I still play in adult men's hockey league and recently we finished our winter season. Unlike a few of the past seasons, this one ended with us not only in the playoffs, but with a good chance to win our league. As the playoffs went on we had success in winning our games and found ourselves in the Championship. Now normally there is a little bit more urgency for a playoff game during the game itself but the moment the game is over, whether win or lose, the game is quickly forgotten. But, this game was different, it was a back and forth affair that featured lead changes and a passion not usually seen in a men's league hockey game. Guys were sacrificing their bodies to block shots, which is common in the NHL but is almost never seen in a men's league game. The game ended regulation with a tied score so the game continued into overtime. Much like the first three periods, overtime was hotly contested but unfortunately for my team, we lost.
What surprised me most after the game was how my teammates and I reacted. Normally, if you were to walk into our locker room 5 minutes after the game you would have no idea if we won or lost. It is a men's league game after all, we don't play to win, we play because we love the game. But, after this game we were all visually angry that we lost. There was silence, disbelief, anger, and a general mood that I had not seen after a hockey game since college. On the ride home I started thinking about what was different. Why did we care so much? After all, there are no fans in the stands and nobody is going to be talking about the game the next day. Only the teams that played would even know the result…but it finally hit me a couple of days later: there was a passion that was present in everyone that played this game. The 'why' didn't matter it just was fact that we all really cared if we won or lost this particular game.
I thought of this recently as I was making calls at work. In recent months it has been quite commonplace to call a company looking for a contact that you have been speaking with for months or years only to find out they are no longer with the company. Or to hear that budgets are slashed. Or most depressing, "We just had lay-offs, we are not hiring for the foreseeable future." As a salesperson, what we love is the hunt and the game of negotiations. In this economy, for some months, the only focus has been on just making it through this day, week, or month. And like one of my candidates said to me recently, as salespeople we can handle failure but it is frustrating to not even get a chance to get a chance to bat. It is difficult to recapture lost passion but without it, as salespeople, we are lost. To be successful in sales requires an emotional commitment to fight through all of the negativity that we face every day. For me, I used to brush off the small victories – I now count on them to help me keep my passion every day. How do you fight to keep your passion for selling? And can you recapture it if you lose it?