Do you know of Frank Bettger? He was a professional baseball player in the early 1900s, who played for Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the Tri-State League. He was young, ambitious, and wanted to get to the top—then he was fired. The coach, Bert Conn, told Frank, "You're lazy. You drag yourself around the field like a veteran who has been playing ball for 20 years. Why do you act that way if you're not lazy?"
Frank told his coach, "I'm so nervous, so scared, that I want to hide my fear from the crowd, especially from the other players on the team. I hope that by taking it easy I'll get rid of my nervousness."
Frank's coach said, "Frank, it will never work. That's the thing that is holding you down. Whatever you do after you leave here, for heaven's sake, wake yourself up, and put some life and enthusiasm into your work."
Frank had been making $175 a month at Johnstown. Remember, this was in the early 1900s, so $175 a month was pretty impressive. After being fired, Frank went to Chester, Pennsylvania, to work in the Atlantic League. His pay was $25 per month. Frank didn't think he could be very enthusiastic making $25 a month, but eventually, he did begin to act enthusiastic. After being on the Chester team for three days, an old ball player, Danny Meehan, came up to Frank and said, "Frank what in the world are you doing here in a rank bushleague?" Frank told him, "Well, Danny, if I knew how to get a better job, I'd go anywhere."
A week later, Danny encouraged the New Haven, Connecticut, team to give Frank a trial. No one knew Frank in that league, so he made a resolution that nobody would ever accuse Frank Bettger of being lazy. He made up his mind to establish a reputation of being the most enthusiastic ball player they'd ever seen. He thought that if he could establish such a reputation then he would have to live up to it.
From the moment he arrived on the field he acted like a man electrified; he acted as though he was alive with a million batteries. He threw the ball around the diamond so fast and hard that he almost knocked the other players down. Once, apparently trapped, Frank slid into third base with such force that the third baseman fumbled the ball and Frank was able to score an important run. The thermometer that day was showing 100 degrees, so no one would have been surprised if Frank dropped over with sunstroke the way he was running around the field.
Did it work? It worked like magic. Three things happened:
His enthusiasm almost entirely overcame his fear.
His enthusiasm affected the other players on the team. They, too, became enthusiastic.
Instead of dropping from the heat, he felt better during and after the game. He felt better than he had ever felt before.
Frank's biggest thrill came the next day when he read the New Haven newspaper: "This new player, Bettger, has a barrel of enthusiasm. He inspired our boys. They not only won the game, but also looked better than they have all season." The newspaper began calling him "Pep" Bettger.
Within 10 days Frank's income went from $25 a month to $185 a month—a 700-percent increase. He got the stupendous increase in income not because he could throw a ball better, catch better, or hit better, not because he had any more ability as a ball player.
Within two years of the time Frank was hoping to get the $25 a month job with the Chester team, he was playing for the St. Louis Cardinals and making 30 times as much as he had made in the minor league.
What happened? Frank discovered one of the great secrets of life. He acted a certain way and then began to feel that way. Soon after, he was that way. Frank didn't have anything to be enthusiastic about, but he acted enthusiastic. After acting enthusiastically, he began to feel enthusiastic. And from his feelings of enthusiasm he became enthusiastic. He learned the lesson of focus. What you focus on will become your reality.
Frank Bettger became a part of the Dale Carnegie organization and repeated this story hundreds times to audiences all over the world and included it in his book, How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling.
The story of my father's accident and how he dealt with it illustrates the ability to affect our world internally. When my father consciously told himself he would never again experience a backache, he was commanding his subconscious to make it true. This entire process and outcome was internal to my father. On the other hand, Frank Bettger's story illustrates how this same process can change the world around us. Frank consciously thought about acting enthusiastic. His subconscious mind took this command and made Frank feel enthusiastic. Acting and feeling enthusiastic led to being enthusiastic. This enthusiasm influenced the people surrounding Frank. Frank's thoughts objectified themselves in his external world. Our conscious thoughts affect our subconscious minds and become reality in the world we live. What we think about manifests in our lives both internally and externally.
This phenomenon is known as the law of life. The law of life is also known as the law of belief. Simply stated, the law of belief says, "We don't always get what we want, but we do always get what we truly believe." What we truly believe becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This prophecy begins with our deepest habitual thoughts. These thoughts are accepted by the subconscious mind and are recorded as our reality. This reality objectifies itself in our world and completes the prophecy. The three phases are belief, results, and recognition. Because we believe, we get results. Because we see results, we recognize our beliefs and the process begins again.
So what do broken bones, baseball, and how our brains work have to do with getting your customers to buy from you again and again? Your deepest thoughts and what you focus on as a businessperson or sales professional will determine your reality. If you are focusing on getting new customers, you will, in fact, do the things necessary to gain new customers. If you are focusing on customer loyalty, your thoughts will drive you to serve your existing customers. This is the first of three ways focus affects customer loyalty. Focus determines how we think about our business and ourselves.