As we have all experienced, there are many aspects of our jobs and lives we simply have little to no control over.
That was very evident in the Recession of 2008-2010. Tactics, strategies and styles employed when the economy was strong no longer were enough during tough times.
For example, companies that traditionally relied on incoming inquiries, depended heavily on their existing customer base, didn’t follow up their quotes and/or were generally passive in their customer engagement, quickly started to see their businesses erode during tough economic times.
Whereas those companies with a disciplined, structured and proactive approach to customer development, growth & engagement experience far fewer peaks and valleys.
So, What Can You Control?
There are 4 major aspects of our work & personal lives that are squarely in our control.
· S: Your Strategy
· A: Your Activity Level
· A: Your Attitude
· S: Your Skills
Let’s dig into each one.
Your strategy is your recipe book, your process & your priorities. The who, what, when, where, why &/or how. That applies to any aspect of business – sales, marketing, project management, account management – as well as our personal lives.
Let’s use 2 examples:
– Business: A Salesperson can easily decide which audience to focus on & why, how to approach them, what the steps are and when.
– Personal: Anyone of us has the choice to decide what kind of physical health we want to be in. We can decide how to approach our health, when and how we exercise and our food choices.
Your Activity Level refers to how much effort you put into something.
– Business: An Account Manager can decide to simply let his/her customers call them or, alternatively, select 5-10 under-performing accounts to connect with each month. A Salesperson can wait for leads to come to them or they can dedicate 2 hours x 3 days/week for structured business development activities.
– Personal: You can decide to go to the gym “when you have time” OR you can schedule in your calendar to go Tues & Thursday after work and 10 am on Saturday morning.
Your attitude refers to how motivated & committed you are to the job or task at hand.
There are many things that can impact your attitude including choosing a career that fit your personality, surrounding yourself with people who share your values, effective goal-setting, holding oneself accountable, gamification, celebrating small successes, enjoying rewards and being within a supportive culture.
But most of all, maintaining and strengthening your attitude requires a lowering of one’s ego, allowing oneself to be vulnerable and being humble. It also means being open-minded, with a growth mindset. Lastly, it means figuring out what the motivation trigger is inside each of us.
Simply, your skill refers to how good you are at doing something. It could be prospecting or quoting; it could be relationship management or time management. It could be riding a bike or baking a cake.
Some skills are natural and some need to be learned. But both require practice, practice and more practice. Why?
1. Establishing muscle memory (your brain is a muscle)
2. Continuous Improvement
3. Keeping ourselves humble
Example: I’m a tennis junkie. I know pretty much everything there is to know about hitting a backhand. Where to hold the racquet, what do to with my legs, my shoulders, my head, etc… yet it’s the weakest part of my game. So, I practice with a coach. 100 balls. 1000 balls. 10,000 balls. Over and over. He’s constantly giving me feedback & reminding me of things I already know but need to focus on. “Keep your head down; keep your feet planted; drive your body forward.”
So, in both business & personal lives, developing your skills is a lifelong journey and is totally within your control. You get to decide to be open-minded or not; take feedback or not; challenge yourself or not. It’s all in your control.