"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."

~ Physicist Niels Bohr, quoted in the Harvard Business Review ~

Closed off to new ideas ? Rugby coaching example.


I heard an interview recently with an
International sports coach commentating on rugby. He was being asked how it is that some sportsmen make it to the top table in sport and how others with real talent and everything going for them miss out on that elite level of sporting prowess. They don’t make the team yet they should make the team. Curious ?

I have seen this question posed many times and the usual answer is around an “edge” that some can deliver to their game through personal disciplines. This is the standard thought.

I was not expecting the reply that this particular coach gave.

He explained how long and how much he had been around the top performers in rugby and concluded on what is the defining point of those that make it over those equally talented that do not make it.

His most valid point was around the best players understanding that every training session and every match is all part of the learning process. You never suddenly know it all. This is true in telephone sales and customer service.

We learn from every discussion on the phone and every meeting with clients. We learn also from others in our organisations that are there to help us. We learn from mentors an trainers too. The day you stop learning, the very day you feel you know it all is when you need the following advice:

The punch line for the international rugby coach when giving his perspective mentioned how so many talented people become “closed off” once they attain a certain level. Once players are “closed off” they are no longer open to advice and improvement. They have become the axis of their own performance (my words here). Simply put they know it all and stop at that level. With nothing left to learn they are overlooked in the superstar selection process.

No truer comparison for this behaviour than an office environment. A sales office in particular and sales managers in many cases. Their development often stopping the minute they tack “manager” onto their CV. I meet a lot of good people who have the sense to ground themselves and be open to help and constructive criticism. I speak with business owners who are open to all the help they can can get. Managers I have met have often been at the top of their game. And yet so many are completely closed off. 

Some give the impression that the sun shines ...........(I shall let you end the very well known saying). They are closed off and often the wrong choice. Once good salesmen rarely make the best managers is my conclusion. 

The world, your world is always changing. Never take success strategies for granted. Never believe your own story that you know it all. I have been in sales a long time. Every year I pick up new things and new ideas. I meet great people and enjoy empowering them and being empowered by them.

The rugby coach is correct. When we are “closed off” at our personal top level much of the processes that used to work gradually stop working as our ego takes over and in telephone sales that means we stop leading by example.


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