Does it come from reciting affirmations? Or dressing for success? Or having an upright posture and breathing properly? All these things can contribute to a sense of certainty, but they are not its source. The source of certainty is you and what you believe about yourself.
Now, a word of caution. You can develop a sense of emotional certainty by how you dress, how you carry yourself, through positive thinking and so on. This stuff does work. But it’s not sustainable all by itself. It’s like having zeal without foundation. It feels good, but all it takes is a little resistance and that zeal soon collapses.
You want something more than emotional certainty to sustain yourself through tough times, like when you’re under pressure. You want mental certainty. You want to know in your mind, beyond any doubt, that you’ve got what it takes to accomplish the task at hand. This kind of certainty is like a muscle. If you want it to grow, you have to exercise it. This kind of certainty is built, experience-by-experience.
Let me use a sports analogy to explain what I mean. Let’s go back to the 1990 men’s NCAA basketball finals. Clemson is leading the University of Connecticut by 1 point with 1 second left on the clock. UConn has possession of the ball under their own basket. The Clemson basket is 94 feet away.
The ball is given to 6’5″ Scott Burrell, who had declined a pitching contract with the Seattle Mariners to play college basketball. His opponent is 6’11” Elden Campbell. The game plan is simple. All Campbell must do is tower over Burrell and he won’t be able to see any of his teammates. The buzzer goes off, Burrell can’t shoot and Clemson wins. Easy, right?
As you’re probably guessing, it didn’t work out that way. The ref blows his whistle, and Burrell rockets an arcing one-handed pass over Campbell’s outstretched arms and about 90 feet down court to teammate Tate George, who in one fluid motion, jumps up over his opponents, grabs the ball, lands on his feet, spins 270 degrees and shoots. The ball travels 17 feet into the basket without even touching the rim.
If you watch this buzzer-beater on YouTube you’ll hear commentary about Clemson’s coach playing smart basketball—using has last time out to reconfigure the alignment of his players to match UConn’s and putting his tallest player in the key position to not only block the ball, but block the opponent’s field of vision.
But none of that mattered. Burrell could have been blindfolded and he still would have found his teammate at the other end of the court. Here’s what you won’t see on YouTube: After the game, Tate George, the player who made the game winning shot, was asked how he managed to pull off the ‘impossible.” George responded by saying the UConn coach, Jim Calhoun, insisted he and Burrell practice that one play over and over again until they perfected it.
Think about that for a moment. Practice a single play designed for a very specific event and a very specific moment in time and one that may never ever be used. But practice it again and again, just in case. Because if you ever do need to execute it, you’ve got one shot at getting it right.
Imagine the pressure on these two players. One second to go, no room for error and the entire college basketball community watching the sweat on your brow. It’s pass/fail, sink/swim, hero or soon forgotten. And these two players did pull off what was so improbable that no sports commentator even thought to suggest it as a possible play. Surely, no one on the Clemson team could have imagined what was about to happen. And yet this game-winning play had been meticulously planned, faithfully practiced and executed with absolute certainty.
Stop and consider the situations you face daily in your business activities. Where is your certainty coming up short? Do you get stumped by questions and objections that seem to come out of left field? None of them should take you by surprise. I cover every possible objection in my training material. You should know how to handle every situation with almost automatic precision. When you know you can’t fail you act with absolute certainty.
Have you scripted out your entire presentation? Have you committed it all to memory, including rebuttals, to cover every possible contingency? If you haven’t, how can you speak with absolute certainty? Well, you can’t and prospects can ‘smell’ the uncertainty oozing from your pores.
Have you practiced listening skills? Sounds a little odd, I know, but it’s a discipline that’s easy to overlook. We love to talk. We want to be influential. But without good listening skills, we can’t be effective communicators.
I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. And this may sound a bit cliche, but it works: practice makes perfect. And perfect delivers absolute certainty.
All the best to you. Now go close more sales!