“How happy a person is depends upon the depth of his gratitude.”
I tried as a young father to inculcate an attitude of gratitude in my children when they were young. I tucked them in at night, said a prayer with them, and then I’d ask, “What are you thankful for today?” I wanted them to appreciate who and what they had. The first sign of maturity in a young person is gratitude.
Now all of us know people who are thankful—they are appreciated and heartening to be around. Conversely, we can all think of a few self-centered, ungrateful people, who we, not surprisingly, tend to avoid.
Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach, says: “We can achieve endless progress and success in our lives as long as we are increasingly grateful each step along the way. Lack of gratitude is one of the biggest obstacles to personal progress.”
In his pamphlet, “The Gratitude Principle”, Sullivan identifies three types of people who inevitably struggle: those who feel sorry for themselves, those who consider themselves “self-made”, and those who take their success for granted (“born on 3rd base”). As Life throws these people a curve, there is plenty of blame to go around, but certainly, they have no gratitude.
So, how do we create meaning and value from the inside out, rather than expecting good things to impact us—and make us happy–from the outside in?
Answer: take stock daily of what you’re thankful for.
Before you go to sleep tonight, take two minutes to answer these gratitude-inducing questions:
What am I grateful/thankful for?
Why am I thankful?
How can I express my gratitude?
First action to take
Here, I’ll show you what I come up with—in a few seconds:
What am I grateful for? My health.
Why am I thankful? I know I’m a wimp when I’m sick, nearly non-functional. So I’m glad to be currently healthy!
How can I express my gratitude? Thank God, for starters, that He has blessed me with this.
Action: Quick prayer reminder: 1 Thess. 5:18—“In everything give thanks….”
Taking a few minutes at night or first thing in the morning to ponder what you’re grateful for yields positive benefits. Doing this quick exercise for 21 days not only wards off cynicism, jadedness, resentment, and complacency, but also leads to a brighter, proactive outlook on life.
Your future is what you appreciate today.
What do you do to be thankful? How do you reframe your circumstances to be grateful? I welcome your input!
John Dryden once said, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” Now that the school year is underway, it’s a good time to rethink your habits and patterns, and make some adjustments.
We’ve all heard the Biblical saying, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” In other words, you harvest what you plant. Each and every day, we are consciously (and unconsciously) planting seeds of a sort. And those seeds germinate. Most people do not live intentionally, with a purpose. Consequently they’re operating in a less-than-conscious manner.
Unless we are consciously forming good habits, we are unconsciously forming bad ones.
What habits are you forming?
Have you noticed how easy it is to be lazy? It’s easy to sit on the couch and watch reruns of The Office. It’s easy to play World of Warcraftuntil you look up and notice four hours have elapsed and you missed class and lunch and your study time (and a shower). Forming bad habits takes little conscious effort or intent.
Here’s another pithy adage. There are three types of people in the world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who ask, “What happened?” Lots of people end up in the final category. Many Americans pass their waking hours with simple amusement. Mostly with their best friend, the TV. (Or, with youTube or Facebook.) The root meaning of “muse” means “to think”, so “a-musement” is non-thinking. A lack of thinking. Eng’s principle states: The easier it is to do, the harder it is to change.
So bad habits are easy.
Forming good habits takes a bit of discipline. It takes effort. It takes energy, It takes focus. NOTE: I’m not suggesting we all become puritanical workaholics, using every minute with relentless purpose. There is a time and a season for everything. Leisure time is OK. Facebooking is OK. Occasional downtime is healthy.
So what habits are you forming today?
What’s a small new habit you can try on—and repeat? It may be eating smaller portions. Or using less salt. It may be smiling more, or deciding to express your feelings more. It could be starting an exercise habit—perhaps you just walk around the block. If you’re in sales, it might be making cold calls again. Keep it simple, believable, and doable. Pick a couple pain points and take small steps.
Forming a new habit involves taking small daily actions — done on schedule. You can’t skip spring planting if you want a fall harvest.
Recreating your life doesn’t take a lot of work – just repeat a single positive act daily for three weeks and it will become a habit. Then add another one. The force of good habits will automatically generate your power and good fortune.
So avoid letting life happen to you. Don’t get older and ask, “What happened?” We all know the pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret. Decide to try on a new small habit today and follow through with it for a few weeks. Share your success stories! I welcome your comments. Remember:
Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters. –Nathaniel Emmons
As you know, Michael Phelps is the most medaled Olympian in history. He hit his goals and has been awarded 22 medals over the course of four Olympics! 18 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze—and he’s 27 years old.
No swimmer had ever won a gold medal in the same event in three consecutive Olympics. Phelps did it twice in London, going back-to-back-to-back in the 200 IM and 100 fly. He set eight world records in Olympic competition and 39 overall in his career.
But…if you’ve followed this year’s swimming events, you saw Phelps struggle early on—placing fourth in the 400 I.M., being out touched in the 200 butterfly, and dropping one swim from his scheduled events. Michael clearly was frustrated. His early interviews showed a tense athlete who was not excited by being on camera after “losing”. Phelps obviously wanted to get the interviews overwith. His eye contact was poor; he kept turning away slightly from the reporter.
Later, I watched a poolside interview of Michael Phelps after he won his 19th career medal at the London Olympics. Different attitude, different athlete. He was happy, smiling, enjoying the moment as his swimming career wound down. When asked what changed, he told the reporter that at the beginning of the swimming week, he didn’t feel good in the water, and he wasn’t smiling much.
I thought that was an interesting comment: “I wasn’t smiling.”
Obviously he equated smiling with enjoyment and enjoyment led to winning. Once he adjusted his attitude, then his natural competitiveness flourished again. He relaxed and could trust his training.
After all his events concluded, Phelps repeated the value of attitude and having fun. With Bob Costas, he shared: “For me, I’m having fun…being able to be in my fourth Olympics…I’m enjoying it. I had a smile on my face! Sure, it didn’t start off very good the first day, but we were able to get over it and move past it.” Watch the interview here.
This isn’t a sports blog, but I think you can see the parallels to sales. When we’re uptight, when our focus is off, when our attitude is in the tank—when we’re not smiling, we struggle. In order for Phelps to snap out of his performance funk and swim at gold-medal levels, he didn’t have to change his stroke or adjust his race plans. He just needed to change his mental focus—he needed to be enjoy what he was doing.
So let’s do a bit of self-evaluation. How’s your attitude? Are you enjoying what you do? If you’re production has dropped off, you may not be doing anything wrong technically. You may just need to relax and smile more.
What has been your experience? How do you recover from tension and frustration? Feel free to comment.
I had an interesting message forwarded to me from Paul Matthews, Founder of People Alchemy, Ltd. It stresses the value of your reputation. In sales, your reputation is vital.
The other day I overheard some people speaking about me. I was both surprised and grateful for what they had to say.
A few days later I spoke with some colleagues about someone we had just met, and we were deciding whether to do business with him. The outcome was that we will not be dealing with him in the future. This was much more because of our impression of him as a person rather than the offer on the table.
Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon stated “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
What impression do you leave by how you act, what you say, and what can be found online about you?
You really DO need to know who you are when you are not there.
You see, people don’t interact with you. They interact with their perception of you. They interact with what they see as your personal brand, even when you are right in front of them.
Think about what that means to you, and to them, and to your relationships.
When you’re selling, your reputation is all-important, as word travels. To that point, I recall most all of my selling days with Southwestern Advantage were positive interactions. One frustrating day, however, a mom met me at the door with a variety of objections–I didn’t even have a chance to open my mouth…she blasted me. And, foolishly, I made a smart remark back at her.
Her eyes flashed, and I knew as I turned around and headed to my car that I’d made a mistake I would pay for. And sure enough, she got on the phone to her neighbors. I didn’t even get to approach them. They didn’t bother to come to the door. All her friends in the immediate vicinity shunned me. Her impression of me derailed potential customers. My reputation preceded me.
How are you managing your reputation with customers? Are you conducting yourself in a professional manner? Are you treating people the way you’d like to be treated? If you’ve noticed your prospects are treating you poorly, you may want to re-evaluate your attitude. Are you doing the little things that make a big difference–like smiling, making good eye contact, and getting in a positive mental state before a call?
If you’re not, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
I welcome your comments, input, suggestions, critique, and approbations.
One of the guys on my swim team is brutally uninteresting. Now, you’re probably imagining some poor, quiet, introverted chap who can’t make eye contact and hardly ever speaks. Wrong.
This guy is talkative, chatty, garrulous, and chronically outgoing. In fact, he has verbal diarrhea—he hardly takes a breath in between sentences. He is an English teacher’s worst nightmare, as he is the embodiment of a massive run-on sentence.
You can ask him a harmless question, like: “How was your workout?” Then you can relax, knowing you’ll never have to respond—or even look at him for that matter—he just launches and talks, incessantly. You could probably leave entirely and he wouldn’t notice.
So, why am I sharing this? My swimmer friend knows a lot; he’s a smart guy. But he’s a monologuer, a one-way communicator. He never asks questions. In fact, I’ve never heard him ask anyone anything!
So, back to my original question: how do become a more interesting person or salesperson?You ask questions and listen!
People love to share their opinions. Look at the “review” feature for websites online. Restaurants want to know people’s opinions; hotels want to know about your recent stay; movies have scores of reviewers. People blog around the clock, sharing their opinions and viewpoints.
When you ask questions and listen, the person on the sharing side feels heard, validated, and affirmed! I would posit that they like you more having been asked for their opinion.
So, the connection to selling is simple. If you want to become the most interesting person you know, help someone else feel that they’re the most interesting person around. As author Nicholas Boothman puts it, your goal is to GET THEM TALKING and KEEP THEM TALKING. Instead of surviving awkward silences in the conversation, think of questions you can ask which will allow the prospect to talk and share his/her opinion.
We’ve all been accosted by a rambling, sales monologue. How does it feel? Right! It feels like you’ve been assaulted by a sales robot. No fun. Salespeople who score higher with me are conversational; they ask a lot of questions. They dig for information. As the prospect, I do most of the talking, because I’ve been asked insightful questions. Having shared, I’m much more open to hearing what the salesperson has to say.
So, if you want to learn to be more interesting, be more interested. Ask questions and listen for useful information. Or as Dale Carnegie puts it: “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.” If you get them talking and keep them talking, you’ll be considered a great conversationalist–and you’ll become good salesperson as a bonus.
In a previous blog, I talked about how to get unstuck by asking the question, “What would it be like if I could do _______ really well?” You could fill in the blank with “sell” or “dance” or “connect with people” or “draw”. We discussed the fact that humans automatically imagine an answer. We can’t help it.
So how can this be useful when you’re stuck? What kinds of questions might you decide to ask if you knew the listener unconsciously and automatically imagined the answer? When I’m coaching students in the summer, this is particularly helpful.
“What would it be like if you could close half the people you called on?”
“How would you call on prospects if you knew you could not fail?”
“I wonder what it would be like to hit President’s Club in sales this week?”
Or, if you’re selling to a mom–
“What would it be like for your children to do well in school, instead of hating it?”
“What would happen if your kid looked forward to math class?”
“What would it be like to have your child develop more self-confidence?”
By asking a question, you are pointing a person’s attention toward imagining an answer. Our brains are wired to notice questions and imagine answers.
If you’ve been in a business discussion (argument) about a tough topic, you can loosen up just about any attitude if you agree: “Yeah, I know it’s impossible. Of course you can’t. But I was just wondering, what would it be like if you could…?”
So, do you know why you first agree with them? It’s because people’s brains are contrary, and if you immediately contradict what someone says you lock them in to their attitude.
So, FIRST — agree with them that they can’t, or that of course it’s impossible, or whatever the limitation is. Then,
SECOND — ask them, “But what would it be like if you could?”
Try it on a few people you know, when the time is right. When you see how easily this works, you might be tempted to make it a habit. For more ideas on getting unstuck, I’d recommend www.unstuck.com. A great, weird site to help you break out of life’s self-imposed ruts….
I wonder what it would be like to subscribe to this blog?
In the world of a student manager at Southwestern Advantage, we encounter both sales and leadership training: the first year focuses on sales skills, and as a Student Manager, the emphasis changes to leadership. Dan Sullivan, consultant, author and founder of The Strategic Coach, discusses the how selling and leadership interrelate for the entrepreneur. First, the aspiring entrepreneur launches the business and spends tons of energy selling the concept/service to others, then, once established, the focus turns to leadership and running the business. Are the two different? Is selling as important a skill as leadership?
Share your thoughts and comments. All of us at Southwestern Advantage are entrepreneurs at heart!
English is a rich language, with a long history and a massive lexicon. According to Wikipedia (that highly-esteemed compendium of knowledge and wisdom), some sources cite over one million words in the English language, with new words being added at the rate of over 8,000 words per year. Naturally, with such a vast pool to draw from, some words are bound to be considered improper or, shall we say, “dirty.” Colloquially, these words are sometimes referred to as “four-letter words,” but I think the dirtiest word in our expressive vocabulary has not four letters, but six.
That word is “should.”
But why is “should” such a dirty word? The problem is that “should” allows our imagination to parade around as reality. Part of it has to do with context—when we use the word. “Should” is a word that exists in both the past and the future, but it does not exist in the present. This is a problem because the only reality is the present. The past exists only partially in our memories, and the future does not exist at all. But “should” drags the past into the present and limits the possibilities of the future.
I know this is pretty abstract stuff, so let me make it more concrete with an illustration. “I should have done that differently,” is a sentence we have all uttered in one form or another in our lives. But where is the focus on this sentence? It’s on the past. Saying something like this forces our attention onto events that have already occurred and cannot be altered. But this word, “should,” confuses us into thinking that we have the power to change what has happened. We don’t! And this leads to a failure to accept our situation.
Anyone who has sold books or built a team with the Southwestern Advantageprogram understands the importance of accepting your situation. It’s simply another way of focusing on the controllables (discussed in a previous three-part post). In fact, accepting your situation is so important that I would argue the only reason we ever experience stress is due to a failure to accept our situation. Stressed about that test tomorrow? Accept that you didn’t start studying soon enough and start focusing on what you can do to get the best grade possible. Stressed that your top Southwestern Advantage first year went cold? Accept that they aren’t going to work with you and get back to front-door activity. Stressed that you are living paycheck to paycheck? Accept that you have mismanaged your money and get yourself on a budget.
“Should” prevents us from taking the necessary actions to remedy the unpleasant situations we find ourselves in. When we let our thoughts and utterances be dominated by “should,” we lose our focus on the present moment and begin to dwell on the imaginary world we have created in our own heads.
So if you have recently found yourself stalled in your progress in some facet of your life, examine where “should” has crept in and put a roadblock on your forward motion. Accept that no matter how much you feel the situation “should” be a certain way, it is not that way. And then begin to find a specific action you can take to create the future you want, not the future that you “should” have.
“Sometimes sales training and “advanced” sales strategies do more harm than good — especially if the techniques you adopt take you away from what works best for you. Here’s an example.
My wife wanted a new car. She likes sports cars so we went to a dealer to check out a BMW 135i. The salespeople were loitering in the lot as car salespeople without customers are wont to do, so they saw us drive up, cruise through a couple rows of cars, and park in front of the 135is.
A young guy headed over; evidently it was his turn. After a quick hello he clearly started to follow a mental sales technique checklist.
Evidently “qualify your lead” was first on his list. That didn’t go well for him so he moved on to “determine customer needs” and started asking about what we were looking for in a car. Without being rude (she has a knack for courteous deflection) my wife asked a few questions he struggled to answer, probably because he kept focusing on re-engaging his training and reclaiming the sales high ground.
Then he surprised us. He stopped talking, took a deep breath, and said, “I’m sorry. I really suck at this. Wait here and I’ll go get someone who can actually help you.”
My wife melted, as wives who are businesslike but also caring are wont to do. “No, we don’t need anyone else. You’re doing fine,” she said. “Hey, tell me; have you driven one of these?”
“Oh yeah,” he said, visibly brightening. “They’re really fast… and I probably shouldn’t say it but they handle better than an M3.” Then he glanced around to make sure no one was nearby and said, “Even if you don’t plan to buy it you should at least drive one. They’re a blast.”
We did, and she bought one (and a year later still loves it.)
Where did he initially go wrong? He let training turn him into the salesman he’s not. He tried to become a qualifying, relationship building, features and specifications spewing, commitment gaining closer.
In the process he gave up his biggest strength. He stopped being himself, a young enthusiastic guy who loves cars.
Consider the sales strategies you currently employ. Do they take you away from your strengths?
Say you’re naturally introverted; don’t try to become this guy. Where sales is concerned, listening can be even more effective than speaking.
If you’re perceptive and have good instincts, don’t get locked in to the qualification process. In our example, we parked a relatively expensive vehicle in front of a row of 135is, so any salesperson could safely assume we had the means and the interest. (In fact, the car you drive onto a lot probably says more about your means than any answers you provide to qualifying questions.) After “Hello,” the best thing the salesman could have said was, “Tell me which one you want to drive and I’ll grab the keys.”
If you’re naturally casual and chatty, don’t try to be professorial or authoritative. Speak the way you speak to friends (within reason, of course). Be genuine and prospects will respond.
Sound simple? It is… but many people lose sight of the fact the sales techniques they use should play to their strengths. Don’t try to be something you’re not; instead, focus on being a better, more effective version of you.”
So, here’s the message to all Southwestern Advantage dealers: be you! When salespeople try to copy someone else’s style or personality–or they attempt to become “salesy”, they lose. Prospects can pick up on phoniness and are turned off by overt sales tactics. Be yourself; play to your own strengths and you’ll succeed.
So what if you’ve experienced some recent setback? Perhaps some of you Southwestern Advantage student managers have returned from spring break, only to find fewer members on your team than you had beforehand. Maybe you’ve looked at your recent round of grades and have determined that you need to overhaul your study habits. Perhaps you’ve made a series of bad decisions with your money or your personal habits (see spring break), and you’re down on yourself.
Here’s a great question to ask yourself: “How can I turn this around?”
Simple question. Usually when we’re mired in negative circumstances, our minds jump around—we’re bombarded by random, unhelpful thoughts:
“What an idiot I am!”
“Why did I do that?”
“I’m really bad with money.” Or…
“I should’ve prepped my team more for spring break issues.”
“How can I turn this around?” points your brain in an entirely different area—the area of creative answers. If this question doesn’t immediately provide solutions, think of related questions, like:
“What can I do differently to make it the way I want it?”
“How can I change my situation going forward?”
“What small action can I take right now to change my direction and start new habits?”
If you don’t get the answers you want at first, do you give up? Or do you keep asking in as many ways as you have to, to get the answers you need? So think about employing, “How can I turn this around?” when you need it.
Oh, and by the way, a large percentage of teams have been built after spring break—some of our best Southwestern Advantage students were selecting late in the game. Myself included. I went to an info session during final week, signed up and came to Sales School later that week! There are numerous other examples.
What questions do you use to rebound from tough stuff? Comment and share your strategies. Just remember to guard your thoughts, use better questions, and you will be more successful in your Southwestern Advantage career.