Mental Recession

Sen. Phil Graham was recently attacked for saying, “The US is a ‘nation of whiners’ and we are in as much of a ‘mental recession’ than an economic recession.”

I could not agree more. Sure we’re in a time of economic shift but we’re ALWAYS in a time of economic shift. When the economy is shifting up we take it for granted (although most people then find something else about which to complain. When it’s down, we feel personally slighted, “how dare you do this to me!!”

The United States has weathered major economic challenges in the 1890s, the 1920s, the 1980s and today. This won’t be the last one.

The thing is, to the extent that we participate in the recession mentally we participate economically. I know of a man who, every time I talk to him, has the latest tale of economic woe and how his business is not doing well as a result of the economy. Knowing him as I do, I have no doubt that the economy has effected his business but not nearly to the extent as he has created this reality with his own thinking.

What I mean is that he has, in my opinion. failed to try as diligently or creatively to create new business for himself. He goes in to the office expecting things not to work out and, well, they don’t. A true self-fulfilling prophecy.

20 years ago, I was selling radio advertising for a living. At one point, the Arbitron radio station ratings came out and, somehow, 25% of our audience had switched to other radio stations during the one rating period. Was this frightening? Sure. Challenging? You betcha. But I decided that my clients didn’t care how many people listened to our station, they cared how many people walked into their businesses and I worked harder.

Other salespeople, without realizing it, cut back on their efforts and took every little setback as proof of the futility of working hard. They scaled back their efforts whereas I cranked mine up. That month, I sold nearly $60,000 in new advertising (my cut was 12%–and 20 years ago, $7200 in one month was good money–heck, it still is). Others wanted to write it off as luck. But you and I know the truth.

Phil Graham should be given a medal or at least a gold-plated Complaint Free Bracelet.

-Will Bowen

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