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
I love goals. I love setting them. I love writing them down. I love talking about them, checking them off, re-reading them, exceeding them… I love it all.
I was 24 years-old when I very randomly got my hands on the audio version of Brian Tracy’s Ultimate Goals Program. It was a game changer. I had never heard of Brian Tracy before and his message blew my mind! (Despite the direction I am going to turn in here, I highly highly recommend reading or listening to this work. I can’t stress that enough!)
As a result of Tracy’s program, I started writing down my goals on a semi-regular basis and then eventually adopted his full blown recommendation of listing your goals in the positive, personal, present-tense every single day without exception. I did this for years.
The results never disappointed. It wasn’t uncommon for me to find a ‘goals notebook’ from several years back, open to a random page, and realize that nearly everything I had set my intentions on had either come to pass or was on track with almost frightening accuracy.
Naturally, I wanted to share this positive experience so I gifted both the audio and written version of this book to a handful of people. Get me started on the subject of Brian Tracy and/or goal setting and I will happily and enthusiastically talk your ear off. This is my comfort zone. I am happy here. I am certain of the power of goal setting.
So imagine my surprised when I was chatting with a group of girlfriends this week and I completely blanked when the subject of long-term goals and ‘lasting legacy’ came up! My brain short circuited. It wouldn’t compute.
I know there are things that I want to do in the next 10 years (for example) but I don’t know where I want to be 10 years from now. Or, oddly enough, maybe I realized that part of me wants to be in the same place I am today. (That’s a trip!)
In trying to mentally reconcile why I could no longer wrap my arms around this concept I recognized that I may have abandoned the idea of a ‘destination’ altogether. I don’t know when it happened but I suppose along the way between that first audiobook and today I acquired and blended different ideas about the world that have reshaped my once solid “10 Year Plan”.
Those ideas that I have collected include (but I’m sure are not limited to):
I no longer personally feel that there is a finite end. There’s an end to ‘earth school’ as Gary Zukav (author of “Seat of the Soul” among other works) calls it, but I don’t feel like I’m up against a deadline.
In the same manner that you do not have a finite amount of time to learn things in College, I don’t feel I have a timer placed on my ability to learn while in this ‘institution’. Sure, you may not pass the exam if you don’t learn the lesson by the end of the term, but life goes on. If it’s a lesson you need, it’ll present itself again. You’ll learn once you need to apply it. You’ll get there if you must.
I am sincerely working on adopting a mantra of “It Won’t Make Me Happy.” In order to enforce (and reinforce) the truth that if it is external, it is fleeting at best.
At one time I really wanted a Kayak. I wrote it down every day. I lived near the water. I thought it was unfathomably oppressive to live on the water and not own a Kayak. I finally got it. I think it was yellow. There was a particularly fun (sarcasm) incident where it repeatedly fell off the roof of my car. I used it a few times but never got it out of the harbor. I left the Kayak in New York when I moved. The fulfillment literally could not have been more fleeting. Goal accomplished. (And it’s not the kayaks fault. The examples are endless)
My Universe is occurring inside of me – and yours inside of you. Nothing I can ‘leave’ (in terms of legacy) will mean anything to you unless I can affect you to become more aligned with you because nothing outside of you And if my affecting you is about me and what I’ve affected… it has no value anyway. (I know, it’s trippy.)
Your universe is all about you. You don’t need me to ‘leave’ you anything.
When I think of 10 years from now I imagine that I’ll want the exact same things I want now. I believe I’ll also want these things in 9 years, 11 years, and tomorrow at 3:07pm.
The opportunity to be creative
To choose love
To show up
To feel productive
To do “the work”
To solve puzzles
To breathe deeply
To feel free
None (not one) of the words on that list ever landed on a ‘goals page’for me.
That’s not to say that they couldn’t! Or shouldn’t! Maybe I’ll take this new perspective right back to the habits I created at 25… it’s probably not a bad call!
But what the recent “10 Year Plan” conversation revealed to me is that I’ve found unexpected and deep appreciation for ‘goals’ that cannot be scratched out in a notebook or stored in a closet.
I don’t want to “get there” with any of the above these feelings or ideas.
I don’t want to solve the puzzles and then rest.
I don’t want to contribute and then retire.
I want to be present in those ways every day. If you ask me today, that feels like the ultimate achievement.
There is an annoying cliché (I’m sure you’ve heard it) that “Happiness is not a destination, it’s a way of life” and (begrudgingly) I can’t help but agree.
(Side note: I’m aware that I find clichés annoying because they’re overused. I am acutely aware that they’re overused because they’re so friggin tried and true.)
It’s simply not a destination for me anymore. I can no longer draw the map. I am throwing out my 10 Year Plan and trading it in for a daily internal/emotional inventory. I’ll continue to accomplish things along the way because it’s fun – and why not? Let’s test the limitlessness of manifestation! And no disrespect to the brilliant Brian Tracy as I suspect he learned this lesson long before I did – but I have a new Ultimate Goals Program – and it feels a lot like wholehearted living.
PEACE & LOVE.