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Last week, Lauren Bailey, President of Girls Club, asked me to deliver the closing keynote at their first annual conference in Park City, Utah. This presented a challenge for me.

I teach sellers how to sell stuff, and I help leaders coach sellers to sell stuff…Now, I’ve been asked to “tell my story.” That meant I needed to become vulnerable and reflect rather than share my competence. I must share the failures and the successes that got me to where I am today. Yeah, mostly the failures.

I believe, we spend a lot of time thinking, planning and strategizing, but not nearly enough time reflecting on why we do what we do, and how we might proceed with more honesty and clarity. We gather information, data, and recipes for success. But information alone is never enough. Knowledge without wisdom leads to action without purpose.

Upon much reflection, I shared three principles that I believe have shaped my success over the past 30 years.

1) Forced Optimism

We have two choices in life. We can look for what’s right in a person or an event, or we can look for what’s missing. I have found throughout my life when I focus on what’s working rather than what’s lacking, my confidence and my success grow exponentially.

You’ve heard the expression, “Do you see the glass as half-empty or half-full?” Top performers see their glass as overflowing. The best sellers not only look for reasons their qualified customers will purchase; they’re dumbfounded when they don’t. In short, you will see what you expect to see.

This idea is even more critical when leading others. According to a new article in Harvard Business Review, The Feedback Fallacy, “Focusing people on their shortcomings or gaps doesn’t enable learning, it impairs it.”

2) Relentless Tenacity

Ross Perot once said, “No doesn’t mean no — just ‘not now.’” When I started my training company in 1997, I consciously set out to see how many no’s I could get, knowing that after a certain amount of them, I would hear a yes. I called every prospect I could and reframed feelings of embarrassment and self -doubt if and when they rejected my offer.

I offered free training if the CEO would sit in, and even sent a pizza with a poem to a prospect who wouldn’t return my calls. Once you change your mindset regarding the word “No,” you’ll change your sales and your life.

Relentless tenacity also means giving each customer your very best, regardless of the task.

When asked why he gave his all, even in statistically meaningless late-season games after the Yankees had already lost the pennant race, the great Joe DiMaggio responded: “There’s always a kid who came to the game to see me play for the first time, He deserves to see me give my all.”

Every audience deserves your best performance.

3) Compassionate Prioritization

Truth. As a sales leader, I used to be “that woman.” I was the passionate, dedicated, childless executive who admonished other parents who requested time off to be with their families.

“What do you mean you don’t work on Christmas Eve?”

“A school play, what’s the big deal? Don’t they film them these days?”

“Who takes the Friday off after Thanksgiving?”

But what I learned over time is that unless we are true to every aspect of ourselves, we can never reach a sustained level of proficiency.  When people use the phrase work-life balance, most of them imagine a seesaw. On one end is work, on the other end is family or friends. Everything is a trade-off.  When relationships are up, work is down. This implies that work is separate from living a life or that It’s something to be balanced against your life. But the opposite tends to be true. When we have meaningful, fulfilling, purposeful work it radiates through our lives. And when we have happy, secure, loving relationships, they emanate through our work.

Do you reflect on your principles? The gold standard for purposeful self-reflection is simply that we do it often. We act, we reflect on our actions, and we make small changes to our actions. Just as scientists build theories through trial and error, you can use your life experience to craft principles to shape your life. What are your life principles? What are the guiding philosophies that determine your daily practices? Stop and reflect.

I’d love you to share them with me in the comments below.


  • Barry Hall says:

    Great post Shari, many thanks — Barry from the UK.

  • Rick Yeatts says:

    Your doing your best work ever, keep it up.
    Rick Yeatts

  • Shari Levitin says:

    That’s a huge compliment coming from you. You’re a role model for how to create a fulfilled life. Great to hear from you.

  • Susan Saline says:

    Awesome blog Shari
    I look forward to your words of wisdom

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