This clip from the movie “Secretariat” reminds me of the importance of self-belief and confidence in being an effective negotiator or influencer.

A brief background to the clip – “Secretariat” is based on the true story of an American thoroughbred racehorse that in 1973 became the first U.S. Triple Crown champion in 25 years. It is a tale of triumph over adversity by a wonderful team of people and a horse, led by its inspiring owner, Penny Chenery. Ms. Chenery was a housewife who, on her father’s passing, decides to fulfil her life-long passion for raising champion horses.

Leading up to the scene presented in this clip, Secretariat has won its first few races and is starting to make a name for itself. Ms. Chenery, however, is straddled with a ton of debt. The easy option was to sell the horse and unburden herself and her family of this debt – instead, knowing the horse presented tremendous unrealised potential, she follows her instincts and seeks to raise funds by selling a share of the horse to investors. This scene is about Penny Chenery successfully negotiating and getting her desired value for the horse with a prospective shareholder.

This scene offers the following valuable lessons:

Lesson #1 – Our ability to influence is proportionate with the level of belief we have in whatever we’re trying to sell

Many believe that effective influence is about technique, strategy, what to say, when, how. They are often concerned about whether or not they have the relevant experience or credibility. These indeed are valuable. However, the most important factor I believe is the level of conviction you have in your idea, product, service or offering.

In this scene, despite lacking the experience and a proven track record, Ms. Chenery successfully sways her investor’s opinion through her strength of conviction in her team and horse’s ability to deliver. Her personal strength of character and tenacity would also have given her investor confidence, despite all logic suggesting that the risks outweighed the outlay.

Today, think about a situation where you might have been less than successful in influencing a decision. How strong was your level of conviction in your idea or solution? Did the way you communicate convey this strong sense of certainty? How can you strengthen your belief? Could you read and learn more about it’s effectiveness, or reflect on the many benefits the idea presents to the other party?

Lesson #2: Champions back themselves and play to win, not “to avoid losing”

In a separate scene leading up to the negotiation segment, Ms. Chenery’s brother and husband argue strongly for the sale of Secretariat in order to ease the burden of debt left behind by her father. You can view this clip here ->

Her determined response reveals her innermost thoughts – “My father came from nothing. And his legacy to me isn’t money. It’s the will to win if you can, and live with it if you can’t. This is about life being ahead of you and you run at it. Because you never know how far you can go unless you run.

What an inspiring philosophy. It’s certainly part of the legacy I would love to leave with my kids.

Make this the most outstanding day you deserve!

Your friend,