This article was originally published on Q4intelligence Crushing Mediocrity blog
I watch faces and body language as we introduce ideas in sales training sessions and I see the discomfort. The flight instinct is kicking in and some people look like they want to run away or throw up.
Maybe they’re thinking how much work lies ahead. Or maybe it’s questioning the way they’ve worked up to this point. Maybe it’s a feeling of inadequacy that they haven’t been doing as well as they thought. Maybe it’s a “No f’in way I’d make this change!” Maybe a combo of all of it.
I’ve been there. I’ve gotten into projects and hit the panic button. I’ve started a new activity with great enthusiasm only to feel like, “No f’in way am I going to continue this! I should just leave now.”
I’ve also had people call me out on my panic and hold my feet to the fire long enough to get over the difficult stage. Home construction projects. Volunteer positions. “Fun” activities. Childbirth. Building new websites. Creating large new programs. Nothing has been safe from my panic button.
I’ve needed some tough love to get through the tough parts. And you probably do, too.
Who holds your feet to the fire? Who calls BS on you when you pull up excuses for not doing things you know you want/need to do? Who do you explore ideas with before you get to the commitment stage?
I’m guessing for many of you, the answer is, “No one.” And that’s where the breakdown really happens.
We gain strength and confidence from one another, and if left to think of everything and rationalize decisions on our own, we find ourselves in a closed-loop system. We need outside inputs, people with different perspectives weighing in, offering alternatives, questioning us. We need the input from others who see us differently than we may see ourselves; someone who may see potential where we don’t and push us beyond boundaries we might not feel are possible within our closed-loop thoughts.
Who do you talk to?
We all need someone or a few someones. Without a thinking partner or an accountability partner, the chances of getting off track are way too great. If you don’t have someone, consider your options.
If you have a business partner, that’s a great place to start. If you need to open up that relationship for more in-depth conversations, find the first steps and get it going.
A spouse can be a great partner depending on individual interests. Talking at someone isn’t a good relationship builder, but if your spouse is genuinely interested, you may find some refreshingly honest perspective.
A business advisor is there for just this purpose, but it’s one you pay for. If the advisor/coach only tells you what you want to hear and doesn’t challenge you, you should look for a new one.
Peer groups can be incredibly valuable for kicking around ideas and getting an enthusiastic support group behind you. They can also steer you in a direction that may not be in your best interest, so you have to approach this with a clear mind. Ensure that you’re not just pursuing the fun/interesting/easy over the necessary/important/difficult.
But we’ve always done it this way
As Kevin said, if you want to grab the branch of "what can be,” you’ve got to find a way to cut yourself free of the choking vine of "the way it’s always been." And cutting yourself free of that choking vine means getting rid of the old ways and beliefs that have the chokehold on you.
Your planning season is a perfect time for a conversation about changing beliefs and behaviors. While you’re meeting as a team on your agency planning, take some time to think through the excuses that permeate the organization:
- But I have a system already – I use a pile of sticky notes
- I keep it in my head
- I’m better when I wing it and worse when I practice
- I don’t have the time
- We don’t have the budget
- Our clients/prospects won’t make that kind of time for us
- Our clients/prospects don’t want to hear about anything from us except insurance
- Our team would never do that
- We don’t know how to do that
Write out your excuses and dissect them
What is the foundation of the belief?
Why do you have this belief or behavior? Why do you continue with it? What are your feelings about it? What are your fears about changing it?
What would happen if you changed it?
What’s the worst case scenario if you change the behavior or belief? What’s the best case scenario if you change it?
Our beliefs hold us hostage and keep us trapped within ourselves. The more we can question them, the more free we become to make new, better, and/or more applicable decisions.
Ain’t no way I’m learning something new
When we know we need to make changes, it’s not uncommon for the choking vine of "the way it’s always been" to dictate our behaviors by leading us with fear and preventing us from following through on the work to get over the hurdle.
When we open a sales training, we always acknowledge that there are people in the room who are likely excited, some who are hesitant with low expectations, and some are likely hostages – people who would rather be anywhere else except sitting through the training session. While this gets a (knowing) chuckle, it’s always true.
And the thing that continues to surprise us is that the hostages who are not initially open to hearing the ideas at all, are often the ones at the end of the session who are the most enthusiastic about the possibilities.
We’ve held their feet to the fire for an extended time and given them an opportunity to watch, reflect, project, question, practice, and see the new possibilities. Without this forced focus time, it’s too easy to just dismiss an idea and move on.
Grab that branch and swing on over there
Think about where you want to go with your agency, and identify the limiting beliefs that are preventing you from the progress you need and want to make. Write it all out. That makes it all feel more real, and sometimes answers feel like they literally jump off the page when you write out the obvious.
Whether answers present themselves or not, find your Someone to talk to about your ideas and concerns. Question yourself. Allow yourself to be questioned. And when you take the action and find yourself with some wins, be sure you share those wins with your Someone so you can celebrate together!
Until you really spend time forcing yourself through the hurdle and find that new branch to grab, the panic button is way too easily accessible. Working through the discomfort and getting to the other side though – that can be absolutely exhilarating!