Is Your Perceived Weakness Really a Strength?

Over the weekend, there was a heart-warming story about a football team in California—the Riverside Cubs. The Riverside Cubs were preparing to play for the California State Championship. As a mediocre high school football player, I can only imagine what it’s like to hear the fans cheering for you in a state title match. As it turns out, the Riverside Cubs would also have to imagine what it’s like to hear the cheering crowds. From the coaches to the players, every member of the Riverside Cubs is hearing impaired—the entire team is deaf.

This remarkable story is a testament to the resilient human spirit. Anyone that has played a team sport can attest to the importance of communication—just listen to any mic’d up NFL player. However, the Riverside Cubs found a way to leverage their perceived weakness into a profound strength. In the story, the players agree that being deaf makes them better players and better teammates. Unlike other players, they can use rapid hand movements to communicate more effectively. Because they cannot hear, all their other senses are heightened. This story is just one of many examples of individuals thriving in the face of adversity.

In my new book, Selling Through Tough Times, the overarching theme is that tough times are good. Tough times are not pain-free, but they can lead to positive outcomes. The Riverside Cubs demonstrate how their challenges and setbacks make them stronger and more competitive. Whether it’s the football field or the boardroom, tough times are good. Consider adopting the same attitude as the Riverside Cubs. No salesperson (or football player) is perfect. Accepting our imperfections opens the door to new possibilities.

Here are a few ideas to help you navigate your tough times…

Although selling is a “solo sport,” you have a team of resources there to support you and lift you up. If you struggle selling the technical capabilities of your solutions, then call an audible (pun intended). Partner with your technical team to present those capabilities. If you struggle to navigate high-level sales meetings, then call on your high-level leaders to help run the meeting. Leverage your team’s resources.

Ask yourself, “How can I fully leverage my strengths?” The football players can’t hear their teammates, so their visual communication skills are enhanced. Based on your challenges, which of your other skills are enhanced? You may struggle at cold calling, but you thrive at networking events. How can you do more of what makes you successful? Although it makes sense to improve where you struggle, it makes even more sense to build on your strengths.

Unfortunately, the Riverside Cubs did not win the California State Championship. I’m sure the team was frustrated with their loss, but they will learn from it. Their lessons learned will carry them to new heights on the field, and even higher off the field. A story like the Riverside Cubs makes me think of Booker T. Washington’s famous quote on success: “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” Well done, Riverside Cubs!

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