The Importance of Defining your Intent and Believing you can Achieve It

What does it take to succeed? A lot more than a skill set and hard work.

I don't know about you, but my head's been swimming lately. I'm not sure what the exact confluence of factors is, but it's been difficult for me to slow it all down. Still, I've read three books in the past two weeks. I think that's because I treated it more or less like a homework assignment, and the lessons in each book combined to teach me a greater one in the end.

I already told you about Anthony Iannarino's new book. I also read James Muir's excellent The Perfect Close in preparation for his interview on the podcast (you should read it too). Most significantly, I finished Truthful LivingJeffrey Gitomer's annotated collection of Napoleon Hill's earliest work.

I think it's significant that I read all of these books right after one another because the lessons I took from them overlap. Eat Their Lunch raises the bar on professional salesmanship. The Perfect Close reminds you that intent matters more than technique. Truthful Living highlights the need for concentration, dedication, and persistence.

It's also worth mentioning that I read these books because I don't normally read, per se. I don't like to sit still, so I much prefer listening to audiobooks. Though I did listen to The Perfect Close while doing some work around the house, I set aside time every day to read the other two, as they were advanced copies and I didn't have much choice. That's important because it reminded me how important it is to set boundaries and dedicate time to a project.

Iannarino set a bar. James emphasizes the value of your intentions. Napoleon Hill, through Gitomer, emphasizes that those intentions need your commitment. If I reference my first paragraph above, it becomes pretty clear that I received exactly the message I needed to hear.

In sales, you get pretty good at simply keeping the ball in front of you. It always seems that there are more projects to be done than you can do at any one time, and your inbox seems to fill faster than you can get through it.

What I think few salespeople realize is that so little of what dominates their consciousness actually matters. Shiny Object Syndrome detracts from our ability to get real, meaningful work done. Email, LinkedIn messages, social media post metrics, Slack notifications... that stuff is not nearly as important as what Hill called your "chief aim in life..." It certainly does not deserve to be top of mind as often as it is.

Life (and especially selling) is about persistence, and your resilience relies on your ability to concentrate. Some rides are easier than others, but they all have bumps in the road. If you don't know where you're going, it's easy to second-guess the route, especially if you don't believe you can get there. I think belief, or lack thereof, is what lies beneath the struggle in all of this.

If you believe you're on the right path, even if you don't know the final destination, you'll stay on that path. If you believe that a goal is worth your focus, then you're not worried about taking your attention away from something else. If you believe that there are plenty of opportunities available, then the things that come up feel less urgent. The objects aren't as shiny, and you're far less susceptible to FOMO and the fear of failure.

Being afraid to fail is no way to succeed.

So what is your intent?

What is your chief aim in life or even in business this year?

Do you believe you can get there?  

Is what you're doing right now, or at any moment, contributing to it?

 Even if you haven't yet defined that chief aim or that one thing, you know enough to be able to determine whether or not the thing that has your attention matters to it. Your job is to spend more time on the stuff that doesand avoid the stuff that doesn't as much as possible.

My challenge to you is to ask yourself these questions more often.