I’m writing this from San Antonio, Texas. A lovely city, if you’re wondering. My hotel is about one block from the Alamo. Yes, of “remember the Alamo” fame. And no, I didn’t do anything that Ozzy Osbourne did at the Alamo (kids, look that up if you don’t get the reference). The Alamo is a truly inspiring place – where about 300 Texans chose to stand off a Mexican army numbering over 6,000. A fool’s errand? Perhaps, in our modern world – but in their world, it was a matter of honor.
For those Texans, the Alamo was their last retreat. One thing that strikes you as you walk around the original footprint is how small it was, and how little fortification there really was for those people. But, mentally, they had left themselves no alternative – it was to defend the Alamo or nothing. As you might expect, this brings me to a question that I often wonder – what’s our Alamo, in our careers? What’s our ‘defend or nothing’ point?
I started my business nearly 14 years ago. My official first day in business was September 1, 2004. On that day, I made up my mind that I was never going to work for someone else ever again. In doing so, I’d set up my own personal Alamo. When it came to the question of success or failure (and I’ll be honest, there have been a couple of moments of potential failure), my only option was to succeed. After all, if I’m not going to work for someone else, what am I going to do?
One issue I see in today’s world is that salespeople, confronted with failure, simply plan on moving on to another job. “There’s always going to be another gig,” says the logic, “so if I fail here, it’s no big deal.” And it’s not until that person has stacked up enough different failures to make themselves basically unhireable. And at that point, it’s too late for them.
That’s bad. What’s worse is seeing business owners who are at their own Alamo, but are willing to fail rather than move out of their comfort zone.
Knowing that you’re at your own personal Alamo means that you have to have a willingness to do whatever it takes to defend your ground. If that means swallowing your pride, so be it. If it means learning a new skill, or changing your business model, or refreshing your sales model, so be it. When you’re at your own Alamo, beyond the point of any retreat, you’re willing to do whatever it takes.
Here’s what I’ve learned, though, in nearly 30 years of sales and 14 years of owning my own business. It’s almost always better to make a stand, decide that you’re going to do whatever it takes to be successful RIGHT NOW, and make it work, than it is to retreat and find success at some vague point down the road.
If you’re struggling, if you’re not getting the results you want, or even if the boss has you with one foot out the door, allow me to give you the advice that generations of Texans have taken to heart.
Remember the Alamo!