The first publisher who asked for my first book, The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, hated the very first chapter because it was about self-discipline He said, “Why would you start a book with a chapter on self-discipline. Everybody hates that.” This what not exactly what you hope to hear about your work, let alone from a person who asked you for the book.
Selling Exposes Character
I patiently explained two idea to this acquisition editor. First, I explained that the things that I called “Mindset” in the book tend to be exposed more in sales than in other endeavors. I went on to explain how things that show a lack of character are amplified, and when one is deficient in these traits, they tend to fare poorly in sales.
After explaining this first idea, I went on to explain that if a person is unable to keep the commitments they make to themselves, then much of what comes after self-discipline is of little or no use to them. If someone can’t will themselves to prospect or follow-up or keep their commitments, how can they be expected to succeed?
The publisher parted ways at the end of our conversation. Fortunately, Portfolio understood that my book was a competency model, though one of my friends described it as “ If Anthony Robbins were mixed with Neil Rackham.”
The Enabling Character Trait
My belief that the ability to will oneself to take action is still the first among disciplines has only grown stronger over the last couple of years. More and more, the gap between a salesperson’s results and their goals is not made up some deficit of skill. Instead, it’s a deficit of will—coupled with an absence of accountability.
With few exceptions, we each know what we need to do to produce the results we want. When we don’t, that knowledge is available with a few keystrokes or a phone call. There is no lacking when it comes to discovering the recipe. What is more difficult, however, is following the recipe. For most of us, the largest obstacle between our current results and the results we seek stares back at us in our mirror each morning.
As it turns out, the first acquisition editor was incorrect. Not everyone hates self-discipline. Those who know the power of self-discipline very much appreciate it.