Attitude, Energy and Appearance: The “True Grit” of our ProfessionMay 14, 2012 | Posted by Ed Albertson in Sales Training
Mention the word “grit” and one is likely to evoke a vivid image of the tough, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal in the western movie True Grit, originally made famous by the iconic John Wayne in 1969 (reprised by Jeff Bridges in 2010). In the story, Marshal “Rooster” Cogburn is a cantankerous lawman who demonstrates his perseverance and courage throughout his relentless pursuit of the movie’s villain.
Similarly, succeeding in the sales profession requires fortitude to deal with resistance, rejection, uncertainty and constant change, along with personal responsibility to satisfy our customers and our own organizations, all with endless energy and a positive attitude. In every sense, selling is not for the faint of heart. The ability to succeed depends on many factors, including the abilities to summon internal strength and “stick with it.”
In the book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, author Jonah Lehrer describes the educational experience of the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) – a high school that attracts students from as far away as 90 miles. At NOCCA, students daily spend their afternoons exploring and practicing their abilities in drama, writing, music and painting. Lehrer explains that they are really learning “what it takes to get good at something, to struggle, fail and try again.” Not only has perseverance produced notable artists like Harry Connick, Jr., 98% of NOCCA seniors go on to college and furthermore experience success in life. NOCCA’s results demonstrate the value of providing the environment for students to develop their own sense of self-regulation, while working toward a goal and a degree of mastery in their field of interest.
The technical term psychologists use to describe this perseverance is grit, and it’s been studied from many different angles to determine its effect on success in a variety of pursuits. A 2007 study of West Point cadets conducted by Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania) and Christopher Peterson (University of Michigan) found that “the achievement of difficult goals entails not only talent, but the sustained and focused application of talent over time.” Grit, or working “strenuously over time toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress,” was proven to be a more accurate predictor of success than any other factor.
At Carew International, a portion of our sales skills development curriculum explores the impact of a sales person’s Attitude, Energy and Appearance on their sales effectiveness and business relationships. In addition to the influence those attributes may have on a customer, it might very well be true that these traits also provide us with a positive self-image and that important determinant of success, grit. Maintaining a positive attitude, exuding high energy and presenting a professional appearance can add to our ability to maintain effort and interest over time “despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress.” Attention to these details could result the acquisition of our own “true grit” to succeed!
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