Early in my career as a sales manager in my father’s busy Buick dealership, I recall a brief but memorable conversation we had after a crazy day in the showroom.
Standing in his office, feeling completely frustrated and worn out, I vented to him about the “grinding” I got from nearly every customer. It seemed that our prices were too high, their trade-in allowances too low, and our salespeople too pushy. (If you’ve ever sold anything, I’m sure you’ve had plenty of days like this–they are an inevitable part of sales.) But instead of trying to cheer me up or regale me with “back in my day” stories from his time in sales, my dad responded by telling me exactly what I needed to hear.
“If you stop and think about it, selling something almost always involves overcoming resistance,” he reasoned. “There’s a natural reluctance in people to spending tens of thousands of their hard earned dollars for a new car, something they know will lose value as soon as they drive it off the lot.” Although it really wasn’t what I wanted to hear right then, he got my attention and I listened more closely. “If you’re going to succeed in this business, you have to understand that your #1 job is creating and delivering value– enough value to reduce your customer’s resistance. If resistance didn’t exist, I could hire a clerk to do your job… for a lot less than what I’m paying you.” (Definitely not what I want to hear at that moment!) “What you need to learn is to not only deal with resistance, but to expect it, because that’s what creates the wonderful opportunity you have in this business.”
That exchange with my dad on that warm spring evening more than 25 years ago lasted maybe five minutes. But I never forgot it, and since then, I’ve shared his wisdom with many others.
Resistance is Everywhere
After over 30 years in business, I’ve come to realize that the principle of resistance applies not only to car-shopping customers, but to nearly every area of life. In his insightful book, Resisting Happiness, here’s how author Matthew Kelly describes it:
“If you’ve ever tried to accomplish anything worthwhile, then you’ve been face-to-face with resistance. You may not have called it by name in the past, but I suspect you will in the future… It wears a thousand masks. Laziness, procrastination, fear, doubt, instant gratification, self loathing, indecision, escapism, pride, self-deception… and self sabotage. In every moment of every day, resistance is there, waiting to pounce.”
Over the years, as my circle of influence has expanded, I have seen resistance unleashed in so many ways. We live in a culture that increasingly embraces comfort, convenience, digital addiction and self-indulgence (some experts predict that in the next decade, more than half of the world’s population will be obese). Living your best life requires a new level of intentionality that starts with identifying and overcoming resistance.
As my father told me when I was a frustrated young sales manager, don’t fear, avoid, or accept resistance. Instead, lean into it. Consistently embrace the discomfort that resistance induces and over time, you will develop into the kind of person who lives above its deleterious effects.
In a previous blog post, author and leadership expert Michael Hyatt wrote, “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the willingness to act in spite of my fear.” The exact same principle applies to resistance. You can’t eliminate it, but you can equip yourself to act in spite of it.
And every time you do, you expand the margins of your comfort zone. In other words, you grow.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou
How does resistance manifest in your life? How do you deal with it? What could happen in your life if you punched through resistance for the next 90 days?