In many great stories about quests, mystics, and advice, a similar theme can be seen.
The better guide is not the one who gives you the answers, but rather the one who shows you the path you need to walk in order to find the answers yourself.
THE “GOOD GUYS” POINT THE WAY
Remember in the movie The Matrix, what Morpheus told to Neo before meeting The Oracle for the first time?
“I can only show you the door; you’re the one that has to walk through it.”
Here is the 13-second clip in case you forgot…
Or perhaps you prefer a Star Wars reference – like when Luke was trying to destroy the Death Star, and Obi-Wan tells him simply:
“Use The Force, Luke.”
He didn’t give him a detailed plan, but rather pointed him in a direction, and let him take it from there using his own interpretation of the best way to go forward.
Here’s that clip in case you are feeling the need to relive the moment now:
Success in sales will come like that.
You will need to learn many things, but no-one can tell you what to do moment by moment. You need to internalize the lessons as if they become a part of who you are. In this way, they will be there when you need them in a conversation with a prospect or a customer. Preferably, a conversation in which you are present, open, knowledgeable, and real.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE “BAD GUYS”
Now contrast the approach of Obi-Wan and Morpheus with their “bad guy” counterparts, Darth Vader and Agent Smith. Smith and Vader have a way of communicating and persuading that feels a lot more like an iron clad dictation. Their way is presented as the only way – and the absolutely correct way – to think about something rather than as a more open suggestion.
For example, Darth Vader meets Luke in part six, and as Luke tries to convince Darth Vader to reform, Vader says:
“You don’t know the power of the dark side. I must obey my master.”
Not a lot of self-determination or free will there – gotta follow the plan as it was told to him, and look where it gets him.
Here’s the clip:
Or Agent Smith – after so many calculations, explorations and so much scientific-sounding reasoning, he still couldn’t win against the scrappy humans who mostly played it by ear (after a lot of training, discipline and with a clear but flexible plan).
The Matrix clip is here:
SO WHAT IS THE PATH AND HOW CAN YOU WALK IT?
For all of you highly detailed movie fans, these are probably not perfect analogies, but in spite of that – let’s consider what all of this means for those who want to improve at sales – or most anything that takes some independent thought.
So here it is…
No one can walk the path for you, or take the steps for you, but you can and should find people to give you ideas and help you comprehend your journey as you go.
…but take care when you choose your mentors – whether they are your boss, a coach, a book, an online content creator or any other source of information.
The best ones are going to help you find your own answers. Take care with the ones who try tell you exactly what to do.
Take extra care with those who tell you that success for you will come from doing the same things they did. We’re all different. Your mentor needs to get that, or it will be all downhill from there.
If you really want to improve at sales or anything else, start by understanding this important distinction. You do have to walk the path for yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.
Choose your companions wisely.