Editor's Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on May 19, 2020. Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography.
For reasons I can’t fully articulate, sometimes inspiration strikes and propels me to take on a challenge that I once would not have considered possible. Currently, a gentleman by the name Tom Bilyeu, and the work he and his team are conducting at Impact Theory, has become one of my catalysts for personal and professional growth.
Impact Theory’s stated mission is to free people from The Matrix. Said another way, they want to end the poverty of poor mindset. If you spend some time on their site, listen to Tom’s podcasts, entertain the life lessons shared by their guests and open your mind up to growth and learning, you will quickly become inspired and realize that our potential as human beings is merely scratching the surface.
“A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” - Abraham Lincoln
In his attempt to help individuals escape The Matrix, Tom has a reading list of 25 books which he recommends that everyone read to better understand how they can unlock their potential. Others have embarked on this journey and I have decided to join them by dedicating myself to reading a book per week for the next 25 weeks.
Is that ambitious? Yes. Could I extend the journey out it out over a longer period? Sure. However, one of my ultimate pet peeves is people using the bullshit excuse of “I don’t have time” as a reason for not improving their mind or body. To bring value to others, especially in sales management and coaching roles, and to hold myself accountable, I will be reviewing at a high-level each book upon completion. Currently I am two books into the challenge and I am loving every minute of it.
First up, Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.
Fixed MindsetIndividuals believe that their basic qualities, things like their intelligence or talent are simply fixed traits and cannot be improved upon, thus stunting their capacity for growth and performance.
Growth MindsetIndividuals believe that their basic qualities, things like their intelligence and talent, can be developed through hard-work, commitment, and trial and error. Intelligence and talent are only part of the equation.
One of my favorite stories from this book was that Winston Churchill, who most definitely had a growth mindset, used to set up special departments whose sole responsibility was to give Churchill all the worst news, or news that he did not want to hear, and to disagree with him if necessary. He did this because he wanted to avoid being group-thinked and by doing so it allowed him to be more confident in his ideas and decisions; it also helped him sleep at night.
Even though Churchill lived in a time where authoritative leadership was much more mainstream and readily accepted than it is today, he was smart enough to understand that his mindset around information and collaboration was going to determine his success or failure.
3 key takeaways from "Mindset" that apply to Sales Coaching
1) Praise the hard-work not the outcome
In sales, managers tend to put a huge emphasis on the outcome, did we hit our number or not? Did we win the deal or not? This is not wrong per se, but when you unintentionally attach a team member’s self-worth to whether they won or lost, the outcome becomes more important than the work that leads to the outcome. Often, we talk about this in terms of leading indicators versus lagging indicators. When a sales person succeeds, make a concerted effort to acknowledge the hard-work and effort that led to the desired result, not simply the desired result.
2) Not you or your team are finished products
For most people, if you ask them to imagine Thomas Edison, they will paint you a picture of a man that is alone, in a white coat with wacky hair, and whose genius was the reason for his success and all of us benefiting as a result today. However, the truth was that Edison was not always a genius, it was learned. Through his imagination, mindset, and drive for improvement Edison evolved into a genius. Even still, he did not do it alone, he was big on collaboration, effort, and failing in order to succeed. In sales, it is imperative for managers to understand that their teams and themselves are not finished products. The goal is to develop and nurture talents so to consistently hit sales numbers and develop self-directed teams. This begins and ends with the mindset of the sales coach.
3) Mental strength can be learned
This book does an amazing job of showcasing the power our minds ..... hence the title. However, even though we all know our minds are powerful beyond comprehension, we continue to treat it as something that is innate to the individual. This is just not true. When sales managers begin coaching to mental preparation the way they coach (or don’t) to physical skill development, you are going to witness some massive sales growth and record-breaking years. Mental strength and capacity are things that can be learned, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise, especially you.
This book was fantastic and it did an impressive job of setting the tone and preparing my mind for completing the Red Pill challenge which I am sure was done deliberately by Tom. We are all familiar with the catch phrase “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”, well it’s true and this book does an excellent job of helping the reader understand why.