Self Control

What are we so scared of?

THE DILEMMA WE PUT OURSELVES IN WHEN WE PERCEIVE THREAT INSTEAD OF POSSIBILITY

It was an important meeting. A meeting that would be the beginning of beautiful and important things. We would hatch fun and creative plans together. We would make an impact on the community. We would grow our businesses. The limits were endless.

We would talk all things of mutual benefit. Quoting big numbers, and breaking them down into practical milestones, and then into bite sized chunks we could then divvy up and assign to each other. Then, we would have further meetings, do work with each other, plan events, continue to build our relationship, and build a new world. A world of laughter. A world of success. A world of joy.

But alas, this is the meeting that never happened. It is the possibly that was shut down within minutes when the fear got in the way.

The fear of people stealing from us. The fear of people using us. The fear of being sold to. The fear of getting the raw deal. The fear of being inferior. The fear of failure. The fear of success.

Maybe it is all of these things, or maybe what has been proposed to us just isn’t interesting. It is not compelling. It is not useful, or of value.

This situation is such a tough one to crack. When working with other businesses (B2B), it astounds me how much push back there is to enthusiasm. When a small business, or a solopreneur approaches another business to do some simple cross-promotion, or to join in a partnership of some description, there seems to be a fear, or a scepticism that is stronger than any other force. But why? What is this fear? Where does it comes from?

The answer to this is probably quite complex. There are perhaps Ted Talks and Harvard Business Review articles proclaiming to tell us the core of this phenomenon. But of interest to me is the sheer volume of people that can’t see a good deal in front of them when they see it. The definition of strong business to me is strong community.

If I can help my next-door neighbour be a stronger business then that is good for me. If I can help my industry be stronger then that is good for me. Isn’t it?

The need to rid our instincts of fear is vital. The only way forward is to be brave. Be bold. Listen to offers. Be willing to be sold to. Be open to doing something new or different. Be ready to put a little extra effort in to try something new out.

This does not mean that the rules are off and a free-for-all is now the norm. No. All business decisions need to be analysed and every opportunity still needs to be deconstructed for fit and purpose. But, instead of rubbishing an idea, or an activity straight up, we need to propose ways we can do something. How about, we ask “how can this work?”

It is amazing where this sort of thinking can take us. It can even take us to a point where we realise that the person sitting opposite us cannot help us at this time, and we cannot help them. By exploring possibility and investigating the up-side, we can even say no, and shake hands with genuine pleasure and friendliness. Yes – it is possible!

We hear of luck in business a lot. We all need a little bit of luck along the way, right? This is countered by the argument that hard work and persistence brings more opportunity and therefore more luck. I feel that this sort of argument is bogged down by semantics. The core of it is that there are multiple opportunities which come to us every day. Opportunities to grow our business. Opportunities to answer our needs and help us smash through our obstacles.

The question is, will you let that fear drive your actions, or will you ask, “how can this work?”

I hope you do. It will most likely open many doors that were not there before. Just like magic. It’s exciting. Join the party.

Squashing the Chatterbox

What is the most energy sapping aspect to your life? For those parents out there, being a parent is probably at the top of the list. For those that manage staff it may be the constant strains of their team. Maybe it is your customers, or suppliers, or a physical thing like long-distance driving, presenting, or just long working hours. These are all common answers, however there is one underlying factor that leaves us exhausted on a daily basis. The common drain I talk about below stops us from performing efficiently and has a big impact on our ability to rest and recuperate as well.

I am referring to the mind. We’ve all got one, and the constant “chatter box” inside of our minds that seemingly never switches off can be destructive to our energy levels. I am certainly no clinical psychologist, but I have always had a rampant chatter box that stops me from actively listening, stops me from mentally being in the moment, and definitely stops me from getting quality sleep. All of this can be quite destructive, especially over a long period of time. Some of us with an overactive mind will need to manage this throughout our entire lives. And, on top of guarding our energy levels, I am a big believer that in order to manager others well we must first be able to manage our selves well first.

It is not all doom and gloom – trust me, there is a big hit of positivity to come by the end of this article. If someone with a chronic case of “chatter box syndrome” (like myself) can find ways to overcome this and restore balance, then there is hope for many out there. A useful first step is to acknowledge that this is a factor, and that time and resources need to be put into correcting this. The second step is to get active – in every which way. That is to start listening to people that have good strategies in their lives to keep their mind in a quiet calm state. The third is to find what works for you. This may take some trial and error, but just going through this process of discovery can bring benefits – knowing you are actively sourcing the best solutions for yourself will already give you one less thing to worry about.

Common tools for shutting down the chatter box include:

  • regular exercise (a little goes a long way),
  • meditation (this is next step for me – I’ll let you know how I go),
  • recognising your triggers for anger, frustration, anxiety and halting your reaction before it takes over,
  • REGULAR deep slow breathing throughout the day,
  • nature – even a walk once a week, or eating lunch in the park can be beneficial,
  • hanging out with friends, or being around people can help you find connection and gives an opportunity for you to get all of those thoughts out of your mind,
  • support groups/networks, to be around people with similar challenges can make you feel less isolated as well as gaining insight into real world solutions that work for others
  • Professional Development Coaches – provides guidance, validation, and accountability so your chatter box can take a break on the big challenges in your business

I am sure there are many more (please share in the comments), but initiating any of these into your routines will start to make a positive impact and lift energy levels. There will be other benefits that tends to come with your ability to self-manage your thoughts and emotions, which in turn makes for a happier smoother daily experience for you and those around you. Clearer thinking, better decision making, increased problem-solving capability, and an overall increased capacity in terms of performance. Most importantly energy levels will go through the roof. Add in a clean diet and a high consumption of water and your energy levels will sky rocket. Easy affordable and a potential game changer for some. This is also a huge step to being a better leader in your work and personal life. I told you there was a big hit of positivity! Start today and let us know what works for you.

Not ready? No problem.

There are many tough aspects to Sales and the act of selling within your business. We can become demotivated due to a lack of progress, continual rejection, and a confusion of how much time and resource should go into sales activities. This can be magnified when you are managing a team of people where Sales is a considerable part of their function within the business. So, how are we expected to keep pushing forward with a positive mindset and a high-energy approach!?! Listening to experts talk about a positive mindset can be the type of talk that sends a business owner over the edge and into bouts of depression, denial, or manic stress.

In my experience building a framework for your sales process is the foundation that all goodness springs from in terms of revenue growth. Having a solid professional approach to your sales cycles will keep you on track and help you keep your actions efficient. But, what about effectiveness? Being effective is the number one target, and in terms of sales our scoreboard is revenue, or number of new clients, or deals completed. So how do we maintain our focus and keep pushing forward when the results are not materialising?

For me, my first experience of manic stress in relation to sales was when I was a Sales Rep for the first time. I felt like I had no idea how I was going to get a meeting, or where I was going to target, or even what I was actually selling at times! No one wanted to see me, take my calls, or listen to the value I could offer. It was a frustrating time, and since I had no experience to draw on, all I could do was take advice from colleagues around me and press on. It was tough. I became mentally and emotionally exhausted, and if it wasn’t for some good support and a few lucky breaks, I don’t think I would have lasted six months.

In the ten or so years since then, I built up my sales capability to the point where I have led sales teams, and now educate in the area. It is amazing to write this article and look back at what the act of sales used to mean to me compared to how I approach it now. There are several ways a sales process can be set up to build a sustainable flow of revenue. However, there is one key mentality which has helped me to push forward with optimism and gain results for my businesses and my clients.

Never register a No

There are many things I have been called in my life (insert joke here…) But, seriously, one thing keeps on popping up, and usually it comes from my prospect partners and prospect clients. Persistent. I love this, as they always mean it in a complimentary way and do not associate my persistence with any form of annoyance or irritability. It is a term of endearment as they are thankful for my persistence. Otherwise we would have never been able to connect and understand how we may be able to help each other. The importance of persistence is beautifully articulated in the book titled Grit – The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth. Here we understand how persistence plays a huge role in determining one’s ability to succeed in any activity we undertake.

Beyond persistence a key learning I developed was that when we are selling a, we tend to refer to our work in black-and-white terms. Did you get the sale? Yes/No. Did you get a meeting? Yes/No. Are they interested? Yes/No. Was it a good call? Yes/No.

Unfortunately, we end up with many more No’s than Yes’s, and this links to the feeling of failure and dejection. My heart sinks thinking about this feeling, and that people are experiencing this daily. The answer for me was to change my perspective. To turn the tables on the whole scenario and to take back control of the scenario.

I started to see that there was a big spectrum between “yes” and “no”. There was more to the situation, and to the relationship building process. No matter how abrasive or abrupt a prospect may be acting, I didn’t automatically write the contact off. I didn’t see it as a flat-out NO. I started to think in terms of “Not Ready”. Please allow me to explain.

The more experience I gained in business the more I begun to understand the importance of timing. It is often the case where the solution you are providing (i.e. the product you are selling) is being offered at the wrong time for a client rather than it being the wrong solution. The contemporary consumer (B2C or B2B) is time poor, usually mentally stressed in some way, and has little patience for information that is not relevant for them now. So, if this consumer is being approached at the wrong time, then it is safe to assume that the approach will be backhanded swiftly and brutally. At this point, I do not accept a “no thank you” response. I do my best to investigate what is happening in the person’s business or life, and ask as many questions as I can without prying or agitating. I also tend to slip in a comment along the lines of “not now? Great, when would be better”. If this is not appropriate, then maybe it is a matter of saying “Great, I’ll drop you a line in six months or so”. By doing this I am keeping the dialogue alive and continuous. There is no “no”, there is only “not ready”.

I have chased contacts for years to finally gain a meeting. This however, is not the truth. I am not chasing anyone, I am simply connecting, re-connecting, and keeping the dialogue alive. Sometimes prospects end up selling to me, or becoming friends, or end up being a valuable part of my network. I know this sounds a little insane, but trust me – when you are doing this with over one hundred prospects all at the same time you start to see results. Not only are you going to get lucky with a few people when your timing is perfect, but you are also building relationships that will give you sales opportunities well into the future.

Check yourself - no one else will

It is true what they say. Being a small business owner is a lonely existence. To offset this loneliness you can always take comfort that many other people in your network are going through the same thing. You can also gain support through the many business communities and on-line groups that exist.

The fact always remains that you end up spending most of your time by yourself. Even for business owners that are surrounded by their teams, or family and friends on a daily basis can feel isolated. The feeling of loneliness often comes from the feeling that no one understands, especially when all they do is give advice that is either irrelevant or unhelpful. Frustration becomes a daily habit and it all becomes a big struggle.

As a business owner myself I am quite familiar with this feeling. I also see it every day in my work as a consultant. The Business Owner’s common reaction manifests in some of these behaviours:

• Frustration – resulting in the staff being “ridden hard” and usually unfairly.
• Irritation – leading to unpleasantness and resentment back towards you the owner.
• Lowered trust – staff are given less slack as the owner over-compensates and then gets labelled as a “Control Freak”.
• Poor customer service – staff are talked over, or corrected in front of customers.

These are a few of the many reactions that are common within a business operation. The crazy thing about it is that these actions are usually a contradiction to the standards that the owner is trying to instill in their team culture.

So, why does this happen?

The short answer is that there is simply no one more senior to correct you. To guide you. To keep you and your behaviour in check.

I love this quote that I’ve seen on meme’s a few times:

“DISCIPLINE IS WHAT WE DO WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING”

It takes a lot of focus and self-control to be able to constantly check yourself. The consequence of not checking yourself results in the team receiving mixed messages from you. You are also going to be your own biggest enemy in regard to achieving your own goals.

I often see behaviour in small business owners that makes me ask the question “if you hired a manager that did that then would you sack them?” Of course, this is a big wake up call to change behaviour immediately.

Leading by example is effective – we can all agree on this. To do this CONSISTENTLY a good idea is to act as if you are employed as a manager rather than the owner of your own business. It is a great way to ensure that you check yourself and maintain a positive behaviour that is in line with the culture you want your team to buy into. This in turn will be a key driver for you and your team – both short term and long term.