It’s a story of human triumph and perseverance.
Paul, one of my clients, was involved in a terrible car accident that almost left him paralyzed. Being an eternal optimist and a student of possibility, Paul persevered. He didn’t listen to the naysayers or to the doctors who told him that he may never be able to walk again. He tapped into his internal strength and refused to surrender.
After several lengthy surgeries, the insertion of a titanium rod into his leg, and countless months in rehab, through his relentless drive to overcome the odds against him, Paul regained the ability to walk.
Paul turned what could have been a tragedy into a new career for himself, becoming a well-known motivational speaker.
For those of you who are wondering how one becomes a motivational speaker, it’s essentially the same as developing any other business. You need to develop your product and brand, your presentation, sales strategy, business plan, and marketing campaign.
It was during our fourth month working together when Paul became ready to start marketing his services. He had developed his first seminar. We worked together on finalizing his sales and marketing strategy. Paul was ready to hit the streets and start bringing in new clients.
At least, I thought he was. Wait, that’s not accurate: He was ready, I knew he was ready, and Paul admitted he was ready from an organizational standpoint. However, there was a disconnect between his logistical preparation and his internal or personal feeling of eagerness or inclination. Paul just wasn’t ready to go out there and close a sale.
There were some red flags indicating something in Paul’s mind still prevented him from putting himself out in the marketplace.
“Keith, I’m almost ready. I’m just not ready yet. You see, I still have to get my business cards done.”
One week later: “Keith, I’m still not ready yet. I also need to complete my Web site. And then my presentation needs to be tweaked a little bit. Once that’s done, I’ll be ready. Oh, I mean after I finish the PowerPoint presentation. And I still have to get that professional photo taken . . .”
Just when I thought Paul exhausted all of the possible excuses that were preventing him from taking action, he came up with one last one. (In fact, it was the last one that I allowed him, before calling him out on all of these diversionary tactics he created for himself to justify his inaction.)
It was during a coaching call that Paul informed me of his achievements throughout the prior week. Paul was telling me about how much progress he had made in identifying the first round of target companies that would be a perfect fit for his services.
“That’s wonderful,” I exclaimed, happy to hear that he had identified these companies. “So, what day this week do you want to commit to calling these companies?” I asked.
“Well,” Paul began reluctantly, “Here’s the thing. I need to do a little more research of these companies before I start calling on them.”
Paul was clearly wearing his perfectionism on his sleeve. I inquired, “Okay, Paul, so tell me, exactly when will you be ready?”
“Well,” Paul began. I sensed that he was about to give me a laundry list. I was right, and I stopped him before he got on a roll.
“Paul, let’s look at this through a different set of lenses for a second, okay? What if you were ready, right now, today? After all, you shared with me that you have essentially everything you need to launch your company and start selling. And, most importantly, you have your heart, your passion, and your drive to share your story and inspire others.”
“Yes, but it’s still not completely finished.”
“So when you say completely finished is it possible that what you really mean is completely perfect?”
Silence. A few minutes later, Paul reluctantly agreed with me.
Paul suffered from a clear case of perfectionism. And while this is a very elusive diversion we often use to keep us from taking action, Paul felt that in order for him to be ready, he had to have everything perfect, including himself.
Believing that you are “almost ready” is the same as “almost” making a sale. Neither pays the bills.
So, when researching the companies that he wanted to call on, it only made sense that Paul became a knowledge junkie, believing that if he could get everything perfect and learn everything he needed to know about public speaking and about his prospects he would be ready to go out and sell. Unfortunately, of course, this level of perfection and expertise can never be achieved. Thankfully for Paul, we dealt with his hang-up before he sought out the “perfect close.”
After discussing the consequences of his actions and the lack thereof, Paul soon realized that who he is and his experiences — that is, things he already had — are the greatest assets to his audience.
Besides, if you strive for perfectionism, you are striving for an unattainable ideal. Consider for a moment the division you create between you and your prospects, who are of course mere mortals.
Here are five questions meant to expose any disadvantageous perfectionism in yourself:
- Is there a long list of people who have disappointed you throughout your life or your career? How well do people meet your expectations?
- After completing an assignment or project, be it a proposal, an article, or a newsletter, how much additional time do you take to make sure it’s “ready”?
- Are you satisfied in each area of your life?
- When completing a project, task, or goal, or when finalizing a substantial sale, is your sense of achievement fleeting or long-lasting? When is enough actually enough?
- Do you find yourself often building evidence to support your case, to make yourself right, or to prove your point? Are you rarely able to admit when you are wrong?
Realize that you don’t have to choose between fulfillment and satisfaction and the desire to achieve bigger goals. You can have both: fulfillment in your life and in your career while always enjoying the pursuit of lifelong learning, continued development, and meaningful, value-driven goals.
Paul welcomed himself back to the human race and soon found out that it was the vulnerability he experienced from the accident with which people connected and that made him human. At this time, Paul is successful and continues to inspire people around the world.
About Keith Rosen, MCC — The Executive Sales Coach
Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top corporations, executives, and sales professionals call first. As an engaging speaker, Master Coach, and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on coaching people to achieve positive change in their attitude, behavior, and results. For his work as a pioneer and leader in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country.
If you’re ready for better results quickly, contact Keith about personal or team coaching and training at 1-888-262-2450 or e-mail email@example.com. Visit Keith Rosen online at Profit Builders and be sure to sign up for his free newsletter The Winners Path.