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Sit, stay, sell

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Like a great many people, Lola cannot do some of the things she’d like to do. Sometimes she can’t go into the hall. Sometimes she can’t go through the door to the backyard. Sometimes she can’t lie on the couch. Sometimes she can’t eat certain foods.

But Lola is not limited in these things because she is incapable of doing them. Rather she has made up rules that prohibit her from doing this or going there or eating that.

I’ve spent years counseling sellers against putting roadblocks in front of themselves that prevent them from achieving their goals. Many of these men and women learn to see and overcome these self-imposed obstacles.

Still others don’t, usually because they don’t believe they have consciously or unconsciously prevented themselves from achieving a goal. Often they believe that something external is hindering them, since no one would prevent herself from doing something she clearly wanted to do.

For years I’ve looked for clear examples of how self-limiting beliefs work. I’ve certainly seen people recognize a self-limiting belief and then eliminate it. But usually the example isn’t crystal clear. There are always alternate explanations for what has happened.

And then along came Lola. She is the finest example of self-limiting beliefs I’ve ever seen, primarily because she has so many about so many different things.

Lola is a big, beautiful, healthy Golden Retriever. She’s a sweet and extremely polite dog. She won’t enter a room unless invited, and she won’t eat her dinner until everyone is seated at the dinner table (even though her bowl is in the den). She loves it when I get on the floor and wrestle with her, and she never fails to try to nurse my bleeding wounds afterward. (She likes to play rough.)

At one time, she couldn’t get into her bed — she decided she couldn’t step up the 10 inches or so to get into it. She could jump into the car with no problem, she could jump up and down the retaining wall in the backyard without a problem, she could jump any place she wanted, but she couldn’t step up 10 inches to get into bed.

She is, of course, perfectly capable of doing this and all the other things she stops herself from doing, but she has convinced herself that she either can’t or isn’t allowed to do them. The strength of her beliefs is so forceful that it overpowers her.

You may be thinking that this nutty dog seriously needs to see a dog shrink. Maybe she does, but she’s no different than us humans (especially most sellers). The only difference perhaps is that we are a bit more sophisticated in the ways we hinder ourselves. But we can overcome our self-inflicted roadblocks the same way Lola does — by learning that the roadblock doesn’t really exist.

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Paul McCord is a best-selling author, speaker and leading authority on lead generation. He has more than 20 years’ experience coaching and mentoring salespeople. For more information, go to


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