“The most rain we’ve had in about 80 years!” That’s what the news reported as a result of the constant rain that had been falling for days, fully expediting my lesson about the downside of having a fully finished basement.
In home after home in the New York area, people began the arduous task of pumping hundreds, sometimes thousands, of gallons of water out of their basements. Streets were like rivers, running with water from all the basements that were being drained. And then there was the damage, not only the structural and cosmetic damage to the houses, but to all the possessions: miles of carpeting, furniture, appliances, and everything else that once made a house a home.
At this point, I had been living in my new home for only about five months, following a 15-month construction project. When we first moved in and the movers arrived with our lifelong possessions that had been in storage for over a year, I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had accumulated. Stuff that I’ve lived without for 15 months. At one point I asked Eddie, my mover, to take it all back. He said, “You’ll probably wind up throwing most of this out.”
Well, dozens of unpacked boxes later, we found a place for everything that Eddie was kind enough to bring back to me, in the garage, the attic, and the basement.
Now ironically, not five months after moving in, this flood forced me to throw out at least 80 percent of the boxes stored in my basement. These were the same boxes that I paid to have in storage for 15 months, the same boxes I paid to have moved out of my old house, into storage, and then into my new house, the same boxes that were taking up precious real estate in my new home. The kicker is, for the most part I had no idea what was even in the majority of these boxes.
I needed to give up. That’s right, I needed to quit. Without the flood, these boxes would probably have remained undisturbed for years, simply taking up space and adding to household clutter. Yet because of this natural disaster, I was forced to clear out this clutter, the things that I did not use or that no longer served me anymore.
Master the Art of Giving Up
Doesn’t the same philosophy apply to our business, our career, and our life? The fact is, there are things you are doing right now that are creating the very results you want to avoid. And you may already know this. Yet we still hold on to things that are not working: the toxic people or relationships that we’re better off without, the strategies we keep thinking will eventually work, the limiting beliefs we have about ourselves (“Well, that’s just how I am”), the philosophies about selling, serving our customers, as well as developing and retaining our staff.
The most productive people on the planet have mastered the art of abandonment, that is, the ability to let go of the stuff that no longer works. This is not only limited to what you do but also to how you think: the limiting beliefs that keep you prisoner and stall your progress, preventing you from moving ahead.
A Victim of Your Own Thinking
When it comes to evaluating either a promising new hire or an existing employee, the seductive ether of potential can show up in many areas, not just when determining whether to turn around or terminate a salesperson. Potential can cloud your judgment and overshadow what would be considered more prudent and productive choices.
Here are 10 areas that have been known to seduce managers who become tainted and corrupted by the ether of potential, as well as their own thinking. Even though it is critical that your staff possess many of the following characteristics, they do not replace the person’s inability to reach their performance goals and maintain a certain level of acceptable production. Here are 10 seductive beliefs about yourself as well as your employees and what you perceive may be essential qualities that need to be reevaluated, regarding how much weight and importance you assign to each:
- Loyalty: Loyalty is essential, but is it paying the bills?
- Skills: They may be talented, but are they using their talents to produce the results you expect?
- Efforts and commitment: Sure they can put forth the effort and possess an unwavering commitment to you and the company, but do they have the innate ability to perform at an acceptable level?
- Passion: Their enthusiasm can be contagious but ineffective in posting higher sales numbers.
- Product knowledge: No one else may know more about your product and service. But since this person has trouble even closing a door, your competition thanks you for employing this person.
- Personality: A gregarious, outgoing, and warm personality certainly makes for a pleasant atmosphere, in spite of the low numbers this salesperson continues to post each month.
- Perceived additional value: They know the right people and can bring in more business from the right company, but are their connections, networks, and what they say they can do for you (which has yet to materialize) keeping you from firing them?
- Fear: Are you governed by fear? Ask yourself questions like, “What’s worse, not having a salesperson or having an underperforming salesperson who might be able to turn his sales numbers around?” Hmm, let me chew on this one for about seven months.
- Ego: Allowing yourself to be driven by your ego prevents you from admitting to making a mistake in hiring the wrong person.
- Mother Teresa Syndrome: It is not your job to try and save every salesperson and if you try and fail it doesn’t make you a failure
Here’s something I would encourage you to do. List 10 things that you can abandon either in your behavior, actions, or in your thinking. List the things that you are holding onto that are either no longer working or not generating the results you really want. Learn to let go. Who or what can you give up on today?
Keith Rosen is an executive sales coach, speaker, and best-selling author of many books, including Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions. He was named one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country by Inc. magazine and Fast Company. He can be contacted at 516-771-1444, firstname.lastname@example.org, or his Web site.