When it’s Better to Follow than to Lead

So while skiing in Japan last week, I spent time following my buddy and bad ass skier Shannon. Shannon is an amazing skier. He skis like I want to ski. He shreds the bumps, hits killer air, and is technically sound. He’s always in the right position and has some of the quickest, most responsive skis you’ll ever see in an amateur.

Following him around for 7 days did amazing things for my skiing. He pushed me in ways that I just couldn’t or wouldn’t push myself. What’s most relevant is that he pushed through his mere presence as much as he did through his advice and feedback. Just by having him around, I found myself taking more risks, going faster and doing things I hadn’t done before or in a long time. I literally followed Shannon around the mountain all week, watching how he turned, how he jumped, what lines he took, how he tipped his skis, etc. Following him around got me out of my own head and had me focused on things that I normally didn’t see or consider while skiing by myself or with others not as good.


Shannon getting sick on a tree stump. (not in Japan)

So, what did all this mimicking do for my skiing? Well, I threw my first 360 in 10 years, landing all 3 of them. I launched my first double jump ever (a double jump is when you launch a rock or cliff, land on a lower rock or cliff and immediately launch off that). I launched big kicker through the trees. I skied more aggressively and faster than I ever have for such conditions; tight trees, deep powder. My skiing and confidence were elevated to new heights by following Shannon around for 7 days.

The idea of improving by following someone better than you applies in sales as well. Finding that person who’s better than you at cold calling, presenting, engaging with prospects, building deal strategies, responding to objections, creating account plans, etc. is the BEST thing you can do for your sales game.

Finding someone to follow around to get better takes humility. You have to say to yourself AND the person you want to follow, “You’re better than me. You know it. I know it and I want to learn from you.” You have to check your ego at the door.

If you have the humility and cajones ┬áto check your ego, following the bad ass sales person in your sales organization is the best thing you can do to blow up your selling skills. Who knows, maybe you’ll get so good some one will start following you.

Start following a badass, it’s the one time it’s OK not to lead!