Another myth in our profession is that stress, like rejection, is inevitable. In truth, the two often do travel together, weighing down the carrier. But is this condition necessary? Most definitely not!
During my live presentations I ask people in the audience if stress plays a role in their everyday work environments. Without exception, everyone nods in agreement and the room is salted with giggles and laughter. (Ask the same audience if they have some disease, and you get a very somber response. Yet stress can become very debilitating. So, why do so many people take stress so lightly?)
It’s obvious that a lot of sales professionals feel stress. But stress does not have to rule your life; you were not born with stress. It is something that you allow to happen. Stress is self-inflicted in many, if not most cases, and is a by-product of pretending that the world operates differently than it really does.
When our imperfect world, on whose game board we all must play, follows its natural course, we object to its imperfection and thereby create stress. In engineering, stress results from the application of a constant force to an immovable object. In life, the force is your expectation and the object is reality. You pretend… you guess wrong… you have stress. But, once you learn to go with the natural flow and rhythm of the world (by all means stopping long enough to change what needs to and can be changed), you will become more effective, efficient, and pleasant to be around.
Here are a few examples of ways we can pretend ourselves into an uncomfortable and unhealthy stress level:
Expectation 1: “The airlines will never mishandle my luggage.”
Reality: If you travel often enough, your turn will come when your bag doesn’t reach the connecting flight or falls off the airline’s truck.
Result: When your bags don’t turn up on the carousel, you get stressed and allow it to ruin your day, your vacation, etc.
Expectation 2: “It’s Tuesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m., there should not be much traffic.”
Reality: The world (and all of our metropolitan areas) is filling up with people. I personally have seen the population of our planet double since 1949. Someone smarter than I am said it will double again. There are fewer and fewer hours in the day when you can beat the crowd at the supermarket, the mall, or the highways.
Result: When you leave for a very important appointment and don’t allow enough “fudge time” for the little fender bender, street cleaning, or guys painting the white lines during rush hour, your stress level will build as you realize you’ll be late for your appointment.
Expectation 3: “Your teenage child understands why you dictate the rules you do and will never miss curfew.”
Reality: By and large, any human being under the age of 20 is pretty much lacking the adhesives in his cranium necessary to have rules stick in memory.
Result: When he meets his first love and decides that he would rather spend a few more minutes with her than scamper home to make daddy proud, parents get bummed out and wonder where we went wrong. The resulting stress level would pin a 5 on the Richter scale faster than you can get out the words, “Good grief, do you know what time it is?”
Expectation 4: “The world is “creep-free”, and everyone who calls us on the telephone is squared away and knows exactly why they have called.” (While we are in this dreamland, we also pretend that they will speak in a clear, audible fashion and respect our time.)
Reality: Along with a population explosion (and increased sales calls) comes an increasing number of less-than-squared-away individuals.
Result: When the caller turns out to be less than polite, we take this confrontation personally and allow our blood to boil for hours.
Doesn’t it make more sense to accept the world and all its nuances as they are… maybe even with a modicum of humor? Hold onto this reality: Bad things happen to good people.
Be ready to field some uncomfortable goings-on in your life. And when they happen (and they will happen) flash back to this chapter, take a deep cleansing breath, and repeat to yourself slowly the New Jersey stress-relief mantra:
FUH GEDA BOU DIT!
And then get on with your life.
Looking For Easter Eggs
If you want to be more successful, you must learn to lighten up. Selling isn’t as much work as you are probably making it out to be. I want you to reach back to your youth to get a new mindset.
Think about the game we all played during Easter as kids — hiding and finding painted hard-boiled eggs. Our parents, or the Easter Bunny, salted a few eggs around the house for us to find and jubilantly declare as our own. The youthful battle cry was:
“Get out of my way, I’m looking for eggs. I will look everywhere and I’ll find those little jewels if it is the last thing I do. I’m on a mission, so get out of my way.”
There was excitement, laughter, and anticipation. There was a competitive spirit. But, whether you found a bundle of eggs or not, this was fun!
The exuberance of the Easter Egg hunt always intrigued me. If finding a few lousy tasting, hard-boiled eggs was so exciting as kids, why don’t adults share the same fascination when searching for new business that could net some crisp, folding paper adorned with pictures of dead presidents?
Not unlike the eggs, potential customers are salted (hidden) throughout your territory and waiting to be found. They may be unrecognizable at first glance or hidden within some organizations. But they are out there. When approached with the same competitive spirit, playing “finding the customer” can be pure exhilaration — and lucrative!
Remember, you didn’t find an egg everywhere you looked. But sometimes with the help of a little clue (“you’re getting warmer”) you managed to zero in on the magic oval.
The same holds in the hunt for customers. As you prospect and engage in conversations and meetings you uncover clues — clues that can often lead to a happy ending.
There is one more point that we often forget. Whether it’s a member of the opposite sex, an Easter egg, a prospect, or virtually anything else that is not immediately within our grasp, the fun and enjoyment often comes with the hunt.
Don’t overlook this when the prize comes in the shape of a new customer.
Mike presents a business-building webinar on the third Thursday of every month sponsored by AmaWaterways. To receive monthly invitations send Mike an email with the words “business training” in the Subject Box. You will also receive a link to the recorded version.
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