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The world is changing at an exponentially faster pace. To keep up, you have to continue learning and continue developing yourself to succeed in a reality that is recurrently being recreated in real time.

You need new skills, new ideas, new strategies, and new tools to add to the deep and timeless fundamental principles that make sales. But to make room for new skills, new ideas, new strategies, and new tools, you have to do some unlearning.

Shedding Your Skin

Learning is growth. As you change and grow, your old skin starts to become a little too confining. You need to shed that skin and replace some old beliefs with new ones. You need to replace old ideas with ideas that may now be more effective.

What was once a great truth may need to be abandoned for a new, uncomfortable, and inconvenient truth.

Beginnings and Bravery

You begin with your sacred cows. You begin by being brave enough to question your longest held beliefs. You begin with doubting what you have held sacred.

What beliefs do you have about sales and selling?

What do you do routinely, on autopilot, without having to think about what you are doing at all (automaticity)?

How long have you done things this way?

What if something has changed and what you are doing is no longer effective? What if it never was as effective as it some other choices you might have made?

What if there are new ideas (or old ideas) that might allow you to produce even greater results?

It takes a massive amount of courage to question what you believe. It is an act of bravery to consider alternatives to the actions you have so routinely taken for years (or decades). But this is where growth and learning begins.

You empty your cup and make room for something new.

The Art of Unlearning

A few years ago, I started to practice aikido. The art requires that you greet your attackers incoming force by getting out of the way and using their momentum against them. For months I greeted incoming force with force. I had been taught to greet force with force, and so, I did as I had always done. It felt natural.

Patient teachers continually told me I was fighting force with force. They told me to step off the line and get out of the way. They told me I was too physical and that I was grabbing onto my opponent. I heard their words. I believed them. Intellectually, I understood exactly what they were saying and what they wanted me to do. And for months, I continued to do what I had always done.

To learn the art, to be more effective in the face of physical conflict, I had to unlearn what I knew. I had to abandon my belief that force needed to be greeted with greater force. Over time, I learned to slow down, to center myself, and to greet force by getting out of the way.

It isn’t enough to simply question your long held beliefs. To learn and to grow, you have to take new actions. You have to be willing to forego actions that are as comfortable as an old coat and try on some new beliefs and some new actions.

Maybe it’s been years since you considered how you approach your clients. You may have been using the same prospecting method, saying the same thing, and getting the same results for a long time. Learning to approach your clients some other way is uncomfortable, it is unknown, and it doesn’t feel right.

Keep learning. Continue your self-development; it’s your responsibility. But while you are doing so, work on unlearning what no longer serves you and what prevents your growth.


What do you need to unlearn?

How do you empty your cup and abandon your long held beliefs?

What do you do to take new actions instead of doing what you have always done?

Why is so difficult to let go of what you believe and the actions you take, even when you know intellectually that there are potentially better ways you might try?

What are you unlearning?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on July 27, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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