Principles > Instincts in Sales & Life (Because Principles are Never Wrong)

In July 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr. took off from New Jersey in his small, private plane and headed for the Kennedy compound on Martha’s Vineyard. Even though a storm was rolling in, he made the decision that it was safe to fly. 

But unfortunately, due to heavy cloud cover, he lost sight of land mid-flight and, experts believe, became a victim of the phenomenon known as Spatial Disorientation. This is a condition in which an aircraft pilot’s perception of direction does not agree with reality.

Somehow in the heavy cloud cover, a pilot can become so disoriented that up feels like down and down feels like up and the pilot ends up flying the plane upside down. Can you imagine? Instead of gaining altitude you just slowly run the plane into the ground. 

Experienced pilots will tell you that in these situations you have two options: trust your gut or trust your instruments. 

JFK Jr. trusted his gut and crashed – killing him and his wife.

I remember hearing this story and first thinking how incredibly tragic – but I also saw some similarities to how we all react to a situation when we are “flying blind” or when our perceptions don’t line up with reality. Although not life and death, we are consistently in situations in which we get disoriented and our feelings drive the decisions we make. 

Fortunately, there are “instruments” available to us to help ensure we don’t “crash.”


Principles are your instruments

Unlike a plane’s instruments (which I’m sure can sometimes be faulty), principles are always accurate. If you understand the principle of gravity, you know if you jump you will fall. It’s non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter how you feel. You will fall.

There are not too many things you can truly count on in this world, in your personal life or your sales career, but you can always count on a principle – or a law — that is always true. 

A principle never changes with public opinion or our feelings. It is stable, constant and never wavering. Regardless of what intuition or experience tells you, if you challenge a principle (your instruments), you will always lose. 

Simply put, principles are always true.


But principles don’t always feel true

For example, you may FEEL like you can hide your self-centered motive with a client. Actually, you can’t. Ultimately, motive is transparent (a relational principle), but I have met hundreds of sales reps who believe they can fake it. 

In other words, they are taking on the principle and think they can win, but ultimately, their tone, body language and the words they use will betray their motive. Their filter always breaks down, and ultimately their motive is revealed. And because they trusted their gut and not their instruments, they become another casualty.

The good news – we have instruments to guide us. In some of the most important areas of our life – our critical relationships, our client recommendations, our finances – there are laws at work and if we follow them, our relationships and our bank account will get much healthier (thanks Tony Robbins).

So, if you haven’t already, I would encourage you to begin the process of developing your instruments for the most important areas in your life:

  • Your relationship with your clients, family, and friends.

What are the principles that determine healthy relationships and drive effective communication?

  • Your solution.

What are the undeniable truths related to the solution you offer or the problem your solution addresses, that, if violated, have a predictable result?

  • Your finances. 

What are the instruments that guide you in how you manage your money?

  • Big decisions. 

What are the principles related to making the most important, long term decisions? Should I get married? Should I put my family first or my career first? Should I make a career move? Buy a house?

I believe if you honestly seek the truth, regardless of whether the answers line up with your reality, you will find it. 

Is that a principle? Probably not. But I can promise you this: you will greatly reduce the number of situations in which you were previously flying blind.


Next Actions

If you would like to learn more about what drives ASLAN Training and Development, you can read about our Genesis and also see how we apply some core principles in our Virtual Selling Skills Program. 

This program has helped dozens of companies this year alone make the transition to virtual selling.  This may all be new to some, but for us, we have been doing this since 1996 and would love to help.


As Co-founder and CEO, Tom’s primary role is to create content that helps people live, sell, and serve more effectively. Find him on LinkedIn

1 Comment

  1. Kelly Talamo on September 15, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    That was Rich !!!!

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