Chapter 5. The "At-Leaster" Phenomenon

Brian Azar

The Sales Catalyst

If you've ever watched the opening of ABC's Wide World of Sports, then you've seen the winning runner break through the finish line, arms upraised in triumph, elated by the "thrill of victory." Of course, you've also seen the championship skier as he miscalculates and goes tumbling down the slopes into the "agony of defeat."

Victory and defeat. Winning and losing. Good and bad. All similar concepts—right? The thing is, both these people are winners. Why? Because only winners enter the race in the first place.

Whether it's business, professional life, athletics—or even love— only those who are ready to risk losing, willing to accept the consequences, and able to profit from their losses will ever know the taste of victory.

The risk involved in becoming a winner is a tall order for a salesperson, and the reason so many sales forces are suffering is not that they don't have winners on their teams, but because too many of their players won't enter the race. While the "thrill of victory" is undeniably seductive, the "agony of defeat" is often more intimidating.

Just what makes the fear of losing so immobilizing? The reasons are buried in our social conscience, where attitudes we hardly understand and barely acknowledge shape our thinking and actions. Perhaps the most powerful mixed message we receive as children is the belief we hold about winning and losing. "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game," ...

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