You are as good as the options you have.
One can have a high level of competence but unless one has options, it is difficult to be confident and assertive. When is your ability to negotiate the terms of your employment higher? When you are still interviewing or after you are already an employee? When you are interviewing, you have the option but not the obligation to accept. If you do not like what is on offer, you can walk away without losing anything. Once you have signed up for something, you give up a good chunk of the bargaining power you have.
Competence alone beyond a threshold does not help one get ahead in life, barring exceptional situations. In life we do not get what we deserve, we get what we work for. More importantly we get what we negotiate. Negotiating a better deal is next to impossible unless one can create the perception that better options are available.
As is the case with most things in life, directly stating that you have other options rarely works well. That you have options needs to be communicated indirectly through your body language and other subtle tells. Your body language and confidence subconsciously improve when you have options.
Contrary to romanticized notions of committing to a single option and sticking to it no matter what, one is usually better off exploring other options before making decisions that can affect your life in the long term. The frustration of having consigned oneself to a path based on romanticized notions too early is an unsaid and unexpressed regret that many people have. Observe carefully and you will see this all around you across multiple aspects of life, just because something is not acknowledged openly does not mean that it does not exist. As Taleb says, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Anyone who has spent a respectable amount of time selling will tell you that rejection rarely hurts. You read that right, rejection stings but does not hurt. If you are scared of rejection, you are a rookie salesman. Experienced salesmen worry about false positives, in other words when you believe you have a prospect but the said prospect has no interest in what you have to offer. In such a situation you waste time running behind a mirage which only pulls away further the more you chase.
Experienced salesmen understand the power of NEXT, it is not just the prospect who can NEXT you, you can NEXT prospects too. It is only when you do not exercise the power of NEXT that you end up wasting time. Would you rather be rejected in the second meeting or in the tenth meeting? Rejection is a part of any process that drives you to get better, accept it as reality and spend time generating a long enough prospect list so that you can keep NEXTing prospects who aren’t enthused enough about you.
The real challenge in sales is the operational part that calls for emotional fortitude. The ability to deal with rejection multiple times in a week and not let that affect your mental state is a very handy skill. Those who have never sold look at the discussions that go on during the sales meetings and go “Hmm, I can do this too”. It takes months of follow up to put multiple decision makers in the same room, at the same time, to meet the “solution experts” from the selling team. These “solution experts” walk away from these meetings thinking the deal happens because of them but they do not know half of what goes on behind the scenes. Out of sight is out of mind.
I spent almost four years doing a few cold calls every other day, it wasn’t pretty. But that is when I built the fortitude needed to build a prospect list, if not for that experience I would have never understood the power of NEXT.
Think this applies to sales alone? Applies to stock pickers too!
The possibility of you chasing higher prices is greater if you have a list of 15 prospective stocks rather than 50 prospective stocks.
When you can walk away from options that are seemingly good but aren’t the best fit for you, only then do you have some semblance of power.