Roland and Sean have two ways of looking at the world. Whenever something bad happens to Roland – a lost deal, a tax audit, or a marital squabble – he imagines the worst: bankruptcy, large impending fines, or even divorce. Roland is continually near the bottom of the leaderboard, but it’s never his fault.
Sean, on the other hand, sees bad events in the least threatening light. To Sean, they’re temporary surmountable challenges that he can overcome. Sean knows you can lose the deal but you can never lose the lesson. He’s optimistic. He meets challenges head-on and asks himself “What can I do better? How must I adapt my approach?”
The traditional view of achievement, like the traditional view of sales success, needs overhauling. We operate on the conventional assumption that says success results from a combination of talent and desire. But what if this traditional view of success is wrong?
According to psychologist Martin Seligman, optimism can be learned, and without it, we’re doomed to fail in every aspect of our lives.
I recently heard a story about a sales guy named Jason. Like Sean, he’s a third of the age of all these “older guys” at this car dealership. Yet, he’s outselling them 5 to 1! A reporter from NPR couldn’t figure out why. When they started following Jason and getting to know him, they found something very interesting: he was practicing something NPR termed “constructive delusion.” (See more here).