A few months ago, I was interviewed by Geoffrey James who writes the Sales Machine column for BNET. (Geoffrey is also the author of seven books and the columnist for Business 2.0, CIO, The New York Times as well as many other publications.)
Today, he wrote about something we discussed during our conversation, which is one of the most important characteristics that successful people possess, especially top sales champions. And that is, the importance of being process driven rather than being so result driven.
No, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t focus on the results, or set goals. After all, we need to have something to measure our success, especially in sales, and we need those goals to help determine an endpoint to strive for, something that we’re focused on attaining and the gauge that lets us know when we’ve ‘arrived’ at our destination.
What I am suggesting is to also adopt a mindset that may seem, on the surface, to be in conflict with the belief that you should stay focused on your goals. So, if you suffer from absolute or ‘either or’ thinking, this concept may be a real challenge to wrap your head around. Since we’re on the subject of healthy thinking, absolute thinking is something worth abandoning as well. It’s not one way or the other way; instead, it’s both. (“Either-or” vs. “And.”)
Those people today who challenge status quo and traditional ways of doing things are realizing the benefits of embracing not just one but two truths; two conflicting truths that can, in fact, live together in harmony. Yes, I know this sounds counterintuitive but that’s the paradox and the source of power for those who adopt this mindset.
That is: be mindful of the future, while engaged in and living in the present. To get a bit more cerebral, your process lives in the present where your results or your goals are all living in the future. And if you’re always focused on the result or outcome you seek, it’s going to affect what you need to be doing in the present moment. That includes the quality of your activities, the way you communicate, how well you listen, your level of creativity and ultimately how connected, present and engaged you are with people, especially your customers.
The point is, once your goal is set, continually thinking about or obsessing over your goal or the results you need to achieve doesn’t make that goal manifest itself any faster or easier. Instead, it actually winds up becoming a diversion, keeping your stuck in the future. The real cost is, you’re not being fully present and focused on today and more important, the actual process that’s going to take you to your desired destination.
Think if it this way. If I wanted to move a concrete wall, does the act of pushing on that wall all day make the wall move? Not even a little. It’s the same as spending all of your time thinking about the goal or the result. Doing so doesn’t move you any closer to your goal.