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Don’t enter into a new venture. Don’t sign contracts, buy a new house, expect to reach quota or count on callbacks. Do not be surprised if your technology is screwed up, your dog gets sick or something goes awry when you’re in transit.

That’s the advice from astrologers, sages and gurus while the planet Mercury is in retrograde, which lasts until this Thursday, March 28th this time around. This phrase is now a go-to scapegoat, a justification for when things don’t go our way.

Of course, scientists point out that this retrograde is an optical illusion, that astrology is hogwash and the chaos that follows is merely an excuse when life isn’t fair. I don’t claim to know if planetary events wreak havoc, but I do know that failure to take responsibility is the number one obstacle to achieving success.

Own your Responsibility

Taking responsibility requires courage because when we take responsibility, we’ll likely feel fear. A good coach not only wants his students to succeed, she fears she might fail them. A good chef will not only want his food to delight his patrons, he will fear he may disappoint.

If you take responsibility for anything in your life, sales or otherwise, you will feel fear. The fear may manifest as shame, failure or even physical pain. Yet without fear, there is no courage. Without fear, there is no accomplishment worth achieving.

We all have fears. And the fear of rejection often tops the list. This fear holds some people back from prospecting. Even picking up the phone can be terrifying, so what’s a sales rep to do? I find that when I distinguish exactly what my fears are and ask myself “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” I feel less scared.

The truth is, the worst that can happen is I feel embarrassed or unworthy—and that’s not as bad as not going for what I want.


It’s not personal, it’s business.

Stop taking “no’s” personally and your embarrassment and shame will start to disappear. After all, 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.

Release your Fear

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. Here are mine (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.
  • I won’t have anything new to say.
  • I’m an imposter.
  • I’m a has-been.
  • People will laugh at me.
  • My life won’t make a difference.

Ughhhhh. That was hard. But I feel better now and so will you if you try it: Take a moment and write down your biggest fears. What’s the worst thing that could happen if….?

The good news is Mercury is quickly moving out of retrograde, but unless you take responsibility and overcome your fears you will never reach the stars!

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