This is the second Episode of a five part miniseries on Building Resilience, you can find episode one here.

You Need a Better Why

I really struggled with math in high school. It’s not like it was hard for me to understand the concepts, algebra is great geometry I loved, I just wish wish someone had told me why it was important. I didn’t understand when I was going to use any of this. If somebody had come to me and said Robert, “As a sales guy, you’re going to make a bunch more money. If you can multiply large numbers in your head.”

Yeah, I probably would have cared a lot more, I would have taken it more seriously. But nobody gave me a good reason why I should give a rip about math. I mean, my teachers would joke about how I’m not going to have a calculator with me all the time, which I guess the joke is on them because my phone, my watch; they all have calculators on them.

Start With Why

Simon Sinek, I saw a Ted talk from him and he has a good book about this titled Start With Why. It’s great and you should go read it. As salespeople, we really want to start with the what and the how, and then maybe if we have time we get to the why. When people ask, “What do you do for a living?” It’s just really easy to say I do IT Support, or I’m in sales… but that’s not really what anyone’s asking. What people really care about is why. Why do you exist? Why does the world care? And I guess the problem is that the why is just so much more important than the what or the how, but it’s a lot more difficult to define and to lay down. 

As salespeople, we need to have a really good why. Selling a great product isn’t the same thing as having a great why. It’s not enough to just be good at your job and meet your quota. It’s not enough to have a lot of success as a sales person. I mean, those things  help, but they’re not going to get you through the tough times. That’s because pain is really hard to deal with without a good why. You encounter people that have pain every day, they’re called prospects and a ton of them don’t buy. They just do what they’ve been doing. 

Fear is Poor Motivation

I just want to talk real quick about the fear of losing your job. The fear of losing your job is not a good motivator. Think of it as the coal of motivation. It’ll certainly do the job. It’ll get hot. It’ll get you moving or create steam and the engine can run, but it burns dirty. Being afraid of poverty, or losing your job, or the shame of being homeless creates a lot of pollution in your life. Fear can get you through the week, or month, but it’s hard to be successful over the long term.

You also have to have a good reason to keep going when the job isn’t that tough. What happens when you meet your quota? Whether you meet your quota or you miss your quota, I’m guessing a whole lot of your success is the consistent activity every day. Again, and again, and again, no matter what. We talked about this in the last episode, the discipline to keep moving forward.

If you’ve met your quota, you have to still keep going. But also when you make more money than you ever thought, humanly possible. It’s going to be really hard to keep doing the job if you aren’t afraid anymore.

Your Why Must Be Emotional

Humans are driven by emotion, whether we like it or not. That emotion flows through us like a river. You may be able to direct the water of a river one way or another, you could maybe dam it up for a while, but that water is going to go where it wants.  It’s going to keep coming. It’s going to do what it’s going to do. There’s only so much you can affect it.

Correctly managed, those emotions can be an incredible fuel. They can be very powerful, like a hydroelectric dam, or they turn turbines and create lots of energy. But incorrectly managed, emotions can destroy cities. Well, at least your metaphorical version of cities. Unchecked emotions can be incredibly destructive. Your why has to be emotional and it must drive you.

Your Why Must Be Logical

Sometimes when we dream, we talk about things that will never be. The dreams are too outlandish. I’m not saying don’t fight for the big, hairy, audacious goals; I have some myself. It has to make sense. It can’t be pure fantasy, it has to be somewhat logical. Your why has to be something you can actually believe is achievable. If your, why is a fantasy, it’s not going to create any real motivation for you. It doesn’t need to be something like a smart goal, though. A smart goal could be helpful, but the reason why I hesitate for it to be an official SMART goal is the time requirement. 

Having a why that’s attached to a specific date means it’s finite. If it’s finite, that means it’s exhaustible. It should not be exhaustible. For instance, what happens if your why is simply to hit your quota and not lose your job? Fear is the primary motivator, I don’t want to lose my job and go live in a van down by the river. But what happens if you’re having a killer year and you hit your quota?  What happens if you’re at 90% quota, and you know that no one at your company gets fired for only hitting 90%. How do you keep pushing to 100% or 110%?

Where is your why now? What happens when you have enough money? What happens when you look at your bank account, and there’s more money than you’d ever thought you’d have? And the only way to really keep pushing yourself forward is I don’t know, buy more stuff or a bigger house. That’s not a great idea and that’s certainly not a great financial decision.

Your Why Must Be Bigger than You

So, what do you do if it’s not money?  Well, let me tell you about what it was for me for Endsight for a long time. I knew that if I hit a certain goal, we would get to hire people. If we hit a certain goal, people got promotions that they were promised. We would grow. Right now I can literally point at people who work at Endsight because of deals I closed. I can see people who are thriving because of clients I sold. That provides me with an positive, clean burning fuel. That doesn’t have any shame or fear associated with it. It’s inexhaustible. I can always sell more, and more people get hired. That why is greater than myself or my needs.

Pain will push you only so far. At some point you won’t be in pain anymore. Your problems become largely irrelevant, and take a back seat to comfort. But if your why is bigger than yourself, then it becomes something that helps other people as well. And then it’s not as hard to keep the flywheel spun up. It’s not as hard to go and do the activities every day.

When my why revolves around my own needs, it becomes a comparison of pain. What’s the greater pain, what hurts more: The sales activity in front of me, or my why? It becomes this constant negotiation between what hurts more? Is it doing the cold calls or is it my financial situation? Is it the fear of getting in trouble, or that cool thing I want? If the reason why you sit down and make those calls again and again, and again, is that you want to give that guy his promotion. Who is going to win?


So that would be my encouragement for you this week. Sit down and think about in your professional why. Is it emotional and gets you stirred up. Is it logical, and something you can imagine actually achieving. And finally, is it something that serves the needs of others, that is inexhaustible. Does the world get better the harder you work.

If you’re loving this series, feel free to send it to someone who you think might be encouraged by it. And I will see you guys next week.

This is the second Episode of a five part miniseries on Building Resilience, you can find episode one here.
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