The Need For Other People’s Approval

Robert Terson

Recently I had a conversation with a good friend and colleague who happens to be one of the savviest sales trainers I know, despite the fact that she’s been experiencing some difficult times in the past year, including some personal devastation brought on by elements completely out of her control. We’re talking about a sensational Woman who brings her clients great value.

During the course of the conversation she told me a story about a presentation she gave to a prospective client who actually leaped out of his seat and excitedly told her how right she was (he obviously identified with the points she was making) and that he wanted to hire her on the spot, no further presenting was necessary.

My friend told me how great it was to hear that, to know that the man “got it,” that it confirmed to her that she was back on the right track. She told me the man had given her something she needed to hear: that she, indeed, was clicking on all cylinders and ready to provide this client, as well as all other potential clients, the great value she knew she was capable of. There was a certain sense of relief in her voice to go along with the excitement.

This all sounded wonderful, except for one thing: she was using an external source to prop up her belief system. I pointed that out to her. I told her that when we fall back on, rely on, external approval to tell us we’re “okay,” something is amiss. It means that deep down within ourselves we’re not sure, otherwise the external propping up wouldn’t have such meaning, such importance. In other words, my friends, the only approval that really counts is self-approval, and the only way you can get that is by gifting it to yourself. YOU have to believe it! It doesn’t matter how many others believe it; if you don’t believe it yourself, truly believe it, it’s not enough, it’ll never be enough.

Napoleon Hill said, “What the mind of man can conceive and believe [my emphasis], it can achieve.”

Henry Ford said, “If you believe you can do a thing, or if you believe you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Sometimes it helps to see/hear someone else’s “unbelievable” story to finally believe in yourself. In Chapter 12, Belief, of Selling Fearlessly I tell the story of Major League pitcher Jim Abbott. If he could accomplish what he did, do you doubt you have it in you to achieve your dream?

A Young Boy Dreams

If becoming a master salesperson seems like a stretch-and-a-half to you, try this dream on for size:

In the early 1970s a young boy dreams about being a great athlete; if you’re male, with two good arms and legs, and haven’t experienced this fantasy at least 10,000 times before you’re 18, you’re not human.

But what if you only have one arm and a stump, what then? Could you still seriously dream of being an athlete and truly believe it’s possible?

This kid did.

His name is Jim Abbott and he never stopped believing, or allowed anyone or anything to stand in the way of his dream. He had faith in himself.

Abbott was born September 19, 1967, in Flint, Michigan. He was born without a right hand, just the stump I mentioned. Despite his great physical handicap, he indeed became an athlete. He was the starting quarterback of his high school football team; they made it to the finals of the Michigan state championship. His true sport, though, was baseball. Unbelievably, he chose to be a pitcher. He wore a right-handed glove over the stump, then quickly switched the glove to his left hand after completing his pitching motion so he’d be ready to field his position. He’d remove the glove in a flash and make the throw with his left hand. He started perfecting this amazing technique at the ripe old age of 4.

Abbott went to the University of Michigan on a baseball scholarship. He led the Wolverines to the Big Ten title in his freshman and junior years. He won the Golden Spikes Award, given to the outstanding college baseball player in the United States. He was a member of the 1987 American team at the Pan American Games and won the U.S. Federation’s Golden Spikes Award—best amateur player in the country. In 1988 he led his country to the Gold Medal in the Olympic Games. He also won the Sullivan Award that year—best amateur athlete in the United States. The following year he joined the California Angels, beginning a 12-year major-league career. In 1991 Abbott won 18 games for the Angels, with an ERA of 2.89, and finished third in the running for the American League Cy Young Award.

On September 4, 1993, in the hallowed halls of the original Yankee Stadium, Abbott hurled a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.

I never met Jim Abbott, but as you can gather, I’m in awe of him. To have that kind of faith in yourself, to be that blind to your—you should pardon the expression—“handicap,” seems, well, a billion miles beyond “an ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing.” Line up 50,000 men and women; how many do you think would possess that kind of space-age-alloy mental attitude?

Good luck. Your selling gauntlet is mere child’s play, by comparison.

So, what do you think? Is it time to believe in yourself? Can you give yourself that precious gift?


Get your free Preview of Selling Fearlessly’s Chapter 1 here.