In school, if you get 95 out of 100 questions correct, you get a 95% score.

Much of childhood education grading is done on an objective basis.

However, once you enter the workforce, this changes.

You get promoted based on how others perceive your abilities, as opposed to any objective measure of your abilities.

You get business plans funded based on how investors perceive the return on investment opportunity you’re offering.

You get your technical proposals approved based on how others perceive the validity of your ideas and your ability to bring them to fruition.

I see a lot of engineers and technically-oriented people struggle with this reality.

“My engineering design is objectively superior; I’m baffled as to why it didn’t get approved.”

“My qualifications objectively exceed the other candidates’; I don’t understand why I didn’t get the promotion.”

“My ideas are objectively better than the competing ideas; I don’t get why they didn’t pick my idea.”

The major flaw in this line of thinking is believing that objective reality was ever a factor in the decision-making process. It’s not.

Decisions are made based on people’s perceptions.

This isn’t to say objective value, credentials, and reality don’t matter. They do. However, they matter after the decision is made.

You get the job based on others’ perception of your abilities. You keep the job based on your actual abilities.

Your technical proposal gets approved based on how others perceive your plan. You keep the approval when your plan actually works.

You get the sale based on prospects’ perception of the merits of your product. You keep the customer based on the actual merits of your product.

To take this last analogy further, if you can’t get prospects to buy your product, work on your ability to sell. If you can get customers to buy, but they all refund your product after buying, go work on your product.

The front end of the decision-making process is based on perceptions. The back end is based on reality.

The ideal position to be in is to possess the sales skills to get decisions made in your favor and to possess the actual abilities to get those decisions to stick.

If you find your capabilities, ideas, and proposals consistently get undervalued by the people around you, you don’t have a “technical skills competency” problem. You have an “inability to sell yourself and your ideas” problem.

If this sounds like you, you might consider my program on How to Sell Your Ideas in Everyday Life. It will be available for a limited time next month.

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