With some surprising insight from DR Seuss!
By Tim Rooney
Selling is one of the hardest professions out there and the life of a salesman is full of disappointments.
90 % rejection is probably the norm when looking to close new business.
Studies show that the pain of rejection when looking at the brain is equal in intensity to physical pain.
So the question you may want to ask yourself is - should you welcome adversity and are the lessons to be learned from adversity?
Welcoming adversity? that sounds like a stretch doesn’t it!? Try telling that to the parents of the 20 children in shooting massacre in Sandy Hook, Newtown. In the middle of this tragedy - I was so impressed with the one father – I think his name was Harold, who speaking shortly after the tragedy was able to avoid anger and bitterness and was able to focus instead and on what the short life of his daughter Emily had meant and to find strength in that and at the same time advocate love and healing.
So I thought about that question of adversity looking back over some of my worst moments in my life and wondered if the benefits outweighed the pain? My conclusion, not surprisingly, was that while adversity was never pleasant to live through you definitely gained from it. Everyone has their own adversity story to tell. Here are a sample of my some of my "worst moments".
Let’s look for the positive lessons to be learned.
Adversity # 1
As the CEO I was fired “unfairly” after having done a decent job over nearly 5 years building a high growth company in a highly competitive market.
Adversity # 2
In my first event as the new sales and marketing manager for a global music company, I determined that we were going to have a massive launch party for media and distributors to re-launch the flagging career of Cat Stevens and his latest album Buddha and the Chocolate Box.
The event bombed badly!
Adversity # 3
“After failing all your senior school exams - your French teacher opinions to your Mum that – “your son won’t even make it as a butcher!”
So Here are My 8 Lessons Learned
Adversity and especially repeated adversity leads to stress and we all know too much stress is hardly to be recommended! That having been said - let’s take a closer look at the positive side of adversity.
Lesson # 1
“You can’t fully appreciate the sweet without tasting the sour.”
Yes this is clichéd – but it’s so true and bad times, just like the good don’t last forever.
Lesson # 2
With experience you learn acceptance of the things you can’t change and greater appreciation for what you do have.
Some things you accept are never going to be the same again and that’s okay.
There are still many things to be grateful for – in fact you very often have a greater appreciation for the many things you took for granted.
Lesson # 3
You become a bit more humble and have a better appreciation that what happens to you is sometimes beyond your control and that how you respond is the ultimate benchmark of success.
The Cat Stevens story was a good example.
This event was supposed to be “the launch party of the year” for the elite media and top retailers. Everything went wrong from the sound system not working to our belly dancer not showing-up!
As humiliating as this was – it really did not matter and if anything the people present felt sorry for me and they still had a great time!
We took our launch party to two other cities where our planning was first rate and everything ran smoothly.
Sadly the sales of the Cat Stevens album remained on a downward cliff despite our efforts!
Lesson # 4
You appreciate too, that some of your success was because others were accepting of you and gave you a 2nd chance.
Lesson # 5
Sometimes adversity can be very motivational. Failing my exams really badly as a 16 year old and being written-off by my French teacher as someone “who wouldn’t even make it as a butcher” and having my “friends” laugh at me instead of with me - caused some serious pain and a strong desire to prove them all wrong!
Lesson # 6
Sometimes we‘re part of the problem.
In the case of my “unfair” firing – with time I was able to see more clearly that I was part of the problem, as is normally the case where there are relationship issues.
Lesson # 7
There is no growth without pain and disappointment.
If you take risks and face potential adversity – you are guaranteed of one thing – the possibility of failure.
Instant success for something worthwhile is rarely achieved without failure and the disappointment that goes with it.
Lesson # 8
Perspective and inspiration.
While our own adversity is unpleasant for us, when we look at what others have endured we get a better perspective and sometimes inspiration as well.
My good friend Allan from my university days was the best man at our wedding. Allan had everything “going for him” when after his graduation he was paralyzed in a diving accident that lost him the use of his legs.
My friend adjusted remarkably well to his accident. He has always had a great sense of humour, held down a great job and is happily married.
Shortly after he married, he was at a wedding reception when someone trying to help him go down some stairs lost his balance and in the subsequent fall he broke his collar bone and was admitted to hospital where he got meningitis and nearly died.
Thankfully he survived and today has less mobility than before – but despite this, his sunny disposition and positive attitude remain the same.
Knowing I was writing this blog, I spoke to him recently and asked him about the positive side of adversity.
He was unequivocal in his response. He said – it had humbled him and made him a better person.
I admire him for that and draw inspiration at the same time.
Some additional words of wisdom from De Seuss
I had never read Dr Seuss before and the first time I heard his work was at my daughter Emma’s recent wedding ceremony, when she had two of her friends read this excerpt. I thought how brilliantly he had captured the ups and downs of life. Here’s the reading;
Oh The Places You’ll Go – by Dr Seuss
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don't worry. Don't stew. Just go right along. You'll start happening too.
OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
You'll be on your way up! You'll be seeing great sights! You'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
Except when you don't Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a Lurch.
You'll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked. A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right... or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you'll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place... ...for people just waiting. Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
NO! That's not for you! …
You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way!