, such as “I cannot make it” which, if left unchecked, overpower the individual. They have no reason to push themselves to get better. These negative attitudes gain more influence if they are confirmed by others in the environment who say, “Yeah, this guy cannot make it.”
Confirmation of positive wins is what will help propel a person forward. For example, I recently reactivated the Peloton exercise machine in my house. Yesterday evening, I took a 30-minute Peloton ride, and the voice from the device was constantly affirming and backing up my efforts. It was not easy because the program consisted of peddling up mountains and taking sprints. But the voice from the machine said, “You are still in! You’re still there, you’re still biking!” This is constantly a positive confirmation.
Making this shift is not a one-time event. Our company has an unbelievable group spirit, but it evolved over many years. People finally realized I was a trustworthy leader, and without funding, I was bringing in people to build a substantial company.
Begin With Yourself
You should begin with yourself. In my last article “Sales Ethics Characteristics”, I provided two exercises that greatly aid in the elimination of negative thoughts. They consist of writing down the complete answers to two questions: “What would I lose by getting rid of this negative attitude?” and “What would I win by getting rid of this negative attitude?”
You should also read books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, or attend conferences that will reinforce positivity. Surround yourself with people with the same mindset.
Once you begin to shift your own mindset, you’ll find yourself influencing others, too!