You are the essence of your reactions and your responses

July 19, 2010
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My tweet today was: “Resilience doesn’t start with experience, it starts with attitude — your attitude.”

It received more than 100 re-tweets. Evidently, people understood what I was saying and chose to tell others. But since Twitter only allows 120 characters, I wanted to elaborate on the word “resilience,” because it has a much deeper meaning than I was able to provide in one tweet.

Picture this: Your boss says, “Make 100 cold calls this week.” And the first 20 people you call hang up on you.

Picture this: You have one prospect left this month and if they don’t buy, you don’t make your quota. They call you and say, “We’ve decided to buy from your competition.”

Picture this: You get an e-mail from your boss telling you that they’ve revised the comp plan and unless you do 20 percent more, you’ll earn 20 percent less.

Picture this: You finally get an appointment with the biggest prospective client you’ve ever had, agreeing to see you for one hour. You arrive and the decision-maker doesn’t show up.

Those are all real-world sales occurrences that every one of you has experienced.

Resilience is how you react, respond and recover from those situations.

It’s important to note that all of these challenges test your mental strength. Resilience starts with your own strength of attitude. If you are easily dismayed or your self-confidence level is low, or if your self-esteem is lacking or self-image is in doubt, then each of the “picture this” circumstances listed above is seen as a disaster. Your resilience level (on a 1-100 scale) is below 10.

And the ground between 10 and 100 is where your experience, combined with your self-education, is called into play. Attitude resilience challenges your thought process to get from a negative response of “woe is me” to a positive response of “I can deal with this. I can overcome this. I have some ideas that will help me. Here are the actions that I’m willing to take things better.” And most important: “I’m not going to let these events or situations cause me to think ill of myself, or put myself down.”

And keep in mind that this is just the reaction part of resilience.

Once you’ve processed each one of these circumstances and reacted to them mentally, now it’s time to respond to them. Your response is a combination of your attitude, your past experience and your resilience: your inner strength manifesting itself in words and deeds.

Most people fail to understand that response is triggered by thought. If you want to use the term “knee-jerk response,” it normally means responding without thinking, especially in negative situations.

Each one of you has experienced a dumb response, something like: “I’m doing the best I can,” or “I’m just doing what I’ve been told,” or some response that’s excuse-based rather than response-based.

Anyone can make an excuse. It takes a person of character to figure out what they can do, be in control of their own emotions, think quickly on their feet and come up with something that is forward-moving rather than self-defeating.

It takes a person of character to come up with a response that’s on the offense rather than being offensive; something that states willingness rather than creates a defense; something that says what you can do, not what you can’t do; something that states what could happen, rather than restates what just happened.

And keep in mind that this is just the response part of resilience.

Now it’s time for your resilience to really shine. You’ve reacted in a positive way, you’ve responded in a positive way, and now you must recover in a personal way — not just with the people involved, but rather taking stock of who you are as a person, and taking the lesson in how this will help build you and build your character instead of looking around to see who is to blame, becoming defensive, or making some lame excuse about it or they — never taking responsibility for you.

Recovery lays the groundwork for the next reaction. Recovery after recovery builds the foundation of your resilience. Positive recovery after positive recovery builds a foundation of cement and concrete reinforced with steel rods.

You build your stature, you build your self-esteem, you build your self-reliance, you build your self-confidence — and you do it with inner strength combined with mental strength. You can call it fortitude or you can call it guts, but I’m challenging you to think of it as resilience — because it’s going to happen more than once.

So I’ve given you react, respond and recover. Let me add a .5 to this list of three: integrity. Every time an opportunity arises, every time your character or your attitude is challenged and you react, respond and recover in a positive way, you build personal integrity for who you are and who you seek to become.

You never have to talk about it. Others will see it and see that strength within you. Others will talk about you in a positive way and admire you in a verbal and silent way — and others will seek to follow you in an exemplary way.

Well, I seem to have used up my 120 characters. On a personal note, I’ll confess that my resilience is challenged daily — not only as a salesperson or as a businessperson, but also as a father, a grandfather and a friend.

Resilience knows no boundaries. But every time an opportunity arises to build mine, I eagerly welcome it and all the lessons attached thereto.

I hope you do the same.

Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com

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