How having a Sales & Leadership Coach dramatically improved my business, my results, and my life.
The Missing Piece
Over the last 12 months I have made many significant and positive changes in my life. In fact, just this weekend I was creating a new vision board. I did this same activity at the same time last year. When I was finished, I laid the two versions (this years and last year’s) side by side and was again reminded of how much growth has taken place. Even writing about it makes me take a deep breath in and release a sigh of gratitude. The only word that comes to mind is “wow”.
I have shared a lot of this journey on social media. I have been flooding Facebook and Instagram with pictures of meditation practices, underlined paragraphs from books, and personal development challenges. Most recently I’ve even ventured into blogging to further explain some of the ideas that have given me clarity, peace, and perspective in hopes that it might help others find the same.
It was recently brought to my attention however, that I have inadvertently omitted a piece of the puzzle. I haven’t yet shared the primary catalysts helping me to act on (for example) starting said meditation practices, reading those books, and creating my personal development challenges.
This is the story of that missing piece.
It’s written more from personal experience than many things I post but that is by design. It IS my personal experience. So, take what you can, leave what doesn’t fit, but I encourage you to read with an open mind and consider if something like this might be the catalyst you’ve been missing too…
Through a series of unexpected and serendipitous events, I found myself introduced to the idea of hiring a Sales and Leadership coach.
If you knew me, you might think me an unlikely candidate for coaching. You see, I am a bit of an overachiever.
The program was described to me as “accountability coaching”. If you were to read my resume (filled with impressive stats and aggressive advancement) or visit my home (where you’d find shelves packed with self-help and business books as well as dozens of marathon and half-marathon medals) you might assume that things were going ‘pretty OK’ in the accountability department. In fact, when I told my father about wanting to get involved in a coaching program I believe his exact words were “I think you are literally the last person on the planet that needs this.”
(Don’t feel bad, I don’t think this is the first time he’s been wrong.)
Or – maybe that was a fair assessment. I mean really, maybe no one “needs” coaching. Just like no one “needs” to live an extraordinary life or accomplish goals beyond their wildest dreams… maybe. But I have never been satisfied with average.
However, here’s the common misconception and the thing I am asked about most often from those privy to my involvement in this… As a person “not satisfied with average” you’d have to guess that I’m ambitious from the jump.
And you’d be right.
So, why coaching?
Here’s the paradox with being an overachiever. When you are an overachiever, the world makes it really easy to be lazy.
This might sound counterintuitive, so allow me to illustrate.
Let’s say you and I both work for a company that measures our value and production in the number of pies we can bake in a day.
Let’s assume that an average producer bakes 100 pies per day. Let’s also imagine that you and I are both ambitious overachievers and, as such, we can bake 125 pies per day – no problem. We can basically do this in our sleep.
It stands to reason that with slightly more effort we could probably bake 150 pies per day, but if everyone is in jaw-dropped-awe at our 125 pies are we really going to shoot for the 150? It would take an awful lot of personal inspiration and motivation to do so. Might as well ‘phone it in’ and let everyone be impressed as is with our 125 pies.
This is a lazy approach, for sure, but no one ever seems to notice.
Achievements and accomplishments are relative. It’s all about pushing beyond your own personal best – if you’re inspired to do so. It’s all about challenging yourself and finding out what’s possible for you! Not comparing yourself to the average.
Spoiler Alert: Comparison to anything outside of yourself is a bit poisonousness anyway.
I started coaching because I knew that I could bake more metaphorical pies. I knew that the world had made it too easy for me to be lazy and that if I wanted to discover what was possible it was up to me to make a change.
I paid for the program myself. Aside from my rent, it was the single most expensive monthly charge on my credit card statement. You know when people talk about the price of something and then say, “it was the best money I ever spent”? I get that. This was the best money I have ever spent. No question.
One of my first assignments was to work on my personal vision. I had to answer thought-provoking questions about where I was going and why. I created a list of 40 goals I aimed to achieve before the age of 40 (arbitrary numbers – just because it’s catchy) and I was tasked with creating a vision board.
This may sound cheesy but stick with me… This process made me realize something. Somehow, I had spent the past few years going through the motions and feeling my way around in the dark. I hadn’t even realized I was living this way. My eyes adjusted. I had grown accustomed.
This make it feel like someone had finally flipped the lights on. “Vision”; literally.
My coach was asking me to dig deep and answer these important questions but he had no dog in the fight. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like any time I’m talking “vision” or “goals” to anyone who cares enough to hear them it seems they always have a dog in the fight. They’re always tied in. My achieving or not achieving X goal affects them in one way or another. There had been no unbiased participants in a conversation about my personal vision. Until now.
I could answer these questions and craft my vision however I chose. Me. Solo. And my coach would hold me accountable to this exercise and make sure it was accomplished on a deadline.
Suddenly it wasn’t selfish to spend this time reflecting and dreaming. It was necessary. It was an assignment. But the teacher didn’t win or lose based on the content of my work.
I was forced to go inward and untangle some things.
Did I mention I thought I signed up for sales coaching?
But, as I would learn, it’s all the same.
Of course, I learned strategies specifically designed to help me within the four walls of my office as well.
I have been in management and leadership for nearly ten years but the year I spent in coaching was the year I truly learned how to manage and lead.
It’s not that I was terrible at this before. I had actually been quite lucky throughout the decade. I employed a strategy of reading a few leadership books per year, had discovered Success Magazine audio CDs before podcasts were the norm, and had picked up some good instincts on how to navigate through the maze of hiring, training and developing – but I probably couldn’t tell you how or why I made the choices I made.
It was as if I was accidentally picked as a starting player on a soccer team and although I had never actually learned the rules of how to play soccer, I managed to score enough point per game that no one noticed I couldn’t read the playbook.
Coaching helped me to learn the rules, read the playbook, and improve the plays being run.
I was no longer winning through luck and might. I began winning through skill and strategy – which, you know, is quite a bit more sustainable.
As a sales professional, I began to really learn how to hone my craft in an honest and technical way. It’s not about selling more for self-centered reasons or financial gain. It’s about learning to connect faster and more sincerely with prospects, determining if they’ll genuinely benefit from your product or service, and helping them feel supported in the decision to move forward and become you client or partner, or not.
As a leader, my experience in coaching taught me how to hold others accountable through love.
That’s right. I said the “L” word. Roll your eyes if you must but this was a game changer for me.
Tough conversations stopped being tough which alleviated a ton of stress in my world and allowed me to show up and be present when working with my team. I learned (like, really learned) that holding people accountable and not accepting less than their personal best is the kindest thing I can do for them. It is my ultimate service.
I began to feel more at peace at work, interactions became deeper, our relationships strengthened, and our results improved.
I could tell you that I learned about time management but that’s not completely true.
I learned that “time management” is an excuse we use when what we really need to improve is our “self-management” and I learned self-management strategies that increased not only my results and production but also my sense of control and happiness both inside and outside of the office. I now get more done and manage far less chaos. It’s fantastic.
Finally, if I’ve used too many words that make you uncomfortable like vision, service, love, and peace – let me hit you with some facts and figures because that’s a language I am equally fluent in.
During my time in coaching I grew my revenue by 89%, my business hit all-time highs in production and my teams consistently landed in the top 10% of the country for New Business Acquisition.
I can boil this all down to one word; accountability.
We all need it if we ever hope to answer the question: “What’s possible?”
The overachievers, the veterans, the newcomers, and those simply (or not-so-simply) seeking more – we can ALL benefit from someone holding us responsible for achieving our own personal best.
So, how many pies can you/your business really bake in a day?
PEACE & LOVE
PS – For information about the coaching program I used or, you know, just to chat about accountability 😉 feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
When it comes to goal setting and (perhaps more importantly) goal attainment, Self-Talk (ST) runs the show!
Consider these ways to bring awareness to your Self-Talk and make sure it’s acting in your favor as your secret weapon instead of conspiring against you as your saboteur…
See if this resonates:
We want to set a new goal. Let’s call it an exercise routine because, well, almost everyone has been there. Let’s assume that we want to start an exercise routine because we’re hoping to see some kind of result – call it weight loss. So we decide that we will work out 4 days per week for 45 minutes per day. (*disclaimer – this is not a ‘how to set a goal to lose weight’ post… I definitely have thoughts on that too – but this is about our ST)
ST likes this goal because it’s not daily! She says: “Daily would be hard! Ugh we seriously hate exercise!”
This is what we want to bring awareness to! She’s at it already – telling us how hard this is going to be and we haven’t even begun!
So we wake up on Monday ready to start tackling our goal of 4x/week workouts. Maybe we achieve it on Monday! Maybe we even succeed week that first week… but at some point (fairly early on for most) we break a commitment to ourselves and ST starts saying things like:
“Well, I worked out Monday and Thursday… but now it’s the weekend… What day of the week does the week actually start on? Maybe I can work out Sunday and Monday and that’s kind of the same thing… 4 out of 8 days… that’s close to 4x/week… Ugh I knew this would be hard.”
She’s totally in the “push” position.
We have to push her to keep the commitment – to hit the goal – she’s definitely not our cheerleader. We have set her up for failure and as such she’s doing the same right back to us. No good.
So how do we make her our secret weapon?
Here is the often counter-intuitive answer:
We want to set a new goal – exercise – weight loss – you know the deal. Let’s start by thinking about something that would be a lay-up to accomplish but for whatever reason we’re not currently doing it. Maybe this is something we enjoy doing (for example, if you dig dancing maybe you commit to dancing to two songs every night before you brush your teeth) or maybe it’s something that’s so easy it would be hard not to stick to it (like 15 jumping jacks every morning). Something that makes ST say: “Well yeah, we can totally do that, but is it really going to help us lose weight?!”
Bingo. That’s where we want her! The first half of her statement is beautiful… don’t worry about the second half just yet.
Stick to the easy and/or enjoyable goal for a few weeks. If you’re Type-A like I am, make yourself a check list and make a mark each day to signify that you kept your commitment.
John C Maxwell famously said: “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
If you really want to conquer something, make it a habit! Make it a DAILY goal! It is exponentially easier to figure out how to fit in 15 minutes of “X” every day than it is to try to schedule 30 minutes of “X” every other day or 45 minutes of “X” every third day. The more “mental math” is involved, the more at risk you are of not following through.
(And to scientifically define “mental math”, it sounds like this: “What day is it? Wednesday? Did I do “X” Monday? Or was that Sunday? If I skip it today I could do twice as much…” No. No. No. That is awful. That is sabotage.)
So at “easy/enjoyable and daily” goals ST may be our ally, but how do we turn her into our secret weapon? Simple. It happens organically with momentum.
Because I am not a dance-before-teeth-brushing kind of girl, I’m going to run with the jumping jacks example…
Here’s our scenario. We commit to 15 jumping jacks every morning without exception. We tell all of our friends who might be with us in the mornings so that they expect this and encourage us.
(Oh. I don’t mean like friends around the office Keurig – although the more the merrier – I really mean the people who sometimes wake up next to us… our spouses, significant others, family members… or whatever else you’re into. Not judging. Just keep your commitments!)
We print out a Word template calendar and stick it on our fridge to track our victories… and then we rock and roll! This is so easy that we can’t NOT do it. Even if we have some crazy circumstance in the morning we can always knock out 15 JJs before bedtime and call it a win. With every successfully completed session of jumping our ST whispers a little “yes!” Each check mark on the calendar gets a “woohoo!” Sure, she may know this is easy but let her revel in it for a few weeks! Give her some EASY WINS!
Eventually she’ll bite the bullet and say: “You know… we can really do a little more than this. If we added 10 pushups to the 15 jumping jacks it wouldn’t take but a minute more…”
And now she’s in the PULL position!
Every goal is easier to attain when our ST is positive. Positive ST boosts our self-esteem and improves the way we feel – and the feeling of accomplishing is not much different than the accomplishing itself. It’s hard to have one without the other.
This can be applied to all facets of your life. From weight loss to business to literally anything you want to improve. Small incremental changes that seem too easy to matter lead to improved self-talk which will propel you to bigger changes AND improved self-concept.
THAT’S what happens when you take charge of your ST in relation to goal setting and put her to work for you!
40 Day Challenge: Why and What?
I did my first 40 day challenge in December of 2015 because I wanted to start a meditation practice.
The stories I told myself prior to beginning this (and throughout the first days) were:
- I don’t ‘get’ meditation (how does it even work!?)
- I am too ‘type-A’ to ‘quiet my thoughts’ or ‘clear my mind’
- I will just fall asleep if I try to meditate first thing in the morning
- I won’t be able to sit still in the morning because I’ll be running mental checklists of all the things I need to do (shower, blow dry my hair, straighten my hair, put on makeup, pick out an outfit <–I mean all really important stuff!)
- I just don’t have time to meditate
But somewhere inside of me a little voice kept telling me I had to do it. Had to figure it out.
I had tried meditation during some isolated incidents (yoga classes and whatnot) and I liked how it felt.
I am also a big Tim Ferriss podcast listener (if you’re unfamiliar with Tim he ‘deconstructs’ habits of the most successful people on the planet) and he found something like 85%+ of these major successes had regular meditation practices. So I thought: Fine. 40 days. I can do anything for 40 days. (You know, because I am ‘type-A’ and am great at mental checklists… see points 2 & 4 above. Wink.)
I started with a Kundalini Meditation called “Making the Impossible Possible” and in 40 days I felt like my life had literally transformed. (I have specifics on this particular meditation b/c while I think any meditation is better than none, this one really rocked my world so I highly recommend it.)
After completing the first 40 days I thought I had cracked the code and would be a daily meditator (word?) for life.
Perhaps this happens to some people — not me.
The open-ended nature of “daily practice” was too flexible for me (go figure). I didn’t feel like it was a ‘mission’ or ‘challenge’ anymore so I let myself off the hook… sometimes for days at a time.
I have since decided that two effective methods for me are:
- Having a finite timeline. If I commit to something for 40 days I know that each individual day is critical and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel (even from the starting line.) In other words I can wrap my head around 40 days – I, personally, cannot yet wrap my head around ‘everyday’ and/or ‘forever’.
- Having an accountability group. I started a simple Facebook page called “Tribe 40” where anyone who wants to take on a 40 day challenge can join and share their experience. At this point it usually ends up being a lot of posts by me and one or two other tribe members – but we’ll continue to build. My hope is that people get what they need from it. I (personally) use the public forum as a way to stay accountable. Maybe some people can use it to see others attempting their own challenges before they’re ready to dive into a challenge themselves. I think every step towards self-development ROCKS so the Tribe 40 page is there to encourage those steps.
I am not going to attempt to explain WHY 40 days — throughout history and religion this 40 day time frame shows up a lot. But I am NOT an expert in either of those fields.
Yogi’s prescribe practices for 40/90/120 or 1000 days. This link will explain a little: https://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/sadhana/40901201000-day-sadhanas
Bottom line? For me, it works. And that’s good enough.
When choosing my OWN 40 day challenges, I try to look at areas I am avoiding in my life or things I am making excuses about. (My list of excuses above about why I ‘could never’ be someone who meditates is a perfect example.)
If there’s something I want to try, a habit I want to develop, a little nagging voice telling me I should really do “X” or “Y”, I try to put it into a 40 day challenge for myself. So far the experience has been incredible and life changing.
I am ALWAYS happy to share exactly what my personal ‘challenge’ consists of (I am super into this so I’ll go so far as to make videos, send links, recommended books, resources, whatever I can!) but more often than not I find that the “right” challenge for you (for example) will be different from the “right” challenge for me.
My purpose in inviting people to join me is not to say “do the exact thing I am doing for 40 days” but more “grow with me by doing what YOU know YOU need to do for 40 days – and we can encourage each other along the way”. We are all in this together!
I believe that there are only two things that impact the way we experience life: OUR HABITS and OUR THOUGHTS. And the coolest part is that we control both!!!
A 40 day practice is an amazing way to exert some power over both your HABITS and THOUGHTS and I highly recommend trying it out!
PEACE & LOVE.