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And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, “Well… how did I get here?”

– Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

For as long as humans have inhabited earth, we have struggled with the tension between how we want our lives to be and how they really are. Where I want to be versus where I ended up. After studying top performers for over 30 years, I can assure you, top performers resolve this tension in entirely different ways from those they outperform.
In short, they are energized and tantalized by the possibility of doing better instead of defeated by it.
Follow these three strategies:

1) Change Your Room

As the saying goes, “If you think you’re the smartest one in the room, find a new room.”
As I write this blog, I’m on my way to Dreamforce, the largest sales conference on the planet. I’m speaking about artificial intelligence and the future of sales alongside Marco Casalaina, the developer of Salesforce Einstein AI for Business. Truth? I’m worried when I arrive I’ll bring the IQ of the entire room down by 20 points!

When we’re children, we don’t get to choose what kind of relationships we are exposed to or which of those voices we will replay in our heads. But as we mature, and recognize our limits, we have the ability to choose who we associate with and what kind of relationships will push us to grow and improve.

The bottom line: Successful people fail more, but they also fail faster. Moreover, they surround themselves with role models.

The best self-improvement starts outside us. The capacity to grow and perform at your peak comes first and foremost from those with whom we surround ourselves. That’s why I encourage sales teams and sales leaders to thrust themselves in uncomfortable situations: where they’re nervous, pushed and even intimidated. When the people around us are better, we get better.

2) Don’t Take “No” Personally

Stop taking “no’s” personally, and you’ll take more chances and reap greater rewards.
Research shows rejection can manifest as physical pain. But, when you stop taking no personally, your goals and dreams will outweigh your fears. Haven’t you said no to someone you like and admire? Sometimes the timing was wrong. Sometimes the offer wasn’t right. You had to say no. If you can say it, you can hear it.

The best thing you can do when you’re afraid is to take a chance. Be bold, and tell a friend or mentor exactly what your biggest fears are. Better yet, shout them to the world!

Here are mine that I divulge in my book Heart and Sell (These don’t include my personal fears like losing my family, getting old, and living in an apartment with a poodle in the Fairfax district.)

  • I’ll never be as good as (fill in the blanks—my mother, my brother, my colleagues, my competitors).
  • I really don’t know what I’m doing—I’m in over my head. (Imposter syndrome-this is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife).
  • I won’t have anything new to say.
  • I’m a has-been.
  • People will laugh at me.
  • My life won’t make a difference.

Take a moment and write down your biggest fears. You can send them to me here: shari @ sharilevitin dot com.

3) Get Out on the Skinny Branches

Go after the low-hanging fruit, and you’ll be competing against lots of cherry pickers. Take the more difficult path, and you will reap greater rewards. Or, as my friend David Atkins, a sales manager, put it: “Get out on the skinny branches.”

David likened sales success to climbing out on the skinny branches of a tree. “The most important sales virtue is courage,” he said. Top performers take chances. They create strategies to face rejection, and they accept that failure is an inevitable and necessary stop on the road to success. I try to get out on the skinny branches every day. I ask myself:

“What’s the one thing that I could do today, or the one person I could call who I know could reject me, BUT…………….. If they didn’t, it would change my business and my life.”

Try it… Right now, make a list of the ten people that you are most afraid or embarrassed to contact. The big accounts, the ones you’re not ready to call, the scary ones.
Great! That’s the easy part.

The hard part—but the most satisfying part—comes next. Pick up the phone, knock on the door, enter the scary room, reach out to those people, and go for the sale!
Want to learn more? Get my free eBook 7 Keys to Beating Rejection here.


  • Barry Hall says:

    Many thanks Shari for a great post, much appreciated and all the best! — Barry.

  • Shari Levitin says:

    Thanks Barry!

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