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Reframe your failures

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Sales is a tough job. Everyone in the company knows how you’re doing at all times. When you hit a slump, everyone’s aware. People who work in marketing, IT or HR have no idea how challenging it is to learn, grow and stumble in full view of an entire company.

How fear changes your sales performance

The underbelly of sales is fear. Virtually every seller I know goes through bouts of it, and your success is contingent on how you handle it. Your brain responds to fear whether the threat be a sales presentation or a saber-toothed tiger. It can’t tell the difference.

Fear immediately hijacks your thinking. Suddenly, you can’t remember things. You can’t think of new ideas. You’re stumped and headed toward a downward spiral. Not good!

How “cognitive reappraisal” works

In Agile Selling, I share numerous ways to deal with this anxiety. One of my favorite tactics is to reframe a situation — to detach from it and see it from a different perspective. Research by experts in the field of psychology call this strategy “cognitive reappraisal,” and it truly does work.

How I reframe my failures

Over the years, I’ve been accused many times of looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Despite the challenges I’ve faced (and I’ve definitely had my share), I’ve chosen to find the upside of a situation and the opportunities it presents.

The strategy that consistently works the best for me is to reframe my failures as “valuable learning experiences.” When things go wrong, I step back and ask myself questions such as, “What did I learn?” “Where did things start going wrong?” “Did I miss something?” or “How could I have done things differently?”

In short, I minimize the mind-numbing fear and reclaim my brain: “I’m not a loser,” “I didn’t screw up again.” Instead, I consider a failure an opportunity to get better, to learn new things and grow.

At first, it’s a challenge to learn to think this way. You have to stop fear in its tracks and tell yourself, “You’re not a failure. You just haven’t done it right — yet.” Over time, this way of thinking becomes second nature.

Think about it: Reframing failure into the valuable learning experience that it is changes everything. And it’s what can help you pull out of your slump and rise to the top of your company’s leader board.

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