I am now forty-seven years old and the
phrase “do as I say and not as I do” has been around long before I was born. I
remember my uncle, who smoked like a chimney, use this phrase with me as a child.
I had a lacrosse coach that was overweight and couldn’t run a 100 yard dash preach
to us about conditioning and used this phrase at every practice. I had a
manager in my early career constantly attempting to coach us younger sales
people, but would never lead by example, and always fell back on this phrase. I
even used it myself once a few years ago with my son. However, I quickly said, “what
the hell am I doing”, and I sat down with my son for a longer conversation.
The phrase “do as I say and not as I do”
should not exist….ever. At the core it is saying that I can talk the talk but
cannot walk the walk. Or, in sales, it’s saying I am lucky and can’t really
sell by virtue of real sales training or practices. And, that folks is the real
shame in using such a phrase in the first place and why it should not exist.
The bottom line is this, if you want
someone to follow your advice, then you must be able to lead by example. Eat
your own dog food so goes another phrase. In other words, success can and
should breed success. A successful sales person should be in a position to lead
others by their own successful actions and not simply words alone. I had a
mentor say to me “bad habits be damned”. Everyone has a bad habit or two. We’re
all human, but bad habits are just that, bad habits, and they should be damned.
Bad habits should be acknowledged and corrected.
If you use the phrase “do as I say and
not as I do”, besides leading by poor example, what are you also telling
yourself? I have found over my many years of managing people that those that
use this phrase are also liars, not necessarily to other people, but to
themselves. These are the people that tend to be successful ‘B’ level sales
people but struggle to break through their own ceiling and reach ‘A’ level status.
These are individuals who complain about being overweight but order the double
cheeseburger for lunch. These individuals tend to congratulate their peers for
promotions but oftentimes ponder out loud why they’ve been passed over even
though they hit their sales numbers.
Look around you or maybe even in the
mirror. How often do you hear this phrase? What does hearing this phrase do to
your mood or attitude? Look a little deeper at the person saying it and ask
yourself if you truly believe this person has reached their own potential. What
might be holding them back? As you ask yourself these questions do one more
thing, look around for the successful sales person that never uses this phrase.
Identify this individual and engage them in conversation. Now ask them why they
don’t use it. Ask them what has been a driving factor in their success. Engage
those who cannot only talk the talk but who can walk the walk.