Watch who you let near your mind
Friday, February 1, 2008/
It’s easy to let the heavy talk of negative markets weigh down your efforts. That’s not the attitude that will see you survive – and thrive – these tough times.
With the sub-prime market issue in the US and its effects on countries and the world’s sharemarkets featuring as a daily major news item at present, who can blame people for getting a bit nervous and worried about the future. You can see it with the panic selling of shares and so forth.
However if we let this and other issues get to us and allow ourselves to blow things out of all proportion we can, in turn, create our own demise. While it is critical for business owners and sales people to keep abreast of market changes and challenges we can let real and, more often than not, perceived threats get the better of us.
Choosing your state of mind, your attitude, is critical in business and in life, especially in more challenging times.
Now I am not suggesting we ignore real threats – they need to be taken and dealt with seriously – however many people, especially some sales people, can let negative comments, tougher market conditions, hearsay, etc really affect them unnecessarily.
Once they begin to believe the hype and only focus on the negative, they can find themselves in a self-doubt spiral that leads to further problems, such as:
Financial: Loss of revenue; no new sales revenue coming in; existing customer business drying up; losing customers to competitors.
Emotional: Excessive worrying and anxiety about poor sales revenue results; doubt about doing this type of work; lack of sleep and exhaustion; loss of confidence; self doubt about one’s ability to do anything.
This doesn’t help anyone.
Selling in the good times is easy, however being able to pick yourself up and keep moving forward in the tough times is the real test – a test of character.
Take the mortgage industry or instance. Up until recently you only had to bump into someone in the street and you could almost be assured of selling them a mortgage. Now the market is much tougher and lenders are tightening up on credit. Many mortgage brokers and managers are feeling the pinch.
The talk among many is negative. Who will make it? Who will survive? It will be interesting to see. Yet people create their own reality. All I know is that complaining and feeling sorry for yourself will not help the situation and is likely to lead to even less sales. Yet if they only looked in the market rather than at their navel they would find there is still business to be had; it is just a little tougher to find.
I learnt early on in my sales career to keep on going and put in the effort by doing the activities that count, especially in the hard times. Prospecting is key. Without it nothing else happens.
I can recall in my recruitment consulting days in the late 80s and early 90s when jobs were really hard to find, and many recruitment consultants were going out of business, that some of my colleagues and I looked at the market and said “just because jobs are harder to find doesn’t mean there aren’t any jobs. Companies still exist. Someone will be in business and someone will want to hire good people, so let’s get prospecting and find those companies who still want to hire staff and be in business.”
And you know what? By taking that approach and having a positive, determined attitude, my colleagues and I had some of our best results ever. We looked for opportunity and it was there. While everyone else was in despair and whinging about how hard it was, we were getting the work.
So where did I get the determination from to keep on going? Was I smarter than any one else? Certainly not! Upon reflection I think it boiled down to two things for me:
I looked at the market in a more rational manner and saw the evidence for what it was – there was still work out there to be had.
I was also fortunate enough to have to participate in a demanding sport – swimming. I trained 50km+ per week over a 10-year period as a teenager and competed at state and national level in my sport where you were tested mentally and physically every day. I learnt to be tougher, to get through the pain barrier and to watch out who I listened to. Many a time at race meetings some swimmer would try and get into our heads and scare us to put us off our game. Me, I just tried to shut them out and focus on my own race, my own goals and listen to what my coach said.
Little did I know that I was using some tried and true techniques that still serve me very well today. Years later I would read about and come to realise that I was practicing, among other things, the following technique:
Thought realignment is a special adaptation of the self-talk techniques introduced by ancient philosophers. In modern times this concept has been popularised by psychologists Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis, and sensationalised as a modern breakthrough, which it is not.
It asserts that most, if not all, of our distressful feelings are caused by the view we take of things and situations in life, not the things and situations themselves. How we speak to ourselves can really affect positively or negatively the outcomes of our actions.
We all speak to ourselves every day, and what we say has an amazing impact on what we feel and do. Thinking negatively about your market place and seeing only bad things will affect your prospecting and sales efforts. Letting other peoples negative thoughts pollute yours can bring you down as well.
In essence what you say to yourself influences what you feel about yourself or a situation, which alters what you do. If you want to change what you do, then modify what you feel by altering what you say to yourself. You will be amazed how it can transform your day and your results. If your self-talk is going to be self enhancing, it needs to be:
- Logically consistent.
- Goal supportive.
A good way to check if your self talk is helping you or harming you is to say to yourself the following: Now say “I want to..” and “I have to..” silently to yourself and feel the difference in energy flow in your body. Which one is easier? Which one feels effortless? You will know what I mean when you do it. I know which one I am choosing.
There are basically two types of self-talk:
1. Goal supporting self-talk
- “I want to …”
- “I’d like to …”
- “It would be better if …”
- “I’ll try to …”
- “…and it’s OK
2. Goal obstructing self-talk
- “I have to …”
- “You have to …”
- “I’d better …”
- “I can’t …”
- “…or else!”
Now there are some realities we need to face such as I know we have to breath, eat, sleep etc to survive. And I know we have to prospect to sell, however taking an I want to approach to these tasks makes life and getting sales a whole lot easier and much more enjoyable.
So watch who you let near your mind (especially yourself) and go get the opportunities that are out there waiting for you.
Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales 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. For more information please go to www.barrett.com.au
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