Self-motivated, by fear!

I realise that people talking about themselves too much is boring, but bear with me on this one.

A recent response to a social media post got me thinking about a few things from my past.

Going through my last year at University, I always maintained that I was motivated by the fear of failure having come so far down the line with my education and being this close to obtaining a B.Eng. It took me about a decade to work out that I was actually motivated by succeeding, I just downplayed it by dressing it up as fear.

The last year at university was peppered with the occasional trip to campus and a large amount of time doing assignments and my final year project. I maintained that it couldn’t possibly be quality that got me through, I was desperately mediocre from an academic point of view.

However, a change of campus, a clean slate at the start of September, my final year project chosen and a new-found desire to succeed set me on my way.

A new-found desire to succeed. That was it. I wasn’t motivated by fear of failure but a desire to get this thing absolutely nailed-on!

The difference between the ‘desire to succeed’ and a ‘fear of failure’ could easily be seen as the starting points for the same destination. After all, if you want to succeed, you don’t want to fail. Conversely, if you don’t want to fail, you want to succeed. Seems right?

This is where your brain steps in. The brain doesn’t comprehend a negative, so it doesn’t like ‘don’t’ and it effectively deletes it from your thought pattern and makes plans to set you on your way to your pre-thought destination; success.

Except it doesn’t because your brain has just deleted the word ‘don’t’. Your brain has set a course dependent on one of two thought patterns. ‘I want to succeed’ or ‘I don’t want to fail’ (except you now need to remove the ‘don’t’). If you’re worried about failure, your brain is working out how best to process thoughts and information to get you closer to the ‘fail’.

Have you even been passed a delicate object by someone only for them to say to you; ‘don’t drop that’? Your brain is now going bananas trying to look for an opportunity for you to do just that; drop it. The far better advice would have been; ‘be careful with that’.

There’s no denying, sometimes we fail. But if we work towards success, we have a much better chance of succeeding.

I was asked a few years back by a long-standing customer; ‘just how do you do, what you do? I don’t think I could live with taking the knock-backs all the time’. The answer is simple, if you work in Sales, you have to believe in your own success, even if that means spotting a prospect idly wasting your time to get what they want out of you (free consultancy, if you will). At least your success in that instance was spotting it.

There’s no space for hopeless optimists in Sales, they believe they can turn everything around; perpetually attempting to nail jelly to the ceiling. To do well in sales, you need realism coupled with a desire to succeed and a mental compass set to ‘making profit’ in a morally correct way. Making these three things work harmoniously. Now, that’s the sweet spot.