My experience with testicular cancer taught me a lot about building a resilient sales mindset and fighting sales anxiety.
On July 1st 2018, I was working out at my local gym. At the time I was probably in the best shape of my life.  I remember this day incredibly clearly today, even though it happened more than 2 years ago now.
I was doing a groin strengthening workout on one of the machines when I started to notice some slight discomfort in my lower pelvis area. Three days later and after an ultrasound I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Thankfully I did not need chemotherapy (surgery removed the tumor) and I’m still cancer free today. I’m sharing this story with you because one of the most effective strategies I used to protect my Mental Health during this time – I learned while working in sales.
Making the choice to adopt an input focused mindset over an output focused mindset.

Pitfalls of An Output Focused Mindset in Sales

Getting blindsided by an unexpected cancer diagnosis feels very similar to a massive deal you put your heart into for months that blows out last minute for reasons you cannot control.
Except multiply those feelings you get when you lose that deal by 1000%. 
That’s how I felt.
Much like working within sales, the weeks after July 1st were ripe with uncertainty, anxiety and fear as I went through next steps with doctors to determine my treatment. For weeks I had to tussle with the same intrusive thoughts that kept trying to take over.
“What if the surgery doesn’t work?”
“What if the cancer had spread?”
“What if don’t make it through this?”
Again… these thoughts are very similar to the ones we experience while working in sales.
“What if that deal doesn’t close?”
“What if I miss my target?”
“What if I lose my job?”
This is how downward spirals begin and speed up. Negative thoughts growing in intensity, cycling in our head until we’re too anxious/depressed to move or we respond by working so hard we end up burning ourselves out.

Fueling Sales Anxiety

These intrusive thoughts happen when we become too focused on the output or outcome we want to achieve. This is an output focused mindset that fuels sales anxiety.
Because no outcome we desire in sales, life or otherwise can ever be 100% certain before it happens. 
Sure I wanted to recover from cancer (Outcome/ Output) – but I couldn’t really control that.
Sure you may want that big deal to close (Outcome/ Output) – but there are things you cannot control.
There will always be factors you cannot control and some degree of uncertainty, obstacle or challenge we cannot see coming. Uncertainty your sales anxiety and self-doubt will use to fuel intrusive thoughts.

Building a Resilient Sales Mindset By Focusing On Inputs

Remembering to ask yourself this question by Elizabeth Gilbert consistently, will help you break these downward spirals and help you build a resilient sales mindset: 

“What would you do if you knew that you might very well fail?”

I love this question and exercise because “What you do” is 100% in your control.
The Input.
If I knew I was going to be entering a long battle with cancer, I would want to be entering that battle in the best possible shape. So I doubled downed on my exercise, nutrition and wellness in the weeks leading up to surgery.
The Input.
If I knew I wasn’t going to make it through this experience I would be telling everyone I possibly could about my experience with testicular cancer so those close to them might catch it earlier. So I double downed on sharing openly with anyone I spoke with – friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers.
The Input.
If you knew that big deal you were working so hard on to close would eventually blow out, you would likely be finding new business. You would double down on your practice, your mental game and putting the work in each day (making the calls, sending the emails, etc) that will lead to new business.
The Input. 
What you can 100% control.
Like a basketball player who shoots thousands of shots each day because they know it will lead to better performance and outcomes regardless of what happens in the game.

Resilient Sales Mindset Driving Better Mental Health and Success

As Ozan Varol so clearly stated in his book Think Like a Rocket Scientist:
“By taking pressure off the outcome you get better at your craft. Success becomes a consequence not the goal.”
When you adopt a resilient sales mindset and focus on the inputs, you remove uncertainty from the equation. As a result you don’t give your sales anxiety anything to feed off and you suffocate intrusive thoughts before they can take over.
But lets hear from you in the comments….
Have there been times in your life when you have used an input focused mindset to generate better outcomes and keep sales anxiety at bay?
For more best practices on building a resilient mindset in sales and other ways to protect mental health; check out the online master class below.

About The Author

Jeff Riseley is currently the Founder of the Sales Health Alliance and Mental Health Advocate. With over a decade of sales experience – Jeff understands the importance of Mental Health in achieving peak sales performance.

Jeff combines his sales (Sales Knowledge Institute) and Mental Health expertise to improve sales performance through a mix of sales mentorship and mental health best practices. His strategies have helped sales teams improve their sales process, while helping them become more motivated, resilient and better equipped to tackle stressful events within sales.

He is currently delivering these strategies through on-site workshops, coaching and speaking engagements. To explore working with Jeff contact him at [email protected]



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