"Confidence, the feeling you have just before ..."

It matters how we define words. This definition of confidence [the feeling you have just before you understand the situation] was instilled by my flying instructor and saved my life. Be positively paranoid: "Where will you land if you lose the engine?”, he would ask as he killed the throttle.

I was a pioneer in the ultralight movement and learned to fly in a single seat aircraft but when I bought an aerobatic biplane I thought I should get some formal training. I went solo in Cessna 152 in club record time (6.3 hours) because I could already fly. I crashed my biplane more than 27 years ago. The undercart was ripped away, the lower wing spars snapped, the engine mounts shattered; but it was a successful landing after an engine failure above the pine forest in the background. I'll write a detailed post about this incident later as it has many lessons for business and professional selling.

He taught me a little bit about the skill of flying and a huge amount about my attitude. I’ve carried these lessons into professional selling and business. I’m always ‘positively paranoid’ about what could go wrong in a sale. I’m not negative but I’m constantly thinking about things such as, ‘what happens if my key relationship leaves?’ or ‘what’s going on politically?’ or ‘what’s the competition up to in my account?’ or ‘what are their internal options?’ or ‘could their funding change?’ or ‘what could wrong with their process?’

The best sales professionals manage risk for themselves and their customers. Hope is not strategy. Planning, preparation and masterful execution are the hallmarks of a pro. Look at the top 3 deals in your forecast right now; do you really deserve to be confident? Don’t worry about things outside your control but what risks can you positively manage.

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Main Image Photo by Flickr: Bill Larkins