The shame of success — and how top producers overcome itArticle added by David Newman on May 8, 2013
David Newman

David Newman

Bryn Mawr, PA

Joined: May 07, 2013

There are already way too many people and circumstances that make you feel weak, unworthy and unsuccessful. They do not need your help.

If you're down in the dumps — no money, no clients, no prospects, no hope — this article is for you. If you're doing great and not sure exactly why or how long this “lucky streak” will last, this article is definitely for you.

There's a dirty word in sales, especially among some of the top producers, the sales rock stars and the seasoned sales pros who, above all, feel that they should serve as shining examples of personal success and professional prosperity. That word is shame. It's easy to feel shame when your sales numbers aren’t where you know they need to be. Yes, it's painful, negative and unpleasant to feel shame. At least that part makes sense, because feeling unsuccessful leads to discomfort.

There's another kind of shame that is more pernicious, dangerous and much more common than you might think. It's the shame of success. It's when you just start to break through, when your sales numbers just start to take off, when the commission money just starts to flow abundantly. You're not only paying your bills, you're paying off debt (credit cards, home equity line, etc.), you're building up your savings, your rainy day fund is healthy, you're paying yourself regularly, you are even putting away some nice money for retirement and/or your kids' college fund.

Then it hits you: the shame of success. It's a little voice in your head. You know what I'm talking about. I'll bet you even know what it's saying to you. Things like:
    "This won't last — it's just a lucky streak."
    "You're one step away from being broke again."
    "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."
    "You're not that good. You're not that smart. You can't even handle this much client work."
    "You're going to blow through all this cash and be back at square one."
    "Better not tell anyone about this success, they'll be jealous."
And on and on.

See also: Is fear getting in the way of your success?

There are always two little voices in your head — let’s call one “the voice of judgment.” This is the voice that always tells you what’s wrong, what’s missing, why you’re not good enough, smart enough, capable enough. It’s the inner critic that can all-too-easily send you into a tailspin of second-guessing, self-doubt, self-loathing, and even short-term anxiety and long-term depression.
Please, stop the madness. Kill that voice. Catch yourself every time you hear it and tell it to go take a hike. Refocus. Recenter. The second voice, just as “real” and just as available to you any time you choose to listen to it, we can call, “The voice of objective intelligence.” This voice is always positive, confident, encouraging and affirming. It says things like:
    "You’ve tackled things like this before. In fact, you’re pretty great at it once you get focused."
    "Breathe, relax, you’re in control. You got this one! Nothing you can’t handle."
    "Remember that big sale from last month? Let’s do that again!"
    "Your clients and customers love you; this next prospect will, too."
    "You’re really hitting your stride. Great job on that sale."
    "Wow, look at those commissions. You’re smokin’ in the money house!"
As sales professionals, we spend way too much time listening to (and being needlessly held back by) the voice of judgment. And by the same token, we spend precious little time tuning in to the voice of objective intelligence which is usually more accurate and certainly more motivating and productive.

Strategies for killing the voice of judgment:

1. Acknowledge its existence (and by reading this article, you just did that).

2. Recognize it as soon as you start to hear it in your head, so you can nip it in the bud.

3. Sometimes it helps to develop a fun response for yourself, something like saying, “Thank you for sharing, now go away,” or “I don’t need to hear any more from you.”

4. As soon as you’ve dismissed the negative self-talk, listen in for the other voice. Find the affirming, positive, motivating thoughts that are just as strong but usually buried under all your negative mind chatter.

5. Some sales pros like to keep a list of affirmations or phrases used by the voice of objective intelligence on their smart phone or in their paper calendar for easy reference anytime, anyplace. Try this if you think it will work for you.

Remember once and for all: There is no shame in your success. If you have real friends, they'll celebrate with you. If you have friends who don't, guess what? They're not your real friends. If misery loves company, it has company enough. And it's time you quit that company. You know who really loves company? Passion loves company. Achievers love company. Winners love company. Success loves company.

There are already way too many people and circumstances that make you feel weak, unworthy and unsuccessful. They do not need your help.

Fact: You totally deserve to be successful. This is absolutely your time to crush it. You are insanely great, so keep going!

In the immortal words of the great Zig Ziglar, "I'll see you at the top!"
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