A Healthy Disregard

A colleague  and friend,  Marc Bassin always counseled “Work smarter, not harder”.  For years I tried to embrace this philosophy but found for me it was “Work smarter and harder”.  Over the years Marc and I have discussed, debated, and agreed to disagree.   

When Larry Page, co-founder and chief executive of Google, promised on the company’s Web site to continue to maintain, “a healthy disregard for the impossible”, it brought to mind the smarter vs. harder debate and got me thinking about what I believe it takes to succeed in sales.  

Marc is an Organizational Development Consultant and I am in sales and sales training.  I think that accounts the difference in our perspectives.  I have the highest regard for his work, work ethic, and judgment but he is not in sales.  There is an entrepreneurial streak and large dose of optimism needed to be in sales which feed a “healthy disregard for the impossible”.

Of course, it goes without saying that all professionals do all they can to work smarter.  In sales using process, tools, and resources helps us do just that.  But I am not convinced smarter is enough.  I believe it takes smarter and also the extra push implied by “harder” and often a little more -- especially in our current sale’s environment.

But the word “healthy” is telling too.  It means being realistic and balanced.  The balance part can be hard.  Larry Page understands this and to help his team develop mindfulness among the courses Google offers is “Search Inside Yourself”.  For most salespeople to achieve balance there must be a deliberate carving out of time our families, ourselves, friends, and interests which provides renewal  and increases creativity.

I think Larry Page captured what it takes to succeed in sales when he reinforced his commitment not to easily accept the impossible.  Sales demands a  greater depth of knowledge,  a focus on the customer’s buying process,  sharper skills, and more support and tools but also essential are optimism and confidence and the drive to make things happen, to take control.

Much has changed in selling in the past few years.  What’s more important than ever is the need to have a “healthy disregard for the impossible”.  Nike built a business on it with its “Just do it.”  I love the sound of that and the vision it inspires.  It is about believing in yourself, wanting to and having the discipline to win.  When is the last time you challenged the “impossible”?”  

When is the last time you searched inside yourself?