Good Advice About Making Your Work Worth It

Occasionally, I like to share famous (or not-so-famous) quotes that seem to offer unique or interesting wisdom we can use in how we conduct our business and our sales process. When I read a quote that inspires me, I (at least for a while) can take a different perspective on how I spend each day and, I hope, make better choices.

The list below includes quotes from a broad assortment of poets, business types, philosophers, politicians, plus one pint-sized movie character and, of course, a race car driver. Who knows, he might be the perfect guy to help you stop going around in circles at work. Enjoy. 

1. “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

I really don’t think he’s encouraging you to drive recklessly. But I think his comment might help you relax a bit when things at your company are not hitting on all cylinders. If every aspect were safe and comfy, that would probably mean you weren’t anywhere near the level of productivity and innovation you’d like. You’ve got to push the envelope a little. And enjoy the ride.

2. “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson

From your sales process to your relationships, you’ve heard that attitude is everything. Thomas Jefferson clearly agreed. With the right attitude, obstacles are just the predictable pebbles in the road, you keep moving in the right direction. With the wrong one, the negatives always outweigh the positives, and old problems always seem bigger than new approaches to solving them. You’ll tread water forever.

3. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Stephen Covey

The late business visionary, Stephen Covey, had some Thomas Jefferson in him. This one has a little note of “suck it up” in it. Think of the people you’ve heard complain about a lousy job, an unfair promotion decision, an ineffective sales process, an unreasonable policy, etc. Covey is simply pointing out the obvious but difficult-to-hear truth. Your decisions got you to where you are. Own your situation, and realize that your decisions are the only things that will improve it, one way or another.

4. “What we fear of doing most is usually what we most need to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I really like this one, because I think it provides a little more “tough love.” Most human beings dislike stress, drama, risk and discomfort. So many times we tend to tackle short, easy projects to get them off the list before the longer, more important ones. We put off important conversations because we expect them to be unpleasant. While it’s understandable, all those tactics really do is delay the most critical tasks and avoid issues that need to be resolved before we can move forward.

Tackling the projects, concerns and interpersonal matters most vital to your company is clearly the only way forward. Not doing so should really be your greatest fear.

5. “If I had nine hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first six sharpening my ax.” – Abraham Lincoln

The “rail-splitter” ought to know. I see this quote as a business metaphor for planning. We can sometimes be so eager to “do business” we don’t do a proper job of assessing a client’s needs, or considering all aspects of the situation so that we maximize quality and efficiency. As a result, we waste and redo a lot of valuable work. Time spent strategizing upfront can make a dramatic difference in profitability, client satisfaction and business success. Honest!

6. “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, “The Empire Strikes Back”

Okay, this one is a little out there, so to speak. It sounds a little harsh when applied to business matters when there are always plenty of excuses and justifications. But it’s good to remember the absolute costs of failure, as seen through the eyes of a Jedi who must preserve a civilization. The company gains little from maintaining data on how hard you tried, or how unfair the result appeared to be. It matters little how cool you looked in the lightsaber battle if you ultimately lost it. Sure of this, I am.

7. “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”  – Robert Louis Stevenson

This sounds a bit soft, but to me, it has a very real application to your business day. If you judge each day merely by the big contracts you finally won, or the profit that dropped to the bottom line, you might be selling yourself short. Chances are, you tended a great many gardens today that will, at other times, bear fruit. Moving projects along to completion, launching new initiatives, even encouraging or helping an associate during your workday are critical. Those “seeds” are likely to pay even bigger dividends down the road and you have had a great day.

8. “The best way out is always through.” – Robert Frost

This is one of my favorites. We spend a lot of valuable business time beating around the bush, taking ineffective half-measures or evading a problem. Most of the time, those efforts prove useless, and we wind up having to use a more direct approach in the end, anyway. Don’t delay—deal with it. Now.

9. “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” – Benjamin Franklin

This one fits with the last quote, in my mind, especially when it comes to dealing with other people. Honest and straightforward relationships work best at the office. If some aspect of a project, or even a personal interaction, was not handled well, it can certainly merit an apology. But too often people want to justify or rationalize their behavior just a bit, so it doesn’t seem quite so bad or inappropriate. Don’t do it. If it’s an excuse at all, it’s not really an apology. And all the good a sincere apology could have done will be lost.

10. “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.

A long one and I saved this for last because it addresses a flaw we’re all guilty of. We’ve all made the excuse that we’re too busy, we just don’t have enough time to accomplish what we feel we should. Stop it. All the famous achievers in history faced the same limitations. They didn’t enjoy 36-hour days or 9-day weeks. There may be many explanations for less-than-ideal results. In fact, time management might well be a big factor. But blaming a lack of time is a pretty shallow one.

We’d Like to Inspire You on a Regular Basis

We know that inspiration is vital for business people to achieve their ultimate goals. In fact, if you don’t think inspiration matters in the sales process, stayed tuned for my next post. In the meantime, why not sign up for our Superior newsletter? I think you’ll find some wise words there that could help your sales process regularly.

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