Ready Set Change

Last month, I was able to participate in one of my favorite pastimes: I went on vacation. Specifically to my favorite place – the beach!

For many sales professionals, this is a big, big event. "The Vacation"! For me, it isn’t. Why? Because I actually love my regular non-working life, i.e. personal life.

I always find it interesting when people don’t, and who refuse to do anything about it, even insisting they can’t. In the past month alone I’ve listened to four different people complain about where they live or work and conclude by saying, “I’m stuck here.” "Can’t leave" nothing I can do about it now". "That’s like saying, I can never improve", "I can never get better". Top performers know that simply isn’t true and to me, that attitude is hogwash. Of course you can improve, get better, change and grow. Top performers know that they can always change their situation, and location. Your circumstances, successes or failure are always in your control to change. Every city has big green signs on poles over the highway telling you how to get out. A Greyhound station, a train station or an airport. You have feet, not roots.

No job is compulsory. No annoying customer, client, patient, or spouse must be kept. Everything is choice and everything can be changed.

The person who’s not stuck but says he’s stuck is developing rotten programming – conditioning themselves for failure. If you choose to stay for a list of good reasons, then say so. What is positive about your decision? Don’t say “I’m stuck here.” Say: “I choose to keep this business even though x, y and z, because a,b,c,d,e.” “I choose to stay here even though it’s 20 below 6 months out of the year because the cost of living is lower, I have a job that pays 50% commissions, my business is the dominant one, my store dominates the market, and I have good friends here.”

For most folks, a vacation is a really big deal because they are desperate to escape from their regular life. They want to turn it off. Shut it up. Shut others up. CONTROL their schedule, and tune out from everyone for a while – including their clients. They are stuck in a rut and know of no other escape, except to well…escape.

Top performers know better. They understand how to recharge their batteries and keep enjoying all aspects of their lives while continuing to work and live in the cities and at jobs of their choice.

If you find yourself lacking the energy and the enthusiasm that you once had for your job, if you find yourself craving time away instead of time in front of customer’s then it’s time for a change. Time to recharge and reinvigorate and get your "A" game back:

Here are some ‘best practice’ ideas to help:

  1. Quit complaining. I dare you. Just for the day, and then the week. Not a single gripe, complaint, moan, or grumble. Yes it’s hard for most people. What a change of attitude and fortune you will find yourself in as a result!
  2. Give up something destructive. Nido Quebin taught me that successful people have a "not to do list". That is a list of those things I am not to do anymore if I want to be a success. For years, this has meant for me, not watching or listening to the news first thing in the morning. It does me (or you) no purpose to find out who was murdered, robbed or ripped off last night. It’s just a plain depressing way to start the day. I do watch the local business, entertainment and political news because that is relevant to my own business success. Sure, I do also have my fair share of "TV addictions" – the most notable being the A&E series Rome and House. Typically you will find me watching those shows Sunday night as a reward for completing a successful week’s work, not watching those 2-3 hours per day during the week when I could be reading a book, or getting organized for the next day of selling. No one can afford to get demotivated during the work week. TV – at the national average of 2-3 hours per day is not only a time waster but a demotivator. Turn it off.
  3. Turn of the TV and turn on to a book. Wondering what to do if you are not going to watch the Golden Globes? Check out the reading list in the Engage resources page. Recently we have just added a classic. "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I have been meaning to read it since university and finally got around to it. Boy, did it ever motivate me to get off my Christmas pudding vacation butt and get back to work. Don’t just read the book, own the book. Read it, underline it, apply it, talk to others about it and practice it. Reading will inspire you with new ideas, new approaches, and new challenges. Casey in the office is just finishing Gene Simmons best selling business book "Sex, Money, Kiss" and Chris has poured through the dog training classic "Art of Raising a Puppy" in an attempt to master Conrad. We are all readers at Engage. We are all bettering ourselves, everyday. We are not happy with the status quo we know we can change.
  4. Switch up your schedule. You can be a morning person or an evening person but if you are stuck in a rut and complaining for a change maybe you need to mix things up. After a good sleep, most people find that morning is when the clearest ideas pop into your head but if you are stagnant try going for an evening walk this week by yourself and let your mind wanders. You will soon find solutions to some of your most nagging problems.
  5. Speaking of sleep. You will feel hopeless and resist change if you are operating in a sleep deficit. I keep a notebook and a pen in my bedside table for 2 reasons One, before I go to sleep at night, I write down the things on my mind. I empty my brain so I don’t wake up in the night thinking "I feel like have forgotten something and I don’t know what it is". Two, I journal everything I am thankful for that day. All my successes no matter how small. Sometimes those successes are trivial; "choose the salad instead of the fries", "called my mom". Sometimes they are significant; "Closed a record month!" Everyday, there are successes and the combination of these two pre-bedtime activities results in a peaceful sleep and a morning full of fresh ideas.
  6. Take up a hobby. Your community college, community centre, or other private institutions all have adult learning classes that you can take to improve your skill set and your attitude. Don’t have a hobby to embrace – try Toastmasters™. I still maintain its one of the best and most relevant professional educations for sales people. Take a class in anything that will provide you with new knowledge and inspire you to be a better person. Learn to groom a dog, take pottery, hockey, or study a new language. Sadly 80% of sales people spend less than $20 per year of their own money on their own development. Be top of class. Invest in yourself. Are you a sales professional? How about taking a professional buying/purchasing course. Learn to speed read. As a bonus, you might even meet new people, who may become potential new prospects. Try something completely different to challenge yourself, one year for me it was sing lessons. I am planning to enroll in improv next fall and get back into Karate. For some real fun, learn how to ride a motorcycle next summer. Now THAT is freedom!

Change and growth is not a process – it’s a mindset and sometimes it takes time to get back on track. Just as it took time to get off those rails. Consider it like losing weight. Those 5 pounds I put on during my 2 week vacation will take 2 weeks (at least) to take off with focus, determination and new habits. I can’t expect to lose them overnight although I can expect to make an instant change now that will lead to big dividends (in this case my pants fitting again) in time.

The opportunity is there for you to accomplish more this year than last. Your job is to take advantage of it. You can complain about your position, moan about your condition, or you can do something about it. Now. Your priority is to start with the right change and keep with it so that the rewards will start flowing.