Selling in the Present (Issue 596)

In which we are encouraged to open new capacity and capability by letting go of the past.

Here in the USA, the end of year holiday season begins this coming Thanksgiving Thursday, a day when any right-thinking turkey makes itself scarce. We have not seen the flock of wild turkeys that usually collect in our garden about this time of year, so we guess they got the message from headquarters to stay high in the trees.

At our house, the holidays bring back memories of long movie marathons with our then much younger children, one of the favorites of which was “The Lion King.”  Favorite scenes include the character setting Scar in “Life’s Not Fair,” the late in film “Hawaiian War Chant,”  and the obvious and provocative turning point, “The Past Can Hurt:”

Simba, son of the several years deceased King Mufasa, a Hakuna Matata run-a-way following his father’s death, now a young adult lion, sits on the veldt, troubled about his “no worries” path in life and his rising awareness of his duty to assume his role as Mufasa’s successor. Staring skyward, he notices lightning in the sky. Rafiki, the baboon zen master, approaches from behind him.

Rafiki – (laughing) What was that? The weather. Very peculiar. Don’t you think?

Simba – (Looking skyward, sniffing the breeze) Looks like the winds are changing.

Rafiki – Change is good

Simba – Yeah, but it’s not easy.  I know what I have to do but going back means I have to face my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.

Rafiki – (Whacks Simba, hard, on his head with his stick.)

Simba – Ow! Geez! What was that for?

Rafiki – It doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.

Simba – (Rubbing his head) Yeah, but it still hurts

Rafiki – Oh yes, the past..can… hurt. But, the way I see it, you can either run from it… or… learn from it.

OK, Nick, where are you going with this one?

In an earlier time, as a young and developing consultant, I crashed and burned badly on several occasions. Training accidents. No details…  I’ll just say lessons well learned, threats to survival long remembered.

In a meeting earlier this year, one of the client participants evoked the memory of a senior banker with whom I committed one of those crash-and-burns and the post-crash hurt dance he did on me. Unbelievably, memory evoked, I experienced the same physical sensations and thoughts I’d experienced in the moment years before. The past still hurts.

So, as we prepare for or begin our new sales years,  an opportunity to inventory and reflect on  any pasts that still hurt and to (as Pumba the warthog says in the movie), “…put [our] behind in [our] past.” Take deep breaths, refresh the lessons, forgive ourselves for our accidents, and sell in the present rather than the past.


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