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Practice Management > Building Your Business > Leadership

5 Sales and Leadership Lessons from Edison

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Confession time: I get a little bit annoyed when people tell me, “Marvin, you’re working too hard” or “Marvin, you’re working all the time — don’t you ever take some down time?” or “Marvin, you’re a workaholic.”

Usually these questions are coming from someone who is employed by someone else and enjoying all that “free time” on someone else’s payroll. 

And this type of person is usually — no coincidence, as you’ll see shortly — classified in my mind as a non-dreamer, meaning that they are probably going nowhere in their job, their leadership role, or their sales career.

One dreamer who can teach us a lot about both leadership and sales is Thomas Edison. Consider these life and work truths.

1. Consider the source.

Is the advice you’re getting from the non-sales pros and non-leaders enough to get you where you want to go in your sales and leadership career? Probably not.

Once you consider the source, is it even worth listening to them? Again, my guess would be no.

2. The more juice you put in, the longer you burn.

Thomas Edison lived from 1847-1931. My LSU math tells me he lived to be around 84 years old. Most people don’t know that Thomas Edison was not only an inventor, he was also a great salesman. It was not unusual for Edison to work more than 40 hours straight. As in 40 hours without sleep — without a break — and without any loss of energy or enthusiasm for pursuing his goal of the moment. These bursts of creativity and accomplishment happened because he knew how to drive himself to maximum productivity and didn’t pay a bit of attention to the conventional wisdom that might have suggested putting something off until the morning!

3. Resting is overrated.

Notice how long Edison lived. Contrary to popular belief, the reason he lived that long may have been because he worked instead of resting. The whole concept behind resting is overrated. Don’t buy into the myth that work kills — it just ain’t so. Excessive resting is overrated. I can prove it to you. When you get home, lay down flat for five straight days. On the sixth day, there’s a good chance you’ll need to be admitted to a hospital, due to a whole host of newly created illnesses. 

4. Work doesn’t kill you — uninspired work does!

Here’s the point: What kills a person is unfulfilled work. What kills a person is uninspired work. And lastly, nothing kills faster than indecision, laziness, mediocrity and the attitude of entitlement. 

5. It’s not about you, darlin’.

If you spend a lot of time focusing on yourself and not focusing on the benefit that you can share with your clients, colleagues, prospects and partners, you are going to be unfulfilled. If you spend all your time chasing the almighty dollar and forget to be significant in other people’s lives, you’ll lose both races. If you spend too much time on yourself, you may find yourself getting lazy. Don’t fall for it. Avoid mediocrity. Stay away from the attitudes of entitlement. The things that are going to matter for you most, marvelous people, are the things that you have to struggle with and work hard for. 

Here’s the final lesson from Edison: Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait. Forget your success and focus on your significance. 

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