Allow for Gravity: Speaking of Selling Yourself

By Barry Maher

If you aim at a target a long way off, you have to take gravity into consideration. You aim above the target.

Aim above your goal. Tell people the higher goal is the one you want to reach. Never even mention the lower one. You’re selling yourself to those around you (and to yourself) with a strategy that retailers and salespeople have been using successfully for eons.

You go into Harry’s Haberdashery thinking you’d like to buy a $300 suit. Harry sells you on the benefits of the $900 suit. It’s a far better suit with double stitching and superior fabric, and it makes you look like Brad Pitt. Still $900 is too much money for you and though you’d like it, you end up settling on a $600 suit that has a number of the same qualities that Harry sold you on, and makes you look like Michael Douglas. If he’d tried to sell you that $600 suit in the first place, you probably would have settled on a $400 suit that makes you look like your Uncle Ralph.

If your boss thinks you’re shooting for CEO and knows you’re readying yourself for that, how can she not promote you to assistant plant manager? If the powers-that-be know you’re preparing yourself to be regional director, they might not promote you that far, at least not yet. But they might make you area manager. If you’d simply prepared yourself to be area manager, you could have been just one of several with the same qualifications. They may well have picked someone else.

If CEO is your goal, the sooner you start thinking of yourself as a future CEO, the sooner your superiors will too. That’s the career path you want to be on, and it’s never too soon to get on it. Ultimately, if you aim for CEO and “fail,” you may end up as a vice president. Aim for store manager and even when you succeed you’ll be way below the vice president who “failed” to make CEO.

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