In my past life as a sales manager, I used to pose a question to my new sales staff members while they were in training: on the path to success, what is a salesperson’s biggest obstacle?
They would think for a moment before they answered. Fear of rejection? Talking too much? Being too passive? Being too aggressive? The answers they gave were good, but not the answer I was looking for.
The biggest obstacle to a salesperson –or anyone, really — is themselves.
In order to have real success, we must have a healthy ego. Without that ego, we would not believe ourselves worthy or capable of conquering the world. Our ambitions would be dreams that were never acted upon.
The ego is a beautiful thing. It is also fragile and delicate and we can cling to it far too tightly. You see, the biggest obstacle to success comes when we end up in a situation we are unfamiliar with and refuse to ask for help…because our egos tell us we can/should be able to do it ourselves.
So how do we combat the ego when it attempts to take over? One way to do this is to build your personal and professional major league team. Among your team members, you should have the following:
- Mentor — If you don’t have this team member, find them now. Keep in mind that your mentor should be in the same field that you are in or a field you would like to be in. I know that women in business often seek mentors that are simply other women in business, but in my experience, industries can be so different. The wisdom someone outside of your field has may not always be as helpful or applicable as the wisdom of someone inside your field. Your mentor should have a vested interest in you as a person — developing someone professionally also means that they need to be developed personally. Your mentor should understand that. Figure out how often you want to talk to them and keep it structured when you start out. This woman could end up being your lifeboat — I know my mentor is!
- Life Coach or Therapist — This team member is not to be confused with your mentor. This teammate is a professional that you are paying to help you work through your work/life issues. The life coach or therapist will often collaborate with you to compile a set of realistic goals and then break out steps for achieving them. There are as many life coaches/therapists as there are approaches to the field…find someone whose approach you enjoy!
- Business Friends — No, I’m not talking about work colleagues. I’m also not suggesting that you divide your friends into little groups and give them name badges to label them. I am, however, suggesting that you find out which of your friends you feel comfortable talking about business with. In my social circle, I have about five or six people from whom I will regularly ask for career advice. We geek out about sales and marketing, we constantly create plans for world domination (or just business start-ups), and we hold each other accountable to our business goals. These people cheer for my successes, comfort me in my failures, and make me feel like I can take on the entire world.
- “Personal Life” Friends — Otherwise known as, well, friends. (These can overlap with your Business Friends.) These are people you can talk to about the embarrassing thing that just happened to you in the supermarket, about the funny thing that you just read on the internet, about how no one will ever love you ever (my friends put up with a lot). These people are just as vital to your success because they keep you sane and remind you to laugh and breathe. You should have at least one, if not more.
- Colleagues or Managers — Whether or not you like your manager or co-workers, understand just how important it is for you to know their strengths and what makes them tick. Identify these people, because if you come up against a work problem, you need to know who in your office will be able to help you out and teach you something in the process. You’re not going to win all of your battles, and you’re not going to solve every office situation by yourself. Your office is comprised of a team — so play nicely with your teammates. They will help you win as much as you help them.
Don’t be so foolish as to believe you can do it all on your own or that you got to where you are alone. Even if you did or if you can…who wants that? Do yourself a favor and optimize your success by compiling the best team in your league. Also, never forget to thank these people regularly for contributing to that success and find out if you can do anything to help them as well.
Who’d I forget? What other types of people made your team roster? Maybe you have a story about a particular time that one of your teammates came to the rescue — tell us!