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Written in 1968, The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino teaches that to achieve any goal, you need to develop the habits and attitudes of a great salesperson, which means acquiring self-confidence, emotional control, persistence, generosity, humor, and humility. The book’s ten principles (contained in the scrolls) provide a framework centered around positive thinking and self-discipline, the building blocks of any kind of self-improvement.
Below is a selection of The Greatest Salesman In the World quotes with explanations.
The Greatest Salesman in the World: Quotes by Og Mandino
Part self-help techniques, part sales manual, and part Christian allegory, The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino addresses ways we can establish daily habits to strengthen our resolve and character, which will help us achieve our goals. The book’s title is slightly misleading—you’ll find no strategies for how to negotiate a cold call or close a deal. Instead, the story “sells” the premise that becoming a great salesperson means developing a better, stronger version of yourself through good habits, discipline, perseverance, and self-control.
The following The Greatest Salesman in the World quotes highlight the key lessons contained in the ancient scrolls.
“Only a habit can subdue another habit.
The first scroll teaches that the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a better alternative. If you indulge in good habits all day, there’s no time or space for bad habits. For example, if you want to sell more widgets, then fill your waking hours making sales calls rather than with frivolous pastimes. Repetition is the key to forming good habits—constant practice makes any task easy.
“I will greet this day with love in my heart.”
Here, Og Mandino is referring to the message contained in the second scroll. The second scroll reminds you to project love to everyone and everything around you. Eliminate negativity, pessimism, criticism, and ill will from your thinking. Remember that every person you meet is valuable in their own way, even if their admirable qualities are hidden. Treat them with love, appreciation, gratitude, and respect. (Shortform note: The TV personality Mr. Rogers used to say there isn’t anyone you can’t love once you’ve heard their story.) Even people who don’t like you may soften up if you treat them with love and understanding.
Frame your thinking and actions from a loving heart:
- Actively search for goodness in others
- Resist the temptation to criticize
- Express joy in other people’s achievements
- Praise and flatter even your enemies so they become your friends
While you’re loving everyone else, remember also to love yourself. Scroll #2 reminds you to treat yourself with kindness and respect—keep your body clean and healthy, your soul pure, and your mind positive.
“I will persist until I succeed. I was not delivered into this world into defeat, nor does failure course in my veins. I am not a sheep waiting to be prodded by my shepherd. I am a lion and I refuse to talk, to walk, to sleep with the sheep. The slaughterhouse of failure is not my destiny. I will persist until I succeed.”
Scroll #3 tells us that each attempt at selling is like an axe striking at a mighty tree. The first, second, and hundredth strike may do little or nothing, but if you keep swinging the axe, the tree will eventually fall. You’ll close the sale.
When a customer says “no” to buying your product, do not see it as a failure. Reframe all failures as challenges. Reject the concept of failure—anything you might call a failure can just as easily be labeled an obstacle or a learning experience. Remove words like “quit” and “cannot” and “hopeless” from your vocabulary. A great salesperson is never daunted by “no” because “no” is just a stepping stone to “yes.”
Simultaneously, also remember that perseverance requires patience. Success rarely comes at the start of a project; it usually comes after overcoming various obstacles along the way.
“I will live this day as if it is my last. …I will waste not a moment mourning yesterday’s misfortunes, Yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw good after bad?”
The lesson of the Scroll #5 is to aim to make each day the best day of your life. Time is a rare and fleeting gift, so orient your mind toward the present and cherish each hour of every day. Don’t defer your dreams by procrastinating, ruminating on the past, or daydreaming about the future. Live well now—today is a gift that if squandered, you can never get back. All you have is now—this moment—so use it to your advantage.
“If I feel depressed I will sing. If I feel sad I will laugh. If I feel ill I will double my labor. If I feel fear I will plunge ahead. If I feel inferior I will wear new garments. If I feel uncertain I will raise my voice. If I feel poverty I will think of wealth to come. If I feel incompetent I will remember past success. If I feel insignificant I will remember my goals. Today I will be master of my emotions.”
Scroll #6 says that you must take charge of your emotions. Every day you awaken in some kind of mood, and it’s probably different from the mood of yesterday morning or last night. Emotions ebb and flow. Don’t let yourself toss in the rough waves of your moods or be a slave to the vagaries of your emotions. You can control your moods by taking specific actions.
Decide that you will make your own internal weather. Learn what triggers your emotions and take steps to control, alleviate, or negate those triggers. For example, when you’re feeling sad, share a joke with someone. Scroll #6 states that actions combat moods: “If I feel incompetent, I will remember past successes” and “if I feel depressed, I will sing.”
“And so long as I can laugh never will I be poor.”
Scroll #7 states that laughing at the world is good medicine, and laughing at yourself is even better. Humans are far from perfect, so we need to stop expecting perfection of ourselves. Don’t fixate on life’s minor problems, and don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes.
Laughter has a way of reducing problems to a smaller size; a sense of humor improves almost any situation. Cultivate a light-hearted perspective so that small annoyances don’t get the better of you. On the rare days when your troubles are too heavy for you to laugh at, repeat four words to yourself: “This too shall pass.” Situations in your life are constantly in flux, so whatever is true now will be different in the future. Neither bad news nor good news is permanent.
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Greatest Salesman in the World summary:
- An allegory for how to live your life more successfully
- 10 principles that can make anyone a great salesperson
- How to become a better, stronger version of yourself—salesperson or not