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Start Being Honest With Yourself

If you want to make massive improvements in your results in business, in sales, and in life, the fastest way to get there is to be brutally honest with yourself. Start with this: If you are the source of your success why are you not also the source of your failures?

We believe our successes come from all the things that we are. It’s the way you sell. It’s the product you created. It’s your education and experience. It’s your special ability to create rapport. When you succeed and win you can easily identify all of the things that you did that resulted in that success.

But when we lose we don’t look inside. We look instead at external factors. It wasn’t anything that you did. It was some external force that was working against you, wasn’t it? It was your competitor’s price. It was the prospect not giving you a fair chance to compete. It was the fact that the prospect didn’t understand the value that you create or the ROI. When you lose (or fail) you can easily identify all of the external reasons you lost.

If it was the manner in which you sold, the value created as a sales person that allowed you to win the opportunity, why isn’t it also the manner in which you sold, the value you didn’t create as a salesperson, that caused you to lose? We tend to take too much credit for our own successes and avoid responsibility for our failures.

You know what this makes you? It makes you human. But the key to being a better, more effective human is to understand that you are responsible for your many successes (but that you likely had a a lot of good luck and a little help). You also take responsibility for your failures, your losses, and your shortcomings.

You only make improvements when you take responsibility for losses and failures by owning them. Because as soon as you take responsibility for your failures, as soon as you believe that you are responsible, you are empowered to start making the changes that allow you to do better in the future.


Are you the source of your successes?

Are you then also the source of your failures?

Why do we look at external factors to explain away our failures?

How do you own your failures and losses in a way that allows you to learn and avoid future losses?

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  • John Spence

    Absolutely stunning. I am working with a CEO right now that takes ALL the credit when things go right – and completely refuses to look in the mirror when things go wrong. I do not see good things ahead for his organization!!!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks, John. It takes courage. It takes emotional intelligence. But it’s so empowering when you recognize that if you are what’s wrong, you have the absolute power to change. If it’s external, then all you can do is wait to be acted on.

      I see rough water ahead for your CEO and their team.


  • Randy Cantrell

    Was talking just the other day with a gentleman about a sales assessment his company uses. Supposedly, it’s designed to help them gauge a person’s ability to sell successfully, in part, by showing how they handle rejection. If they accept too much responsibility for sales failure, they don’t likely get hired. They assume the candidate who feels there’s something they could have done better is less likely to succeed in sales than the person who thinks the non-buyer is at fault for failing to see the value. By the way, they’ve got a very pro cold calling culture.

    They’re wrong, of course, and you’re right. ;-)

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Wow! I think rejection and responsibility are two very different ideas. If they can’t recover from a “no,” then they’re going to struggle in sales (if that feels like rejection).

      But losing and believing that it’s something external means you are powerless to change anything to get a positive outcome. That’s why being honest with yourself is so empowering: you can do something about it in the future.

  • Alex Tena-Aréstegui

    Hello Anthony, I’m a loyal follower of your post, but I have to say that as there are many factors in the enviroment we can’t manage , our wins and failures are the result 50% of our skills and 50% of the enviroment., and is the conjunction between these factors and our aproach that result in a project, so if the conjunction was compatible with our offer it result in a sale.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino


      Here’s my take.

      I believe that we have absolutely zero control over the environment. We can’t manage it. We can’t control it. And we have almost no ability to influence it.

      What does that leave us? Ourselves.

      We are the only thing we have any control over (and even that is sometimes tenuous). I believe that as soon as you start believing that the environment is responsible for your results, you start disempowering yourself. You only empower yourself to act when you ask yourself how you can succeed–in spite of the environmental factors.

      But that’s my personal philosophy and psychology. I don’t believe it’s healthy to have a philosophy or psychology built on the idea that external factors rule your results.


      • Alex Tena-Aréstegui

        Ok, so if the point is control of ouselves, I’m agree, and that will include the control of our expectations, What I mean?, our expectations are the reflex of how we see ourselves, in most cases people tend to overestimated, in other underestimated themselves. I think we can not know ourselves until we proof the real life, and that invariably include those eviromental factors, but how many time, experience, pain or satisfaction is necesary to know ourselves?, that’s the questions. On the other hand I’ll be glad to read your point of view about my comment.

  • Ryan Glidewell

    Love this article. I’ve been a believer that I am responsible for my environment and really started applying this principle for a few years and I can’t tell you the difference that I have seen in my life. The moment I fully saw the effect is when I taught that principle to a child and let them see the amount of control they have in their lives. It was like looking at my own enlightenment. I look forward to reading more from you!

  • Aby

    I have taken accountability to my failures and to some extent worked on improving on those! but as there new episodes of failures(with sales/following processes), and I apologize a try to move on, I am afraid of getting the “Loser” tag added to my name, I feel sometimes that -if do not accept responsibility for failures, argue on prove others that they are wrong, I have the feel good factor that I fought and saved my dignity. Its like doing the Tight-rope-walk, balance it well you are alive/falter you are dead.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Oh, Aby. There is so much here.

      Know this: Losing doesn’t make one a loser. Failing doesn’t make one a failure. You aren’t defined by events, and losing and failing are merely events.

      Every successful person I know leaves a long wake of failures and losses behind them. It’s part of the game. But they don’t believe it defines them, and they retain their dignity.

      Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Chin up. Smile. Start again.


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