How Do You Know How Strong You Are?

How do you know how strong you really are?

This is an odd question, I know, but the answer is incredibly valuable.

Toughness is not always about being able to cut a good deal. My client base is made up of entrepreneurs, sales professionals and attorneys. All of these folks have to be tough in order to achieve their goals.

Entrepreneurs face huge risk. They put their financial future on the line when they start-up a business. Their belief in themselves must be so great, it will help them overcome the desire for the safety and security of earning conservative interest investing their money in conservative financial instruments.

Sales pros face rejection every day. They keep coming back in spite of overwhelming negativity. That’s tough.

But lawyers are special.  They are ruthless negotiators. They are aggressive defenders of the United States Constitution.  They are tenacious advocates for their clients.   They will race you to the courthouse, kick your ass in the parking lot, crush you in front of the judge and take your kid’s favorite toy just to make sure you think twice about coming back.  When fear goes to sleep at night, it looks under the bed for these lawyers.

But the minute these incredibly tough people face some small sense of adversity within their law practice or their lives, everything comes unglued.

Don’t think this situation is exclusive to lawyers.  I use them as an example in this email because many of them are notoriously “tough on the outside.”  This can happen to any business leader in any industry.

Take the case of a guy we will call Bill.  He is a pit bull litigator who works with wealthy clients in Palm Beach County, Florida. He eats other attorneys for breakfast and lunch and takes on public officials for dinner.  Bill is intense, high strung, and determined to win everything from a pie eating contest to cases before the Florida Supreme Court.

Yet a couple of months ago Bill’s entire law practice fell apart.  He began missing deadlines.  The attorneys who work for him stopped send out monthly invoices to their clients.  Some of them had forgotten to keep track of exactly what work they were doing (which makes billing even more difficult). The phone went to voicemail at all hours of the day and the mail piled up on the reception desk.   In short, Bill’s law firm was a shambles.

What was the cause of this mess?

Bill’s administrative assistant quit about 90 days ago.  Even though Bill can destroy an adversary in the courtroom he is no match for adversity in his law firm.  In talking to people who know him, I learned that this has been Bill’s downfall throughout his entire career.  The administrative assistant quits and he falls behind for six months.  He goes through a nasty divorce and it takes him two years to recover.  His car is stolen and he loses a month of valuable work time trying to figure out what to do.   The slightest amount of adversity in this man’s life brings everything to a screeching halt.

While this is certainly an extreme example, it provides us with an important lesson.  As a law firm owner, you are a business owner.  The hallmark of a successful business owner is not how he handles himself and his business when things run smoothly; it is how he handles the fifteen catastrophes he faces before he has his lunch.

Things happen. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes lots of bad things happen at the same time.  You have to be able to deal with it.

What is the secret to handling adversity?

There are two key components to handling adversity.

The first component is attitude. You must accept the fact that things will go wrong in business and in life.  You can plot, plan and pray all you want but stuff is going to happen.  Your job is to deal with it, learn from it, and prevent it from happening again in the future (if possible).  Accept this reality and take care of the situation as quickly and as effectively as possible.  Then put it behind you.

The second component is a support system.  Even tough guys have people they turn to when things get crappy.  You need people in your life who will listen to you, offer you a reality check, and sometimes just be a shoulder to cry upon.   The only substitute for this is a nervous breakdown.

What can you do right now?

The action items for you on this topic are simple.

First:  Identify the people in your work and in your life who are strong.  Find people who have been through tough situations and survived or even thrived afterward.  Treasure your relationships with these folks because they are the people you call upon in tough times.

Next:  Adjust your attitude.  Convince yourself that you can handle adversity.  Think back to some of the worst times in your life and think about how you have moved on from them and become a better person because you faced them.  Remind yourself that you have the willpower and resources to handle anything life throws at you.

Once you are fortified with your army of supporters and your defiant attitude you can welcome adversity into your business and your life.  Once it gets there, kick its ass so it thinks twice about coming back.

Here are three additional resources you can use to continue to develop your mental toughness:

Sales Success is in Your Head

The most important aspect of sales is right between your ears. This article will help you focus on the most important thing in sales – your attitude.

Sales Shall Set You Free

The process most people use to grow revenue is painful and arduous. I have a better way. Listen to this episode of the 60 Second Sales Show and discover how sales can empower you to take control of your future.

Big Revenue Does Not Always Mean Big Risk

There are ways to limit sales risk. This article helps you make calculated choices that help you win while protecting your self-esteem.