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⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️
Today’s edition highlights the path to building a legacy in sales by exploring a conversation between two G.O.A.T.s of American sports – Kobe Bryant and Coach Nick Saban. It unpacks the value of “The Process,” and why falling in love with the journey (and everything that comes along with that) is more valuable than the end results.
Read time: <7 minutes + a 7 minute video
Brick by boring brick
Many of you know I’m a fan of Stoic philosophy. I was reminded of a powerful meditation from The Daily Stoic a few weeks ago.
Here’s what it was:
“You must build up your life action by action, and be content if each one achieves its goal as far as possible – and no one can keep you from this. But there will be some external obstacle! Perhaps, but no obstacle to acting with justice, self-control, and wisdom. But what if some other area of my action is thwarted? Well, gladly accept the obstacle for what it is and shift your attention to what is given, and another action will immediately take its place, one that better fits the life you are building.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.32
Ryan Holiday and Steven Hanselman when on to translate this mediation into more understandable terms:
“Elite athletes in collegiate and professional sports increasingly follow a philosophy known as ‘The Process.’
It’s a philosophy created by University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, who taught his players (when it’s crunch time) to ignore the big picture – important games, winning championships, the opponents’ enormous lead – and focus instead on doing the absolutely smallest things well – practicing with full effort, finishing a specific play, converting on a single possession.
A season lasts months, a game last hours, and catching up might be four touchdowns away, but a single play is only a few seconds. And games and seasons are constituted by seconds.
If teams follow The Process, they tend to win. They overcome obstacles and eventually make their way to the top without ever having focused on the obstacle directly.
If you follow The Process in your life – assembling the right actions in the right order, one right after another – you too will do well.
Not only that, you will be better equipped to make quick work of the obstacles along that path. You’ll be too busy putting one foot in front of the next to even notice the obstacles were there.”
Here’s a great video to watch where Nick Saban and Kobe Bryant talk about this further:
Lessons from Kobe and Coach Saban
The first powerful line in the video is when Kobe says to the Crimson Tide players:
“Edit your life. What’s the most important thing to you? And when you do that exercise for yourself, things get clear rather quickly. You say to yourself, ‘I want to be the best’ or ‘I want to do this’, and if things don’t line up with that, get rid of it.”
Lesson 1: If you say you want to retire early from the corporate world, or you want to close a marquee logo, or you want to be in President’s Club, what are you being distracted by? If it doesn’t serve your purpose, get rid of it.
How often do you edit your life?
Around the 2:35 mark, Coach Saban remarks on every great player having the mentality of excellence, and Kobe goes on further to say:
“Loving The Process. Loving the journey. It seems like this generation seems really concerned with the end result of things vs appreciating the journey to get there. What I see a lot from young players is they’ll try, they’ll push, and then all the sudden they’ll get hit with adversity (and say)…’nah, let me do something else,’ instead of staying with it. Just stay with it.”
Lesson 2: The trials and tribulations are not obstacles to avoid, they are gifts…challenges to embrace that test your ability to progress on your hero’s journey.
Here’s a psychological model backed by science to illustrate this point.
(Note: most Revenue Generators quit their versions of The Process at stage 3, and reset too often by following “the next shiny object” or trying to start all over at a new company promising utopia. Hate to break it to you, but utopia doesn’t exist).
What are the obstacles in your life that you can turn into superpowers?
At 3:52, Kobe highlights something really important that applies well into the Revenue Generation world: “Once you know what excellence looks like, you can translate that into any field.”
Kobe when on after his stellar basketball career to be a hyper-successful venture capitalist.
I also prove you don’t have to be in sales until age 67. I used my sales career to both stack my skills (like learning how the biggest and brightest companies in the world operate) and invest big commission checks to design my business around the life I wanted.
Lesson 3: Your sales career doesn’t have to be the end-all/be-all in your career. Many of you have entrepreneurial ambitions. A helpful kickstarter to that endeavor will be finding and fine-tuning excellence in sales so you can repeat success. Then you can use that success to fund the next stage of your life on your terms.
What does excellence look like for you?
At the 4:33 mark, Coach Saban says “the ‘fun’ of it is knowing you did your best to do something very well.”
Kobe shared: “One of my good friends is Nadia Comăneci (the world’s greatest female gymnast). So I asked her out of the blue, because I kept hearing people say this about her: ‘She missed her childhood,’ and I said, ‘How do you feel about that?’ And she goes ‘I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. I learned how to be the best in the world, and I traveled the world, and saw some amazing places. Most of my friends would be hanging out at the mall and shopping. What’s fun about that?”
Funny enough, when I was intentional about leaving college after my sophomore year to pursue a professional soccer contract in Romania, I got to train at Nadia Comăneci’s sports complex in her hometown, Onești.
While I was training there as a 20-year-old, I kept thinking to myself, “I’m glad I’m not in a dorm room drinking beer and playing PlayStation. This is much more fun (even though it was grueling hard work).”
Lesson 4: Rethink your definition of fun. Is it what society, or your peers, or your company tells you “should be fun,” or is it what you defined for yourself?
What is your definition of fun? (Sometimes it helps to replace ‘fun’ with ‘interesting.’)
At around 5:10, Coach Saban shifts to saying “I think we live in a world where it’s about ‘where do I get my self-validation from?’ And do you really love ‘the game’ and do you really love the things you are doing to be the best at, or do you just want to get some feedback over here on Twitter about what you did or how someone else thinks about you? And I think that’s not really good for developing ‘self.’”
Kobe remarked “It’s not. You’re going to fake it. You’ll fake it until you go up against someone who’s not faking it. And they’re going to call your bluff. And then you’re going to be in trouble.”
Lesson 5: The person you have to live with for the rest of your life is you. You can’t fake it when the only person looking back at you in the mirror is you. Developing the ‘self,’ even when people aren’t watching is key.
Who’s voice is in your head encouraging you to be the best – yours or the myriad of people you think are important (who really aren’t)?
At 5:50, Coach Saban remarked on something Kobe mentioned to the team: “With patience, you have to be impatient, but you can’t get frustrated.”
To which Kobe clarified: “For me it was ‘Why am I not playing? What can I do differently? I have to be better.’ For me it was a challenge of getting to a place of where it was undeniable – ‘You have to play me because I’m that good, I’m that efficient, I’m that strong on both ends of the floor’…so it actually helped me, because I was coming off the bench the first two years. I was like, ‘Ok I have to figure this out.’ So I use it as a source of motivation, not to get frustrated or whine about it.”
With so many ups and downs in sales, the easy thing to do is to complain about your weak territory, your sucky account list, the tough macroeconomic environment, or the difficulties connecting with key executives. But that doesn’t get you any further on your journey.
Lesson 6: There is a comfort zone of mediocrity. It’s what “keeps you on the bench” versus looking for ways to use obstacles to get better.
What’s one thing you can complain less about, and instead, take action on this quarter to get really good at?
To round things out, at 6:30, Coach Saban says “But you’re being responsible for your own self-determination.”
And Kobe reminds us, “It’s also the strength to tell your family members and your friends to ‘shut up.’ There is a lot of outside noise, like ‘oh you should be starting,’ but I tell them ‘Shut up, no I need to get better.’ You have to focus on what you can control. You have to be able to have the strength to edit all that noise, and say ‘No, I don’t want to hear it – this is on me.’”
The outside noise in sales is fierce, whether it’s your spouse saying you deserve better, or a co-worker commiserating on how shitty the new commission plan is, or a recruiter hitting you up on LinkedIn on how amazing a new hyper-growth startup is, these are the disctractions that justify staying comfortable in mediocrity.
Lesson 7: Edit out the noise and know that it’s ultimately your responsibility to make the best decisions for yourself.
What principles, rules, and standards do you have in place to make high-quality decisions.
Hope this helped inspire you and you’re having a relaxing week to restore and recover for a strong second half of the year.
See you next week!
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