Recently, a very close friend referred to me as “David Downer,” referring to the SNL character Debbie Downer. While I suspect the comment was largely made in jest, with every joke there is a certain element of truth.
It caused me to reflect, am I being too negative?
I’m often very critical of how we, sellers and leaders, behave. Recently, I wrote a scathing post on leadership and layoffs. I called out management failure. Often, I’m very hard on our endless fascination with miracle cures, wishful thinking, and new tricks. In many of my private conversations, and perhaps some public, I am vocal about what seems too often to be a commitment to mediocrity rather than excellence.
I’m not apologetic about those positions, I stand by them.
While very critical, I don’t mean them to be negative. If anything, I intend them to be more calls to action about how we can improve, how we must constantly be driven to get better–both for ourselves, as professionals, our colleagues, our companies, and, most importantly, our customers.
Many readers may not have observed this, but my blog site has always carried the title, “Making A Difference….” One of the reasons I take such great pride in being in Sales, is that I can think of no role in business where one can have such a great impact and Make A Difference.
The success of our companies/organizations, the success of our customers, our abilities to help others grow, achieve, and thrive is stunning. When I reflect on the many great people I have worked with, the great conversations I’ve had, I feel deeply privileged to be in Selling.
At the same time, I tend to have very high expectations. We can and must constantly learn and improve. We must challenge ourselves and those we work with to constantly innovate, change, and grow. If we don’t, we not only fail ourselves, but those we have the privilege to serve.
We make mistakes, sometimes tragic. But those are part of our growth process.
I’ve been very hard on leadership, particularly as I look at some of the reductions and layoffs. But, I have directed layoffs of thousands of people, either as an executive or as an advisor to clients. With each one, I feel deep remorse, I’m impacting the lives not only of the individuals, but also of their families. And it’s largely not their fault. As a leader, I may have made errors/mistakes. Perhaps a bad strategy, insufficient planning or support, insufficient investments. There are things, that may have been outside my control, but as a leader I am responsible for the actions we have to take–and their impact on others. So while I’m critical, it’s often driven by the mistakes I have made as a leader.
As a seller, I have and continue to struggle. I sometimes take short-cuts, engage in wishful thinking. Prospecting is a challenge for everyone. Managing deals effectively, engaging customers/clients creating value, requires each of us to be at the top of our games. And I have, often, not been at the top of mine. So the critiques I make of sellers comes from what I have learned from my own failures.
But, as I mentioned, mistakes and failure is part of our growth. We will make them–though we should strive never to make the same mistake more than once. We must learn from them and grow. We must own the mistakes each of us make and not find excuses and blame others.
We can and have the opportunity to have such an important impact. We can and must Make A Difference!
I apologize if I seem to be too negative, that isn’t my intent. I need to learn how to start expressing myself as the glass is half full, rather than half empty. I appreciate those of you who have called that too my attention and hope to do better.
But I do hope each of us in selling and leadership understands how important what we do is, how great the impact we can have within our organizations and customers. How each of us can Make A Difference.
While “we” seem to face great challenges from the economy, the pace of change, changing buyer behaviors, VUCA, and so many other things; I am so optimistic about the future of selling. And I see so many that share that view and are driving important changes in their organizations and in the profession.
Thanks for your patience as I struggle to learn and improve.
Leave a Reply