I was watching the recently released HBO documentary, The Defiant Ones, the other day. If you haven’t watched this 4-part series featuring the careers of the legendary record producer, Jimmy Iovine, and the rap artist and producer, Dr. Dre, you should. It’s about their rise to the top of their game and if you’re an entrepreneur there are many lessons to take away from it.
So Jimmy’s talking to the camera at one point and he makes reference to blinders, the kind they put on horses.
Did you know that horse’s eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads? This is because horses were traditionally a hunted animal. Not hunters. They have peripheral vision…so they can see everything around them—see predators coming at them from a distance. It sounds like a good thing, and at times it can be. It also presents a problem when they are asked to race. Because they can see things on their sides and slightly behind them, they can end up getting distracted and run off course.
Professional trainers place blinders on their racehorses. Blinders keep the horse’s eyes focused on what’s ahead, rather than what’s at their side or behind them. What the horses around them are doing doesn’t distract racehorses wearing blinders.
Jimmy Iovine, a street hustler from Brooklyn, was trying to describe one of his great strengths as an entrepreneur. When he wants to achieve something he puts his blinders on. Then he stares straight ahead. He’s not distracted. He doesn’t see or hear what others around him are doing.
Jimmy is a rare animal. But you and I are also rare animals. We’re willing to take risk and put ourselves out there every day without a safety net. But it’s not enough just to be in the game. We have to also figure out how to train ourselves to block certain things out so we can stay focused long enough to win the game.
We can learn something here from horse trainers and Jimmy Iovine.
Don’t get me wrong. You can learn a lot from observing the people around you. So I’m not saying you shouldn’t look around at the results of others. If your peers are having superior results, by all means, look at what they’re doing and try to steal a best practice or two from them.
What I AM saying is that distractions are everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE.
If you want to achieve something as a salesperson with your company, or as a sales leader with your team, or as an entrepreneur with your product or organization, then stop looking around for the sake of just looking around. In fact, stop hearing things. Stop listening to anyone that’s telling you that you can’t do what you want to do, or that it’s, “Real hard,” or that, “Most people fail,” or any of the other random nonsense.
Stop worrying about what others are DOING or SAYING around you. If they are moving faster than you, who cares? If they are moving slower, who cares? If they are saying it can’t be done…who cares? None of that sh*t matters. Put on your blinders and look straight ahead at your goal and objective.
Jimmy Iovine, the street hustler, did.
Andre Young (Dr. Dre) did.
There was white noise coming at them from every direction. Dre grew up poor, living on the streets of Compton. Jimmy Iovine’s father worked the docks in New York and wanted Jimmy to work the docks too. All Jimmy and Dre wanted to do was make great and memorable music. They wanted to make an imprint on their industry. The two guys that didn’t attend college now have an entire academy named after them at USC.
Their blinders were on.
They knew what they wanted to achieve. They weren’t worried about who was saying they couldn’t. After many bumps and grinds and setbacks they forged successful music industry careers separately. Then those careers intersected. Then piracy and eventually streaming happened and threatened to kill (or at least damage) their industry. But they were both looking ahead. And they got an idea called Beats. And that idea developed and morphed into more than just headphones.
And then Apple paid them 3.2 billion.
Do you have your blinders on?
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on the roles of direct selling, entrepreneurialism and leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©.