On show

Having to present your ‘best self’ every day can have consequences, some positive but some not so much.

Recently I have been watching the rerun of Life at 1 on ABC TV in readiness for the Life at 3 series, as I am fascinated by all things behavioural and developmental.


The series focuses on children and their development from age one and beyond, similar in concept to the Seven Up series. However this series cannot be complete without the children’s parents and siblings being involved.


I am interested in the series because I am a parent, however it is amazing what you can learn about other areas of your life from seemingly unrelated sources. This is such a case.


As part of the final episode of Life at 1, the researchers measure the levels of cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone”, in the bodies of the children and their parents to see how the stress of the parents lives affects their children.


One of the fathers being tested in the series had recently changed jobs from being a professional sales person in a luxury car showroom to working in the family market garden business growing vegetables. His “stress” levels, actual and emotional, were significantly lower after having changed jobs which also affected his child’s stress levels for the better.


While he had indicated that he had been successful in his sales job, having achieved good sales results and commissions, he found the pressure of always having to be ready for action, ever attentive and available for clients over long periods of time, exhausting and draining, so he finally left for something more relaxed. And he feels much happier for the change.


Now I am not advocating us all leaving our sales careers for veggies, however, I could relate to what he was saying. I have been thinking about the concept of always being “on show” for some time.


Each client sales meeting is like a performance. If we are going to be an effective sales person, we need to “perform”. We need to be present, alert, attentive and ready for action for each client meeting and doing this several times a day. We are on show.


Selling can be and often is a high stress job; people to contact, problems to fix, results to be achieved, more people to contact.


Now I know some people do not care about how they appear to others and what impressions they make, however many an aspiring or seasoned sales person does. They know you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.


However most non sales people think that we have it easy – “out there meeting people all day, chatting, doing coffee, la la la”. Yeah right! Little do they know that you are always having to present your “very best self” every day, several times a day.


Sometimes at the end of the day you just don’t want to speak to or meet another person. That’s OK if you don’t have to talk to anyone else when you get home or you live like a hermit, however for many of us we have a partner or a family to go home to – and I can’t speak for you, but I want to be there for them too. I wrote about the importance of active listening in another posting recently, and how I find it a challenge to go home and listen actively to my children after being with clients all day.


Having a healthy lifestyle, clear goals and making sure you get personal “free” time on a regular basis are just some of the things that are critical to maintaining healthy performance at home and at work, however, I wonder how many of us feel that we are having to be on show more often now than ever before.


In this networked world, all our actions have the possibility of effect on someone. Maybe I have take being on show too far and need take a break and be “daggy” from time to time.


I wonder how others feel about this. I would like to explore this further and would welcome your feedback on this issue. In the meantime I will keep on being fascinated by all things behavioural and developmental, including sales.


Happy selling.





Sue Barrett is founder and managing director of BARRETT, a boutique consultancy firm. Sue is an experienced consultant, public speaker, coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating high performing people and teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. Click here to find out more

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