What Do Horseracing and Sales Growth Have in Common? The Right Mindset


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What are your favorite movies? I love inspirational films like Rudy, Apollo 13 and Seabiscuit. They rise to the top because their protagonists fight the odds to succeed—not just through grit, but through courage and confidence in themselves.

The same movies also illustrate a fundamental strength of high-performing sales professionals. These individuals excel at owning their mindset.

My mother taught me that life skill when I was a child, as she struggled to raise my siblings and me after my father’s death. It would have been easy to think that the world was stacked against me, but she never let that happen. She wanted each of her children to believe in their greatness and unlimited potential.

Now I approach life with that worldview, and it has proven invaluable. In my work with thousands of companies, I’ve found that when sales professionals have the right mindset, they’re better able to elevate their own performance and that of their company.

Debunk Every Myth

Owning their mindset can be a struggle, though. Sales professionals and their leaders need to clear their heads of common, longstanding myths, such as “Great salespeople are born, not made,” “Only extroverts can succeed at sales,” and “Salespeople only care about making money.” These not only hold individuals back; they put unnecessary obstacles in their path. They spawn a series of other myths—such as “I have been assigned ‘bad’ accounts” or “I’m not capable of getting to the top.”

We’re all capable of rising, but those who do, embrace the fear that accompanies that journey. Great sales professionals know that they can grow or be comfortable, but they can’t do both. Instead of excuses and other “mythical self talk,” they are intentional about their goals, and do what it takes to reach them. That process requires:

  • Preparation: Defining and visualizing what success looks like, and then acquiring the necessary skills to get there.
  • Performance: Keeping that positive self-talk flowing and stifling the negative lays the foundation. It’s been found that that the average person has 12,000-60,000 thoughts per day, and 80% are negative, according to the National Science Foundation. It takes a consistent effort to buck that trend.
  • Perseverance, which includes embracing key disciplines, routines and habits to offset the challenges that ensue when driving towards a challenge.

Harnessing the Right Words

The right mindset clearly depends on the right words. For example, when sales professionals are asked to leverage more social media, they could simply tell themselves, “I cannot figure out LinkedIn and Instagram.” Different words, such as “I’ve learned new things before, and with time, patience, and effort I’ll get there,” will help bolster their progress.

Other components of adopting the right mindset include:

  • Accepting that failure is a requirement of eventual success, and adopting a “not yet” mentality
  • Using repetition to imprint the right long-term outlook
  • Adopting the three Bs—a belief in themselves, their products, and their company
  • Adjusting important processes, such as starting the day with a POWER hour that inspires, focuses and drives you

The sales leaders that I most admire have a sense of ownership, frequently reminding themselves, “I am responsible” for achieving every objective. When they have a positive mindset, then assuming responsibility for their own growth becomes second nature.

It all starts with how they view themselves.

Casey Cunningham
Casey Cunningham is CEO/Founder of XINNIX: The Academy of Excellence, a premier leadership and sales performance company. She founded XINNIX in 2002 to help organizations grow their businesses using proven methodologies from her years on the executive leadership team of a $4 billion firm. She is proud of XINNIX’s 25 workplace culture awards and the way her team has helped thousands of brands increase their revenues. Casey enjoys reading, traveling, fly fishing, and spending time with her husband, daughters, and two dogs.


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