October 1


Keeping your cool in Sales: What I learnt from my week with the ‘Iceman’ himself; Wim Hof

There I stood, uncontrollably shivering and with a mouth slowly filling with blood.

The outside air temperature was minus 4 degrees Celsius and the flowing river I had just walked out of was sub-zero too.

It was only Day 1 and I had just experienced a very uncomfortable awakening:

My ego had gotten the better of me.

“I’ve failed the first test. What’s next? How will I cope?” I thought to myself in that exact moment.

Yet I still had another 4 more days ahead of me with Wim Hof and his group in Poland.

Woah, backup a minute Tom. Who is Wim Hof, why were you in dangerously cold water freezing your nuts off...and what on earth does any of this have to do with Sales?

Sure, I hear you.


Let’s start with Wim Hof.

Many of you may have heard of Wim; a Dutch super-athlete who rose to fame first in the Netherlands and then beyond for his ‘superman’ feats, including;

  • Actually warming his body up while fully submerged in ice for close to 2 hours
  • Running a full marathon in the Namib Desert without any water
  • Climbing Kilimanjaro in just his shorts, shoes and without breathing equipment in under 2 days

Each of these would almost certainly kill a ‘normal’ person - so I’ve always been intrigued by him.

Though I do not desire to repeat these specific feats myself, I was certainly attracted to his claims that anybody can get to this level.

Then seeing apparently ‘ordinary people’ (like me) cope with the cold exposure and the heights, I explored further before signing up to his private retreat.

For Me, It's Personal:

More than all this just being cool (pun fully intended), this all had deeper meaning for me. For those that know, back then I struggled with a deep underlying chronic auto-immune condition (Crohn's Disease), and it wreaked havoc for me throughout my twenties, particularly in the often stress-filled sales environment.

A MAJOR attraction to Wim Hof and his methods was the frequent claims of his followers of massively reducing or even reversing chronic conditions like Crohn's, like Arthritis, and even Cancer.

I was here more in search of 'a cure' rather than just for a bit of challenging fun.

POLAND 2019:

Skip ahead to early January 2019 where I had the pleasure of spending a week with Wim and a large group at his private retreat on the Polish / Czech Republic border - surrounded on all sounds by beautiful mountains and crystal-clear rivers.

It was beautiful.

It felt so primal.

It was also incredibly cold. 

Aside from the aforementioned primary reason (seeking a cure), I also wanted to overcome some fears; of extreme cold, of heights and of open water…and in turn to further boost my self-esteem;

To be clear, I am talking about that fine line of self-esteem between being self-assured and being outright arrogant.

These may not be the most life-affecting fears out there, but I determined that if I could overcome these for myself, then I would be able to tackle more medial 'day-to-day worries' with relative ease and in turn, further lead others and inspire/guide my coaching clients too.

Frozen In Oblivion:

I only had a rough idea of what would be involved in that week ahead:

  • Cold exposure on Day 1 + likely going into the water in just my shorts each day thereafter, at least
  • A climb in just my shorts and shoes up one of the local, snow-covered mountains at some point

I also knew I'd be fed twice per day and have a bed for each night.

That was it.

This not-knowing factor did leave me and the others with a feeling each day of minor dread (there was always a queue for the toilet in the mornings due to a lot of nervy stomachs all-round) - but I began to accept it over the week and to trust in the process overall.

My pre-planned method to get through this tough, painful and certainly uncomfortable week ahead?


Turn up strong, push through and fight the fear I thought.

Hey, like you I’ve coped with major deals falling through, staff leaving, the threat of being fired and multiple hard end-of-quarters too.

How hard can submerging in ice water and climbing a mountain in just my shorts really be!?!

That’s sarcasm of course, I was rather scared about this week ahead.

I’ll keep the activities we did rather brief in this article but do feel free to DM me if you’d like to know more about Wim or any of the experience, I’d be happy to share. I will say that Wim and his teams' work and focus is largely around empowering people, and it's truly incredible - it really deserves more research and awareness than it gets (though it seems to be forever changing for the better).

The Week:

On Day 1 we were semi-prepped for entering the water. We had completed the breathing exercises in the morning, and we had a group discussion on how and why hyperthermia sets in and how to become more aware this for obvious safety reasons.

Did it help calm my nerves? Hmmm, probably not.

But I was ready to get in the water and stay there, nonetheless (mind over matter, remember?)

And I did just that.

Myself and another ‘tough guy’ agreed upfront that we would stay put in the water up to our shoulders 'no matter what' for at least 3 minutes; We ended up both outstaying the rest of the group...but very much outstayed our welcome in the water, too.

It was stupid!

We survived in there for nearly 4 minutes and it was only when I saw the struggle on his face that I realized (note; begrudgingly accepted) how much I was ignoring my own struggle too.

I got out – exhausted, freezing, shivering and feeling beaten.

That’s when the tongue-biting and the bleeding started.

I couldn’t stop my teeth chattering from the shivering and I had to consciously keep my tongue out of the way of my clamping teeth.

I learnt a harsh lesson on Day 1 – "Control that damn Ego, Thomas!"

As the week went by, we continued with the cold exposure daily; entering the water for increasing lengths of time each day and eventually climbing the mountain in just our shorts and shoes on Day 4.

I like most found the week hard, but then on Day 5 I awoke with a very different feeling.

I was actually excited about the tough day ahead.

I was no longer trying to psyche myself up for what might lay ahead, rather I knew it was going to be hard and I...

I Just. Accepted. It.

The water was going to be bone-numbingly cold and brutal.

I had surrendered to the inevitable.

I was no longer trying to control the uncontrollable.

I even looked forward to the 10+ minute sub-zero water immersion we had planned later that day (despite a 5 minute immersion just 2 days before being an immense struggle).

The surrounding nature, the glimmering of the sun through the trees, the beauty of the ice that had formed around the river – today I REALLY paid attention to it properly for the first time. 

This was truly the day I switched from fighting to accepting.

I wasn’t rolling over and giving up; that would have meant avoiding the water altogether.

No, instead I was accepting of the facts that it was dangerous IF I didn’t release and I prepared to adapt and accept.

By the time we entered the water for that final 10-minute plunge, I was calm and fully immersed into what I was doing. I was fully present and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

I went there to learn the How (a cure) but I left with much more; the What, the Why and for me...the Who.

To summarise the week in a single sentence is difficult, but it’s fair to say that I took away MUCH more than I had hoped to gain from it.


Here are my big takeaways for those of you in Sales / Business;

1.      Control that ego:

On Day 1, my ego lead me. I was in my head, pushing myself and reminding myself of other tough times that I’ve been through. It helped me get in the water, to brave the elements, sure. However, I certainly wasn’t relaxed or accepting of my current situation and so I struggled to cope.

There is a fine line between giving up too easily and refusing to accept something, and that fine line is largely defined by how well you manage your ego.

In Sales:

In Sales, I’ve seen great salespeople fall apart very quickly when they’ve allowed their ego to take over. Fears of being seen to be stupid, underperforming, lacking confidence and so on have lead otherwise successful sales professionals to refuse to ask for help, to lie to themselves and ultimately to ignore their own reality; much to their own detriment.

It’s not a good place to be.

It’s also what Carol Dweck terms Fixed-Mindset (vs. the desirable Growth-Mindset).

We cannot grow unless we first acknowledge our situation, however perilous it may be.

By Day 5 I had accepted my fate. I had signed up for this. I knew it would be tough, but I also knew that I could do it and instead I focused on enjoying the experience rather than trying to ‘beat it’.

2.      Being uncomfortable brings out the truth:

As Wim says, you cannot just claim you’re calm in sub-zero water. When it’s that cold, you cannot lie to yourself, it's f'ing cold! You're either calm and you can cope, or you’re not calm and you suffer.

If you start going into your head, like what someone thinks of you or whether that big deal will come in…you WILL start to freeze.

In Sales:

It’s very much the same in Sales. You can read all the books and attend all the seminars, but until you are in an uncomfortable position, you do not have the chance to be truthful with yourself; and therefore, you cannot truly grow.

In other words, you cannot become great at something until you are doing it.

I’m all for continuous learning, but I frequently speak with sales people who are completely overwhelmed by their over-consumption of books, podcasts, articles and more which only leads to further inaction and paralysis-by-analysis.

It’s a tough spot to fall into and with all of the distractions and the lucrative ‘personal development’ industry around us trying to take our dollars, it’s an easy trap to fall into and a hard one to get out of.

As an author I'm fond of (Ryan Holiday) says, The Obstacle Is The Way.

That which you fear (the obstacle), is the way forwards - requiring you to become uncomfortable and lead with courage over fear.

So go get in that proverbial ice-pool and freeze your proverbial bits off!

3.      Exposure is tough, but it is the best way to grow:

Avoiding uncomfortable situations denies one the chance to be exposed to and therefore learn and grow from an experience.

Just as your body repairs, strengthens and builds immunity, your mind gets stronger IF you allow it to, too.

In Sales:

You may not wish to climb a mountain in just your shorts, but you may wish to improve your confidence in communicating with C-level executives, for example.

Through coaching dozens of sales professionals, I’ve seen previously average-performing and fearful salespeople transform into star performers in nearly no-time. It's their willingness to Invest in themselves (hint: Exposure + Commitment) that first enables such growth to occur.

Want to get better in communicating with C-level? Then seek to gain exposure to them, learn how they talk, think and act and take every chance you can to meet and speak with them in whatever capacity you can.

4.      Showing up is half the battle:

Getting into the icey water at the start is the first step.

But again, ego often plays a part whereby some salespeople struggle to progress.

It is the self-expectation that one should be able to do something that they (currently) cannot that actually causes fear and frustration, often leading to self-doubt.

"I SHOULD be good at this, but I'm not. So I must be bad/weak/a failure..."

Michael Jordan didn’t hit 3 pointers on Day 1. He trained. A LOT!

In Sales:

It’s constant comparing of oneself to others in sales and life, rather than focusing on where one is against one's own potential.

My clients (Empowered Sellers) know this truth:

The only competition that exists is the person you see in the mirror.

My clients rise above their demons, commit to personal growth and take aligned action on their path, not someone else's.

The truth is, even for the most experienced and successful salespeople, it is possible to feel like one has gone (or is going) backwards – they feel they are no longer good at things they were previously great at.

That’s when fear and frustration can REALLY kick in.

Again, being able to accept this current state, to control one’s emotions and then starting with THE most vital step; stepping into the ice and showing up - is half the battle.

5.      But, just dipping your toe in may give you a false sense of reality; You need to commit:

It is very common for people to try different things at times in their life half-heartedly, only to decide it’s not for them or they’re not very good at it (admittedly I have an exhaustive list of things I've 'tried' in my life).

You could argue it’s natural. The brain always seeks the path of least resistance and will attempt to 'protect' the body and mind.

The problem with this reality is that simply by trying something without full focus, effort or care, one can actually gain a false sense of reality.

I learnt this clearly through the week with Wim.

If I had judged my future ability to cope in sub-zero water based on my experience on Day 1, and especially if I was without the expert guidance from Wim, I would likely have given up.

Yet it was the commitment to the work, trusting in the process and taking aligned action that lead me to continuously improve by learning and iterating.

In Sales:

The same is true in Sales. Far too often I see salespeople overwhelming themselves by constantly changing tactics, trying new hacks and tricks and realigning their strategy; we call these Opportunity Seekers, and unfortunately most salespeople fall into this group (I know, I suffered terribly as one myself! (See my LinkedIn About section on my profile).

Opportunity Seekers continuously look outside of themselves and ultimately get nowhere.

It’s a tough place to be when you’re down on your number and you’re starting to lack confidence.

But your logical mind knows this, even if you’re not practising it at the time:

Committing to something, doing it enough times to analyse it (only after you have sufficient data) and then coming back to it after reflection, you will improve.

And so dipping your toe in will only give you an incomplete picture, one that may lead you to quickly chase tactics again or give up too early.


Congratulations if you’ve read this article up to this point.

My bet is that it’s taken you around 10 minutes to get here, which is the same amount of time I survived in the sub-zero water for in just my shorts on Day 5 (wahoo me!)

I achieved that thanks to the guidance of experts like Wim.

If you've read this and the mention of Opportunity Seekers and too many of the challenges resonate with you, then maybe you're here for divine reasons...

My flagship Program The Empowered Seller guides Tired Tech Sales Professionals from overwhelmed Opportunity Seekers -----> fulfilled Empowered Sellers.

Built organically from coaching dozens of sales professionals at companies like AWS, Oracle, SAP and many more, my clients benefit from Cognitive Power Realignment (CPR) on a Program surrounded by other growth-minded sales professionals.

The results are profound; Double Your Earnings, Without The Burnout ✊


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