Inspire a generation – Determination and Courage

When Lord Coe and the London 2012 Olympic Bid Delegation travelled to Singapore in 2005 to bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, their vision was to use the power of the Games to inspire lasting change.

Since then ‘Inspire a Generation’ has become a phrase we are all familiar with.

As a father of four who took his kids to the Olympics I can tell you they were and remain inspired. You cannot help it.

For me however the last seven days has taken my inspiration to another level. I have found the Paralympics truly awe inspiring.

Countless individuals, who have every excuse under the sun for limiting their ambitions and personal horizons on life, have stepped up and born witness to the Olympic values of Determination and Courage.

How can you not be inspired by these athletes who lacking limbs or vision, are appearing night after night on our TV screens embodying the words Determination and Courage.

Regularly we all pay good money to see Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator), Angelina Jolie (Tomb Raider) etal, fight adversity and win against all the odds but they are acting!

These Paralympians are doing this for real.

Sadly for some people it may only serve to highlight their own inadequacies, failings or weakness but there is an alternative view.

In my career I have had the fortune to work closely, sometimes managing, some of the leading names in the UK recruitment industry particularly during previous economic downturns. People who are now CEOs, COOs, MDs as well as the finest sales people of two generations now working in some of the world’s leading recruitment businesses.

I see a common quality in them that I see in these Paralympians. In fact I would say it what makes both the Paralympic medalists and our CEOs, COOs, MDs and leading sales people winners too.

For them these challenges and obstacles which the rest of us sometimes allow to limit our horizons and potential are merely hurdles to overcome.

Failure is not an option.

One of these guys once coined the phrase

‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’. Glib, perhaps it may be but as a mantra to live by it can drive you to achieve amazing results that others can only dream about.

Why is this important?

Well today I hear plenty of sales people, managers, directors and business owners bemoaning the economic conditions, the lack of fillable vacancies or limited availability of finance.

If you believe this could be true of you, find time yourself or have your team sit down and watch the performances of Sarah Storey, David Weir or Ellie Simmonds, in fact any of these amazing Paralympic athletes. Have them spend an hour watching and then have them look at the opportunity they have in their life right now.

I am sure it has hurdles and challenges. Obstacles which appear insurmountable but are they any more insurmountable than those of the Paralympians.

When I managed and coached the people who went on to become top sales people what I saw happen was on one level quite magical. As they shifted their mindset from ‘I cant’ to ‘I can do’ then the universe appeared to reward their commitment with opportunities to overcome their challenges. Yes it tested their resolve and sadly some people failed but those that went on to win never did. Even if they failed at the first attempt.

You see it is true.

‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’

Knowlson Family and Medal Winning Rowers Satch & Nash on Tower Bridge

Want to know how to win 70% of pitches?


Wouldn’t that be fantastic, impossible some say, you’re crazy cant be done. Well it can.

This summer we have seen a group of young men and women take on the best in the world and beat them 7 times out of 10. In fact, but for disqualification’s the percentage could have been higher.

At London 2012 the Team GB Cycling team won 7 gold medals and they did it in Beijing fours previously a performance that was no fluke.


Well on the final day of London 2012 Chris Brailsford went on BBC Breakfast TV and explained (BBC Article). It was not as the french said because our wheels were better, Brailsford even joked that the Team GB’s had a special quality, ‘they were round’. (True and L’Equipe did an article on it!– Click here).

No the answer was down to ‘marginal gains’.

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together,” he explained, without looking at all like the evil mastermind of a mysterious sect.

“There’s fitness and conditioning, of course, but there are other things that might seem on the periphery, like sleeping in the right position, having the same pillow when you are away and training in different places.

“Do you really know how to clean your hands? Without leaving the bits between your fingers?

“If you do things like that properly, you will get ill a little bit less.

“They’re tiny things but if you clump them together it makes a big difference.”

This concept is not totally new but the application of it at the Olympics by Team GB has seen the achievement of incredible results.

In our sales training we teach our students to seek a 1% improvement every week in everything they do. So in a year they will have improved by 52%.

So how would you do it? In sales there are thousands of variables, some you control some you don’t. The secret is to focus on those you can control.

In our experience having the right mindset is a key one.

Like Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Bradley Wiggins, Dani King or Laura Trott the mindest you have when you approach selling, to your clients, prospects or existing customers has a massive effect on your success. Hundred of books have been written on the importance of a positive mental attitude, from Norman Vincent Peal’s ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ to Rhodda Brynes ‘The Secret’ and the power of ‘attraction’.

Brailsford knew this when he was working with the Team GB Cycling Team which is why he brought in sports psychologist Steve Peters to coach the teams mental approach.

In sales we all know this but do we practice it. What do we do daily to make sure we have a positive mental out look. In most cases we are solving our clients problems with what we sell. So would you have confidence in someone solving your most challenging problems if you thought they had too many problems already? Probably not. Look at your own mindset do you portray the air of someone who is invincible or project someone beaten down by the recession.

We are living in demanding economic times I hear you say but very few of us can control the Euro-Debt Crisis or the state of the UK economy. So as sales people we need to focus on the things we can control, and to a degree ignore all the worlds problems.

When Team GB set out to take on the entire world and beat them did they look at the size of the task and give up. Just think about it. Why was their task any less challenging than yours. By their example they have shown you how to beat the entire world seven times out of 10 on two separate occasions.

Brailsford has even shown you the secret. They merely looked at their performance and then broke it down into its individual constituent parts before then setting about making sure they improved each element.

Think about your own performance. I know its a bit humbug but does drinking on a ‘school night’ really improve your performance or not? What about ‘exercise’? Its a fact but the fitter you are physically improves your ability to handle and cope with stress. Is your diet the best for you? What about the books do you read and the people you talk to?

You will notice there are some people you talk to who when you come away you feel inspired, motivated, enthused and energised. Others who drain you or take away your motivation. Sometimes you cannot avoid some of these people but you can control how you contact or approach these people and the effect they have on you. There are techniques that you can use to counteract these types of individuals or re-balance you, perhaps, even help you look differently at their behaviour so it has a positive effect on your performance.

Steve Peters and Team GB know some of them and so do those of us at Selling Success. As Master NLP Practitioners we possess a lot of this knowledge and integrate key elements of it into our training. There is however no universal panacea but working with a qualified coach you can explore which techniques work best for you.

Remember we are all different. What we are doing here is seeking to identify and work on the ‘marginal gains’ that work for you. If today you do nothing else take the opportunity to reflect on yourself, your own performance. Examine those things that have a positive effect and those that don’t. Keep a diary. What things have you done today that helped you, what have you done that didn’t.

The South African championship winning golfer, Gary Player ,used to say ‘the harder I practice the luckier I get’. Sportsman know this stuff.

So it is possible, you can win 70% of your pitches but you need to start now. Work out what are the myriad of elements that go into your performance and dedicate the rest of your career to improving them. If you need help drop us a line or give us a call, we’d love to hear from you. Continue reading “Want to know how to win 70% of pitches?”