It takes attitude to reach altitude

"You will be fired with enthusiasm — or fired with enthusiasm."

— Vince Lombardi

When he was coaching what had been a lackluster football team in the small Wisconsin town of Green Bay, Vince Lombardi surrounded himself with enthusiastic people.

He wanted coaches and players who loved the game of football.

Football is a contact sport. It is physically and mentally punishing, especially the way professional athletes play the game, wide open and with little thought of personal injury.

It is a mind game, too. If that huge tackle across the line of scrimmage can convince you he's going to eat you for lunch, he's already got you thinking like a loser.

If that blitzing linebacker can take the heart out of your quarterback, it's going to be a long afternoon. His team — not yours — is going to win the game.

You often play in pain. On Monday mornings — after a bruising Sunday afternoon football game — a pro football player has to struggle just to get out of bed.

Professional athletes make a lot of money. But there is no amount of money that would make most of us endure what they go through. You have to do it for "love of the game".

As professional newspaper sales people, we are engaged in a contact sport.

We press the flesh, as Lyndon Johnson used to describe campaigning for Congress.

We get in people's faces. Not in an antagonistic way, but in a friendly, helpful and professional way. We're there to make their cash registers ring.

We take our licks, bumps and bruises. We call it rejection. Or being stood up.

We deal with the enemy across the line of scrimmage, That's our competition.

We've got to be fired with enthusiasm — or we will mentally fire ourselves.

The most enthusiastic member of our little team at our small weekly newspaper in South Carolina is our pet editor. Her name is Killer.

Killer stands less than two feet tall. But she has the heart of a lion.

Killer sleeps with our editor. She comes to work every morning with our publisher.

She hops up in the back seat of our publisher's car and rides in the back window where she has a great view. When she gets to the office, she can hardly wait for the publisher to open the door. She runs through the building, greeting our office staff who have been on the job since 7:30.

She checks out her water dish in the kitchen, then goes to lie down in the publisher's office to keep an eye on her. She knows the publisher works for her.

Her editor is an early morning meeting kind of guy. If he doesn't have a breakfast meeting somewhere, he's having breakfast with a customer or business colleague. He doesn't get to the office until 8:30 or sometimes 9 a.m.

But Killer knows the sound of his car. And when he comes into the news department, she's waiting and ready, jumping up and down like a Mexican jumping bean.

Killer has been with us more than eight years. In dog years, she should be close to retirement. But she doesn't know that — or care. She's happy to be at work with us.

How happy were you at work today? Are you looking forward to tomorrow?

Donald Trump, the master deal maker and now sometime TV star of "The Apprentice", says he can't wait to get to work. He doesn't do it for the money. He's got more of that than he will ever need. He does it because he loves it.

Are you having a bad hair day? Did your spouse grump at you this morning? Did the kids spill milk all over the kitchen? Did the puppy potty on the carpet?

Sure they did. That's life. But as Vince Lombardi taught his players, we have to shake off "little hurts". That's part of the daily stress of life.

The puppy potted on the rug while you were planning to do something else than get out the spot remover and carpet shampoo.

Life is what happens while we were planning our next big sales campaign.

As Lou Holtz, the coach who turns teams around, likes to say, "It's not the altitude but the attitude." By that, he means we reach altitude if we have the right attitude.

In his best-seller, "The Winning Attitude", John Maxwell writes about his first flight with his friend Paul in a small plane. John noticed Paul kept watching one particular instrument.

"That's the attitude indicator," Paul said. "In flying, the attitude of the airplane is what we call the position of the aircraft in relation to the horizon."

If the plane has a nose-high attitude, that means the plane is climbing. If it has a nose-down attitude, the aircraft is diving.

"Since the performance of the plane depends on its attitude, it is necessary to change the attitude to change the performance," Paul said.

Doesn't that also apply to us? If we want to change our performance — to sell more advertising and win more customers — don't we need to change our attitude?

Brian Tracy, the super sales trainer, suggests we get over the "little hurts" with a short mantra, repeated over and over: "I like myself, I like myself, I like myself."

Most of us like ourselves most of the time. And the mantra helps when rudeness, rejection or being stood up by a prospect gets us down.

I would suggest a second mantra: "I love my job, I love my job, I love my job."

I also suggest you make a list of good books, tapes and CDs on sales, business and psychology you are going to read this year and start knocking off one of them a week.

Also, take care of your body and your health. Get on the exercise bike or the treadmill for 20 minutes. Take a good book along to read. Not a Harlequin romance. Take something that will enrich your mind and improve your attitude — something like "The Winning Attitude" by John Maxwell or "Winning Every Day" by Lou Holtz.

Take that 20-minute walk. The world will still be waiting when you get back.

Be like Killer — fired with enthusiasm. She can't wait to get to work each day.

Jerry Bellune and his wife MacLeod own and operate a small newspaper in Lexington, S.C. They welcome visiting newspaper people. Jerry's new advertising sales manual, "How to Peel a Green Banana: Seven Strategies of Advertising Super Stars", is available on CD. You can read the opening chapter on his website

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It takes attitude to reach altitude


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