By Adam Berg, Managing Director, LMCA
The price we pay to be sentient beings is to have a knowledge of an uncertain future. How we deal with that uncertainty, in my opinion, dictates how well we will do in life regardless of how we define “well.”
The reason for this is because the thing that is out of balance in our life is how we deal with that uncertainty. Everyone has something out of balance in their lives. These things range from the uncommon to the usual suspects: Sloth, detailism, anger, complacency, hoarding, any kind of addiction to any substance, narcissism, sociopathy, bullying, over/under eating, etc. If you think you are immune to this or think you do not have something out of balance in your life, well, the point is made.
It is an interesting exercise. Take a quiet moment and reflect on how you deal with stress – that behavior – that “thing” you return to most often in the face of the unknown and the unknowable. If you do not find it, don’t worry, it has most certainly found you.
This has everything to do with selling. Never before has uncertainty, and its spawn, fear, presided as they do today. We have never sold in such an environment. It would be helpful therefore to take a minute and go beyond what we are afraid of, or why we are afraid, and explore where we run to when we run from fear and subsequent effects thereof.
In order to get on with selling, selling well and selling often we need rational thought to guide us today. Overcoming fear is not enough. It was enough just a few short months ago but not now. We need to understand what fear triggers in us. Fear makes us embrace the thing that is out of balance in our lives as a coping mechanism, and thereby hobbling our selling talents.
Much has been written lately in our COVID19 world about how rational thought will overcome uncertainty. We equate uncertainty with fear. True enough, but that is not the subject of this musing. Rational thought is part of “higher brain function” and resides in that part of the human brain that evolved last. Animals may not think the way we do, but all animals fear. That is why we fear fear first. It resides in the oldest part of our brain that we share with other animals – the brain stem, the limbic system, the “lizard brain”.
Selling anything, including strategic brand licenses, even under optimal conditions is still challenged by the unknown and the unknowable. Selling in the age of COVID19 is on a whole other level, none of which any us of have experience with.
How well each of us deals with the challenge of selling in the age of COVID19 will be remembered by our colleagues, associates, clients, accounts and customers. Each of us is looking to the other for guidance when no one has the answer. The difference between right now, and not too long ago, was someone had the answer, we just had to find them.
If this interlude does not ramp up the thing that is out of balance in your life, nothing will. We are working to impose order, to muster logic, to find fortitude and to do it with grace, elegance, and confidence when every fiber of our being screams for us to retreat and embrace the “thing”. The tension between the “thing” and our cognitive self – that person inside that knows there is a future – is a primitive kind of battle being waged in a portion of our brain we rarely visit for long periods of time.
That is another reason why we are so fearful. We are fighting a battle in our heads on unfamiliar ground. We can win that battle if we look to history.
The legendary English admiral, Horatio Nelson knew how important it was to be familiar with the seas he would be fighting in if he was to win. He laid the groundwork for the decisive naval victory over the French fleet at Trafalgar off the coast of southern Spain in 1803 through this insight. He did not train his sailors in the rough and surging waters of the English Channel and North Sea which they were most familiar with and at home in. He trained them in the placid nearly windless waters off the coast of Spain which they were not familiar with but where Nelson knew he would meet the French. On the day of the battle the sea around Trafalgar was like glass, a breeze, if you could call it that, of three miles per hour. He and his fleet were now well versed in how to maneuver in light conditions. The victory over England’s greatest rival of that age changed the world. The result was over one hundred years of English supremacy on the high seas and the Pax Britannica. His training motto? “Drill where you fight.”
We battle well. The universe is always seeking balance. And that balance gives us the tools to fight and win that battle. The tools we employ to beat back the thing that is out of balance are rational thought, pattern recognition and forensic contemplation – the basis of all planning. Not any easy task though. We talk about “moving forward” “being positive” “putting one foot in front of the other” “taking it one day at a time” “when the going gets tough the tough get going” “keep on keeping on” and “keep a stiff upper lip” when all we want is a stiff drink.
Nitze said “when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you” but he never defined what the abyss was. As far as I am concerned, he meant the abyss was the “thing” that is out of balance.
Anyone who can sell today, I mean today right now, can turn Nitze’s observation around; If you find the abyss looking into you, look back into it – it will blink first.
Adam Berg, Managing Director
Adam is a recognized sales and business development leader in Strategic Brand Licensing. His experience in the field includes being the primary architect of the Betty Crocker housewares, General Motors video game licensing programs and Rust-Oleum Corporation Seal of Approval licenses. He has had responsibility for the conceptualization and development of long-term impactful programs for AC-Delco, Campbell Soup Company, Dr. Scholl’s and Pebble Beach Golf Resorts.
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