Sell More: Let Go of the Past

Let go of the past and you sell more.

During my freshman year of college I had the good fortune to share a dorm room with a 35 year old former fireman from Brooklyn.  This guy, named Tony, lived the equivalent of three lifetimes before I met him (including one as a semi-tough guy working with some serious people back home). But at 35 he wanted a fresh start so he enrolled in college. (Maybe he was hiding out but I was only 18, so I thought he was cool).

It was a huge benefit to have Tony as a friend during my first year away from home.  The education I received from him was more valuable than anything I learned from my professors.   It was multifaceted.  Tony helped me with knowledge in a number of important areas.

There was the historical education which included the reasoning behind putting three coffee beans in a glass of Sambuca.

There was the social education which included the reason why you look a woman directly in the eye when you are having a conversation with her.

There was the moral education which included always defending friends when someone speaks ill of them (even if your friends are complete idiots).

But the most valuable lessons I learned from Tony were the lessons about self-awareness.   Nobody was more comfortable in his own skin than this guy.  After all, a 35 year old guy entering college for the first time, living in a dorm with kids 15 years younger than him had to be pretty self-aware.

The true golden nugget of learning from Tony was something I affectionately call: Fuhgeddaboudit

This is the phonetic spelling.

This particular phrase has been picked apart and stereotyped by every modern gangster movie as an Italian colloquialism, which it is. But it has legitimate meaning to those who understand its proper usage.

Back in college I was prone to saying stupid things. Although I still have this nasty little habit, as a mature adult, I can, for the most part, control it.  But in college I would just let fly with the first thing that came into my head.  Most often, those thoughts were inappropriate.

Interestingly enough, the problem for me was never what I said; rather it was the mental anguish I put myself through after I said these things.  For days, sometimes even weeks, I would agonize over my own stupid comments.  I would re-run the incident in my head, over and over.

Finally, after seeing me go through this ridiculous behavior a few times, Tony pulled me aside.  He explained to me that most people would forget the things I said, even the really stupid stuff, after a few days.  He said I was the only person actually bothered by those statements and/or actions.

“Fuhgeddaboudit” Tony would say with a smile when I told him the latest idiotic predicament I had gotten myself into.

And gradually, over the years, I’ve learned to make this behavior a habit.  Today, whenever I make a mistake, particularly one that costs me money, I picture Tony sitting in his chair back in the cramped dorm room.  He’s smiling.  Then he takes a sip of the sweet nectar from Rome, sets his glass down and says, “Fuhgeddaboudit”.

It takes practice. But it is a habit well worth learning.

Today I still look women right in the eye when I speak with them.  I still drink my Sambuca with three coffee beans.  And, more often than I care to admit, I take Tony’s advice and put my mistakes behind me.

The future is too important to allow the past to prevent it from happening.