So Here’s the Deal: Episode 19
3 Keys to Professional Growth
Our question this month comes from Damon in southern Illinois, home of Vulture Fest — a celebration of the vultures’ annual migration in Makanda, IL. When them babies are circling overhead, you know it’s a festive time! Damon asks,
I’ve been in finance for slightly more than 15 years. I feel like I’ve been fairly successful, but I want to grow. What are three key things I need to do to continue to grow in this business?
Great question, Damon. Successful lives and successful careers all have one thing in common: They’re built on a strong foundation. In the 1991 movie “City Slickers,” there is a scene in which Billy Crystal’s character Mitch, who’s having a mid-life crisis, is on a cattle drive with a crusty old trail boss named Curly, played by Jack Palance. Curly asks Mitch, “Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that, and everything else don’t mean nothing.” Mitch then asks what the one thing is, to which Curly replies, “That’s what you got to figure out.”
Successful people all have that “one thing” in common: a core set of values. Having the right values and understanding what is and isn’t important in life gives you a strong sense of purpose, which we all need as a foundation for the daily decisions we must make.
Professional growth and long-term success is never built upon a haphazard process that’s been slapped together on a shallow foundation of knowledge and constructed on shifting ethical sands. Continued growth and extraordinary success in any endeavor requires short- and long-term goals, a plan to achieve those goals, and daily actions built upon a foundation of rock-solid values.
This is the foundation on which you must build your career, because achievement without values is ultimately self-destructive. But when your values are clear, your daily decisions and actions become clear. And whatever level of success you desire, it requires doing the best you can possibly do where you’re at right now.
What that means is you must focus on what you can control, namely your knowledge and preparedness to help that next customer. You may have little control over how many cars are sold every month. You have little or no control over what the salespeople or sales managers do. You have no control over your finance source’s guidelines and rates. And you certainly can’t control customer needs, the amount of cash they have to put down, or their objections to your products.
However, you do have control over your own preparation, and that’s what you must focus on every day. Your growth as a professional requires constantly improving your product knowledge, your needs-discovery, your listening and your consultative selling skills. A professional never graduates from the school of learning, and one of your best teachers is when you fail to sell a product to a customer who needs it. When that happens, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? Why was I unable to help this customer? What do I need to do so that next time I’m able to overcome their objection and help them see the value of my products?”
Finally, choose to be positive. Positive thinking creates a positive life, which leads to professional growth, happiness, and success. It also allows you to cope more easily with your daily trials and tribulations. It brings optimism into your life, and makes it easier to avoid worries and negative thinking. A negative attitude says you cannot achieve success, and provides excuses for failure. A positive attitude says you can achieve success, and allows you to view every challenge as another opportunity for success.
A positive attitude helps you reach goals and attain success. It increases your faith in your talent and abilities, and creates hope for a brighter future. More importantly, it’s contagious. Customers are more likely to buy from us, and family and friends want to be around us. Whatever the challenge, a positive, can-do attitude is essential for your continued growth as a professional. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”