The human mind is an interesting thing. It is powerful beyond belief, yet riddled with all kinds of viruses that will harm you if left unchecked. To protect your ego, your mind will come up with ways to rationalize your failures, even rationalizing your behavior when you wrong another person. But by protecting your ego and absolving yourself of responsibility, your ability to rationalize can destroy your results.
You Lost the Deal
You may rationalize a deal lost to a competitor by telling yourself that it wasn’t a straight up contest, that they dropped their price to a level at which no one could really serve the customer, let alone do so at a profit. You may not want to believe that you were outsold, but you were. You failed to make the case that the value of your solution was worth paying your higher price. Or you may have failed to identify the prospect as a price buyer or disqualified them early.
You can rationalize away a lost deal by believing that your prospective client didn’t really understand the value of your solution, how you are different, and why you would be the better choice. The outcome of selling is to create a preference for you and your solution. You didn’t create that preference. “But wait,” you protest, “that prospect didn’t even give me a fair chance to compete. My competitor had unfettered access to everyone on the buying team.” Whose job is it to gain access to the stakeholders you need inside your prospective client’s company?
Everything Is Your Fault
Everything is your fault. If you lost, then you own the loss.
The problem with rationalizing lost deals, mistakes, and missteps, is that it disempowers you. It robs you of your ability to do something different when faced with the same situation in the future. It means that the world is acting on you and there is nothing you can do about it.
One of the most dangerous infections you can suffer from is the belief that you are powerless to do something different to produce a better result. The linchpin human attribute, the one attribute that enables so many of the others, is resourcefulness. Because creativity is limitless, given a long enough timeline, human beings overcome every obstacle they encounter.
A growth mindset allows you to own your failures and mistakes, to learn from them, and to come up with a new strategy or tactic.
You know your competitor is going to compete by lowering their price so low that you dare not follow them. So you start teaching your prospective clients to expect lower prices and also to expect the poor results that come with under-investing in the solution they need. You make them a list of areas where the investments will be cut to get to those lower prices, and show them how it hurts their results. You leave a minefield behind you for your low price selling competitor to walk into.
You know you need stakeholders to compete fairly. So you “go there” and ask for access as early in the process as you can. If you are rejected, you push back, explaining that you can’t do your best work without access. If your prospective client refuses, you know you are column fodder and you move on to a better opportunity. Or you have your executive team work their executive team.
When you own your losses, you empower yourself to make better choices in the future. Everything is your fault, which means you have the power to do something different.
What poor results are you rationalizing? What are you telling yourself to absolve yourself of responsibility?
What new choices can you make by owning those failures, missteps, mistakes, and poor results?
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