Sales Resilience

Sales? I don't like having to 'make the sale'.  I loathe it.  The very thought makes me uncomfortable.   There’s only one thing worse for me… having to ask for payment.  Even when it’s a legitimate request!  I'd rather track militia leaders in the Solomon Islands or board smuggler ships in the Arabian Gulf, than ask for payment.

You see, my Defence training never really covered ‘sales’.  And in my area – Logistics – while we had accountability for targets, inventories and the like, I don’t think I faced the same daily cut-throat commercial realities that you likely do.

That’s why I respect you and what you do.

Working in what some might consider a high-risk environment, where the stakes could be quite high, I did learn a lot about being resilient.  My team-mates lives, at times, depended on it.  And I believe lessons in resilience are directly transferable to the ‘corporate battlefield’.  Like taking the emotion out, where appropriate, to help you continue to make good decisions.

Remaining resilient during the 2006 Lebanon War was critical to getting my convoy out of harm’s way.  On leading a scheduled rotation off my patrol base, it took two days to complete a drive that typically took a couple of hours from our Patrol Base, back to HQ.  Road-after-road had been bombed.  Completely obliterated; impassable.  And due to the risk of land mines, going around the bomb craters was out of the question.  My UN issued map was hopelessly out-of-date and there was no GPS in our six wheeled ‘SISU’ armoured vehicles.  On day two, a broken conversation with a Lebanese gendarmerie (Policeman) in Arabic forced our convoy through a banana plantation then along a river – our wheels were almost slipping over the edge of a 20m cliff above the water.  And that’s when I saw them – scared, local Lebanese civilians fleeing in their old cars, coming directly the opposite way up our one-way track. 

Making matters worse, I had just been informed that Israel was about to commence the heaviest areal bombardment of the war to-date, right in-and-around our location.  We got through, but shortly after, I was thrown into the bullet proof windscreen of my armoured vehicle, breaking my back in five places and suffering severe internal injuries, as my SISU driver took evasive action.  Still in the middle of an aerial bombardment, I knew I needed to get my team to safety.  Adrenalin can be a wonderful thing - I was able to resume my position and lead the convoy on our high-speed transit into HQ.

The resilience needed to cope after the injury, was even greater.  My world had been turned upside-down.  I was unceremoniously ‘medically retired’ from the only career I knew, I had lost team mates on the battle field, was suffering survivor guilt and PTSD, I’d become sleep deprived with horrific flashbacks of the war and for years, fought my own Australian Government for health cover.  I had become severely depressed.

It was a long tough road, but on coming out the other side I felt compelled, obliged, to help make positive change to the Australian Government and the United Nations; to ensure lessons were learnt from my experiences, so that other injured veterans did not have to go through the same battles I had in the aftermath of the war.

Next time you ‘cop-a-knock’, dig deep and draw on your resilience.  Never underestimate the role you play as a leader in your own organisation nor underestimate the support you might give someone going through a tough time, as it might just be your words of encouragement that help them make the positive changes needed to turn their life around and have a fantastic future ahead.

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Sales Resilience

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