This week, I was visiting a retailer who sells my company’s seed. We talked about the challenging horizon farmers and agriculturalists face today.
Farmers have many choices. They can choose new equipment, better land, sustainable soil and fertility practices, and the most innovative solutions and seeds. However, these choices are coupled with decreased value, lower market prices and more scrutiny from neighbors, family and the public. The account manager and I were discussing these challenges. He then states, “seeds representatives are tough”.
I stopped for a second to think about it. I nodded in agreement.
I’m a seeds representative. I’ve been told many times it is far from easy being in sales for corn and soybean seed. But for some reason, this resonated with me. I don’t think just anyone can be a seeds rep. There is more toughness to it than many other roles. I have been in seed sales nearly three years and I have not always been tough. I also don’t believe it all stems from working in a male-dominated, emotionally-oriented industry. It is parallel to the toughness I have had to develop in my fitness and health goals.
Through my experiences in both seeds and bodybuilding, I conclude on five fundamental rules for toughness.
1) Admit when you don’t know, find out, and move on.
When I moved to Nebraska in November 2014, I didn’t know shit about Nebraska agriculture. “But, it’s just corn and soybeans, right?” Sure is. However, it’s amazing the difference geography and culture have on production practices and product selection. For example, Nebraska is much drier than Ohio. To help the crops grow, they must supplement water on the fields, whether it is above the ground with pivot irrigation or underground irrigation. I had to be humble and admit I did not know these things, learn them, and keep going with my job.
With health and nutrition, it is the same way. I started training in April 2015. I didn’t know shit about nutrition, meal timing, muscle endurance, amino acids, supplementation and more. I admitted that, hired a coach and continued to learn, like I am today. If someone wants me to create a workout or nutrition program, I will admit when I am still inexperienced or need to do more homework.
The ability to humble and admit when you don’t know something versus telling someone the wrong answer can be detrimental to your credibility in any field. This act builds toughness for your expertise and confidence in the future.
2) You must experience more than one “season”.
There are seasons to growing plants. There are seasons to competing for a physique competition. I admit I was naive for both when I start in both seed sales and bodybuilding. I’ve always been a fast-paced, driven person. I like efficiency. I like to win. However, when I was down in sales my first year and did not place in my first competition, it hit my ego.
This was just season one in both experiences. Things were learned, overcome, and new challenges were presented. It made me realize that toughness builds over time.
3) Listen, but do not always follow advice.
The best advice I was ever give was to not always take advice. Advice must be filtered. Who is it coming from? What is the situation, scenario and desired outcome?
If I wanted to become a better writer, would I listen to the advice of someone who is more talented in math? If I wanted relationship advice, would I listen to someone who has not had a stable relationship or someone who has been happily married for years? Some advice we should follow can often be the hardest to hear. However, that builds toughness.
I vividly remember being told that I sucked at knowing my sales territory. It engrained a new habit within me to check my sales numbers daily and analyze parts of the business I am less excited about. But, it has made me more aware.
The blessing and curse with social media today is that everyone shares their advice and opinions. Now, it’s up to you to filter whose you’d like to follow.
4) Create discipline.
Cold calling is an art. Intentionally scheduling meetings and business planning take focus. Following a specific diet and training plan for weeks on end requires dedication. All of these skills are doable. However, you cannot advance in them without discipline.
Discipline builds toughness. In my opinion, bodybuilding takes much more mental control than physical strength. The intensity of dieting, training and resting are vigorous on the mind and body. But after the first experience, I was more aware of how my mind and body work and be able to use that to do my next two shows more successfully.
Sales is something everyone is in, no matter your “job title” or “industry”. However, in a field sales job, it takes much more discipline to keep up with the ever-changing pace during the day and large objectives in front of you. When you start to create habits and build discipline, your toughness to endure even the worst day or criticism can be overcome.
5) Never accept “no”.
This past month, I entered the Arnold Model Search. It was a “fly by the seat of my pants” decision and investment. For those of you who voted, I truly thank you! I did not get selected as a finalist.
I’ve heard the word “no” more times than I can count. However, it has become insignificant. There are other reasons people use the word “no”, and it might have nothing to do with your product or service. It could simply be they are disciplined enough to not buy. Nonetheless, learning to never accept “no” and continue towards your goals is an invaluable skill.
My toughness against “no” fuels me. I will overcome these perceived “failures”, review, and take action towards my ultimate goals.
The toughness experienced in seed and fitness is one that once you attain it, you can keep it going to become a tough cookie. Reach your goals and push forward. One quote I have in my planner I say to myself every day is
“Make your goal in mold and your plan in sand.”
Be willing to change, ride the tide and keep moving towards that goal. How can you use toughness to do that? Yes, I might have lost sales in the past, did not win a competition and wasn’t selected as a model finalist. So what? Now I know things to work on for next time. I’m becoming the best version of me.
Can I help you become the best version of you? Feel free to contact me for personalized workouts, nutrition plans and discipline coaching.