The most disempowering lies we tell ourselves every day start with when and if only.
When I get fully up to speed on everything this customer is doing, then I'll be in a position to really kill it... If only I had a few more years seniority, I'll bet they'd take my calls... When I get caught up and get past this crazy quarter, I'll get my shit together... If only I studied harder and learned more, I'd have the confidence to really own that room.
While they sound a little different from one another, the commonality of these lies is how they make your actions - and your ultimate success - conditional on some kind of achievement or emotional change. It's a transactional way to look at growth: only when I've paid enough or done enough to achieve some level of psychic investment can I take the actions that will make my situation better.
But this is crazy. In fact, it's ass-backward.
You don't develop a perfect outlook on fitness that leads you to the gym. You drag your butt out of bed and get on the elliptical and feel better for doing it. The belief and the feelings of confidence and well-being don't precede the action... they are brought on by the action.
Sales reps don't do better work because they are more confident. They are more confident because they do better work.
They don't get in touch with their passion for a company or a project sitting on a mountaintop. Passion is the result of effort. Not its cause.
If you're a manager, stop trying to manage what's in the heads of your team members. It doesn't matter and, in any case, you can't know it or change it. Base your conversations not on what your employees are thinking or feeling... focus instead on what they're doing. My approach to training is centered on specific, discrete actions that sellers must take - building a client POV; identifying and writing out a problem you plan to solve for the client. It's the doing of this work that makes the seller more valuable to his or her clients, more confident, and more versatile.
One of my long-ago bosses taught me a great lesson. After listening to our team telling one another all of our when and if only lies, he'd stand up and say, Well, it doesn't sound like anything a good sales call won't fix. And he was right.
As Spencer Tracy once said, It's impossible to feel sad and useful at the same time. If you're a seller, default to action. You will work yourself into the confidence, the passion and the state of mind you've so long wished for.
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