Negative self-talk: A sales lesson from the elephant and the flea

Myers Barnes new home sales lessonHow’s your sales performance? If you’ve been stagnating with gaining new home sales, it’s not necessarily the housing market and interest rates to blame. What’s really limiting your progress? It’s probably negative self-talk. Here’s a sales lesson from the elephant and the flea that’s worth your consideration.

When a baby elephant is first placed in a circus, the trainer ties a small rope around its leg and tethers it to a pole to keep it from running away. If the elephant strains to get free, the rope is still strong enough to hold the young animal. The youthful bravado—or is it stubbornness?—keeps that elephant tugging at the rope. Still, it’s immovable.

As the elephant matures, the trainer doesn’t adjust the size of the rope. They don’t have to.  By that point, the elephant has become conditioned to believe that it cannot break away so it no longer tries.

If you put a handful of fleas in a jar and screw on the lid, they will keep jumping against the lid to try to get out. However, after a few minutes, the bugs are tired. They’ve accepted the reality that they’re not breaking through that barrier. If you remove the lid after their will is exhausted, the fleas remain in the jar. Like the elephants, they are conditioned to their confinement and no longer test their boundaries.

Keep testing your limits.

Have previous failures doused your enthusiasm and capped your confidence? Are you conditioned to accept imaginary boundaries? Have you exhausted your will to keep pushing?

Yes, we’re experiencing challenges with this housing market. We have been for over a year. You either rely on resilience to free yourself from the tether or choose a different career.

But if you do, you will still be limited by your negative thoughts and beliefs.

Are you distorting your reality with negative self-talk?

Negative self-talk will cause you to accept things you shouldn’t. The elephant, for example, didn’t realize the strength of its own power that came with its growth. The fleas accepted their fate and failed to see the opening when it came.

The psychology of negative thinking patterns has produced a list of cognitive distortions. Maybe you’re an all-or-nothing thinker who believes, “I’ll never reach my goals” or someone handicapped by a mental filter that causes you to jump right into negative thinking. Someone offers a compliment, like “Hey, good job on that presentation” and you reply, “I should have prepared better.” Or you catastrophize: “This housing market isn’t going to improve.” Maybe you suffer from personalization, taking on all the blame: “I’m the one holding everyone back.”

There are many types of cognitive distortions—all of them unhealthy. And if you cave into any of these negative thinking patterns, your failure in new home sales is a foregone conclusion. 

The best way to combat cognitive distortions and negative self-talk is to start with recognizing them. Where does your focus take you? Make an effort to catch yourself when your mind strays to the negative.

Instead of “No one is buying in this market”, ask yourself, “What can I do to better influence uncertain buyers right now?”

Rather than assume others are just better at new home sales, become better. Read, seek mentors, take advantage of sales training—online, virtual, or in-person. Go to LinkedIn and reach out to people who are maximizing their opportunities. Believe me, the homebuilding community is filled with people who are willing to offer helpful advice!

The interest rates aren’t in the way of your success. The uncertainty of today’s homebuyers is not in your way. Free yourself from the ties that hold you back. Look for the opportunities to break free.

There are no limits outside of your own mindset. And the only one who can change that is you. But if you want help, I’m right here!

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