Don’t let other people define you.
You can achieve success on your own terms.
Check out the evaluation of Tom Brady by NFL scouts prior to the NFL draft in 2000.
“Poor build, Skinny, lacks great physical stature and arm strength, Lacks mobility and the ability to avoid the rush, lacks a really strong arm, Can’t drive the ball downfield, Does not throw a really tight spiral, System-type player who can get exposed if forced to ad-lib. Gets knocked down easily.”
198 players were selected by NFL teams prior to Brady being selected by the Patriots. Six quarterbacks were drafted by other NFL teams before the Patriots chose Brady in the 6th round.
Even Bill Belichick, who drafted Brady, was seemingly lukewarm about his potential, calling Brady “top value” among the talent still available at that late stage in the draft.
Success was not guaranteed. Brady was 4th on the depth chart at QB in his rookie season. NFL teams rarely keep four QBs on their rosters so his position was precarious.
But Brady believed in himself. He worked hard. And, he was prepared to take advantage of the opportunity to succeed when it came, on Sept 23, 2001 2001, when he came into the game for Drew Bledsoe, the starting QB at the time for the Patriots, who had been badly injured.
The rest is history.
Imagine what would have happened had Brady listened to the “experts” who thought he possessed limited potential to succeed? Even some of his teammates his first year on the Patriots thought that if he worked hard he might be able to have a career as a back-up QB. (Lazy sales managers call those B or C players.)
Now, 20 years later, Brady arguably is the greatest QB to have ever played football. And, at age 43, he intends to keep on playing.
As he has done throughout his career, Brady continues to invest in himself to ensure that he can perform at the top of his game. His attention to detail about his nutrition, fitness, sleep, recovery, study habits, skills and technique is unrelenting.
Brady has had to adapt and evolve because the game had evolved. Over the course of his career, NFL athletes have become bigger, faster and stronger. The offenses and defenses have become more sophisticated.
And, that, is the real story. And the lesson here for sellers at all levels and at all stages of their careers. Success comes at a price. You have to work doubly hard to prove your doubters wrong. And you have to follow your own instincts about what will work best for you. Even if it steps on a few toes. (Remember when Brady was harshly criticized for hiring his own trainer?)
At the beginning of your career this requires self-belief, focus and a commitment to invest whatever is required to learn how to win.
Over time it requires continuous investment, and re-investment, in the behaviors, habits and skills that will enable you to keep succeeding in sales environments that are inevitably changing.
Just like sales, the NFL is a hard business. There are no guaranteed contracts. You perform or find another line of work. And, even stars can find their careers coming to a quick, unceremonious end when their performance drops off.
Bestselling author of Amp Up your Sales and Zero Time Selling, Andy Paul is #8 on LinkedIn’s list of the Top 50 Global Sales Experts to follow. With more than 170,000 followers, Andy is a highly sought-after speaker and sales sage who interviews the world’s foremost sales minds and extraordinarily interesting people to bring you strategies and insights that you can use to generate epic wins and massive value.