Sales Leadership Lesson #2 from the Movie “Elf”

Fighting for your vices

One of the most common leadership pitfalls is not recognizing when some kind of behavior has become a vice.  Vices prevent great coaching and leadership.  Ironically, leaders fight for their vices all the time.

They just don’t know any better.

In the movie “Elf” starring Will Ferrell as Buddy the Elf and James Caan as his father, Caan is surprised one Christmas when Buddy shows up and tells him that he is Buddy’s father. After first denying it (a typical blindspot), Caan accepts it but keeps Buddy at a distance.

Eventually Caan is pressured by his wife and son to take Buddy into their home.  Buddy is a train wreck with everything.  He unwittingly sabotages Caan’s meetings.  To Caan, Buddy is a nightmare that won’t go away.  He cannot see the good in Buddy, can’t see Buddy’s enormous heart and love for the joyful part of the commercial Christmas, because Buddy is a polar opposite of the father.

Caan’s blindspot is he fights to hold onto the world he has created because that world brings him joy.  Ironically, he would have far greater joy if he gave that up.  His professional success, his lifestyle, his routines, his status all mean too much to him.  Anything that challenges this world is a virus that must be eliminated.  Bringing another person into his life would be too disruptive.  It’s not something Caan planned for.  It’s not something he is open to.

I fought for many years for the vice of  an image I wanted to convey to the world as I built a business.  I was into appearances.  The casualty that I couldn’t see (blindspot) was in my being emotionally distant from my family and disconnected from my community.  Yet I convinced myself I was working so hard and building the business, not for me, but for my family.  When I admitted to myself that I was doing it for me, I had a breakthrough.

What vices do you fight for? Is it envy for what others have and you don’t?  Is it the image that you crave from a title?  Is it relentless achieving?  Is it a beef with a neighbor who’s wrong and you’re right (pride)?  Is it with a salesperson  who’s not taking your coaching?  Do you judge him and see him as a problem to be fixed?  These vices that you fight for prevent you from emerging as a greater coach and leader because they trap you in a small world.  A world of scarcity, not a world of abundance.

I’d like to see you keep fighting – but aim the fight at your ego.  It’s the source of energy of fighting for your vices.  Don’t let your ego “rescue” you when you’re faced with the choice of being honest with yourself, or continuing to keep your distance.

Good Selling,


Mark Sellers

Author, Blindspots: The Hidden Killer of Sales Coaching, and The Funnel Principle: What Every Salesperson Must Know About Selling

Creator of the BuyCycle Funnel customer buying journey sales model, the most time tested, proven customer buying journey model on the market

Buy the book Blindspots here

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