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An extract from my forthcoming booklet (working title), The Threefold Death: the changes you make to approach inner wakefulness.
Of Spirit Force…
I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume, behind this force, the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.
Max Planck, 1917
Image courtesy of Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestial Science
The future ‘dies’ when it meets the present – which ‘dies’ instantaneously into the past. There is plenty of evidence to prove what has happened in the past. Statisticians, economists and scientists gather evidence to project what will happen in the future. Despite all the evidence, the past no longer ‘is’ and future ‘is not’ yet present.
The only moment that truly ‘is’, is the present. Yet there is no evidence that the present tense exists – by this I mean, as close as scientists get to it, the present tense cannot be experienced through our five senses; it thus cannot be measured. What scientists measure instead is the before and after effects of ultra-micro interactions in time and space: for example, proton collisions, using the Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The Present Tense – which cannot be measured directly – is termed by scientists as a singularity point.
According to The Big Bang Theory, the universe started with such a singularity point. We can measure to within a zillionth of a second what happened after its inception, but we are not sure what banged – and the question of ‘why’, what-banged banged, transcends philosophical, religious, mystical, spiritual, and metaphysical domains.
The same holds true for black holes and dark matter. Scientists know of their existence because of the effect they have on things that can be observed and measured. Mathematical theory suggests that time and space collapse into nothing, a singularity point, at the centre of a black hole.
Time and space emanate from singularity points and ultimately return. And what fills that time and space (according to Planck and the ancients) is but a projection of the universal mind – of which you are an essential part. Through your mind you project thoughts, speak words and commit actions. And…
You are governed by The Laws of the Light and The Law of Consequences which, collectively, invoke dharma (Divine will) and karma (consequences).
The Laws of the Light:
When you commit to a journey, in line with your and others’ consciousness needs, at the right time and place, what you need will come your way.
The Law of Consequences:
What you project (do, say and think) out to the universe, returns to you amplified.
You attract, in/from the future, everything that is complete as well as incomplete in your approach to achieving your goals in life.
- Completion: When something within is complete; you do, say, think, and feel things borne of the heart – love, light, compassion, patience, enthusiasm, and curiosity. You will have The Laws of the Light with you.
- Incompletion: Unchecked, will invoke things you do, say and think not borne of the heart but instead borne of anger, shame, hurt, or fear.
I shall focus primarily on incompletions.
Should you learn and act appropriately from future’s gift (‘present’), you ‘complete your incompletion’. The incompletion unifies with its duality and thus is no longer perceivable by the mind. Zero projection by the mind means ‘it’ no longer exists in time and space. ‘It’, your completed incompletion, dies into the Present Tense, your true nature.
Should you ignore (or remain ignorant of) your incompletion, it travels unacknowledged into the past only to resurface again in (or back to) the future. Why? Because your mind is still projecting this incompletion through your thoughts, words and deeds.
The most common example, I know of, is the troublesome relationships that we invoke, time and time again. Relationships that keep repeating until we learn what we need to learn about ourselves and then ‘do’ something different in our approach. I have fallen foul of this as much as anyone I know.
Incompletions (recap: the inner things in me that attract the outer things I allow to make me feel angry, ashamed, hurt or fearful) keep being reborn in my life until I transcend to become my true nature – the love, light, truth and gnosis: the chokmah or wisdom of the I-am, the Je-suis, the Je-su(i)s within – as one of the standing stones in a circle at Stonehenge. This is my purpose in life.
Paul C Burr
Facebook: Beowulf (>15,000 followers)
(An extract from my booklet, Quick Guide VII – A Top-notch, Sales-Relationships, Account Management Template)
The matrix implies that you may have the opportunity to add value to your sales propositions. The nature of this value may be intellectual and/or emotional. Furthermore, if your customer values ‘you’ both intellectually and emotionally, you meet the basic criteria to form a partnership with your customer. If your customer neither values your intellect nor you/your-organisation as people – then your products and services are probably viewed as not much more than commodities.
Let’s look some more into each of the four quadrants in the Customer Value Orientation Matrix.
- Transactional: In this quadrant the individual client tends to place value for money upon the cost of the product and service quality they are buying and little or nothing more. In a commodity sale, given the minimum criteria of quality required, the client will make their decision typically on the lowest cost supplier. They attach neither emotional nor intellectual value on doing business with one vendor over another.
- Intellectual: Over and above product and service quality some clients will value a vendor’s intellectual property, i.e. their expertise, wisdom, data and/or whom they know.
Case Study: Intellectual Value – IT Directors’ Network
I once sold worldwide best-practice research to IT Directors as part of a private club subscription. Over and above the value of accessing millions of pounds (£UK) of research, at a small fraction of the cost, many members joined to meet their peers face-to-face. They met informally on a regular basis to discuss ‘hot topics’ of their own choice. Members would share insights into major IT management issues. If nothing more, members shared solace amongst themselves that they all struggled with the same management issues.
- Emotional: In the UK, themes such as ‘Buy British’ or ‘our Customer Support is based in the UK’ continue to carry favour with some clients.
I have sold millions of pounds (£UK) worth of contracts by asking the client if they would help me to make or overachieve my sales targets at year end. In each case, I had a very close and trusting relationship with the client. They were willing and happy to bring forward the business simply because I asked for it.
Case Study: Emotional Value – A Surprise and Wonderful Contract of Thanks
I led a sales and installation project of a huge network of Personal Computers (PCs) to facilitate a new customer service support system for a UK national corporate client. My organisation was awarded Phase 1 of a two phase project. I was told informally that Phase 2 would probably be awarded to a competitor whose product was some 40% cheaper.
The client valued my organisation’s technical know-how and I assembled a top support team to make sure that Phase 1 was commissioned on time and within budget. By the end of our contract, the customer was delighted.
I managed to persuade my management to keep the support team in place, even though our contract for Phase 1 had been fulfilled. I was determined to ensure the complete project was a success. Specifically, I did not attempt to negotiate anything in return for this ‘extra resource’ commitment.
Phase 2 got underway. About half way through and to my complete surprise, I was awarded a further £3M worth of unexpected business. The client-sponsor was “simply delighted” with my organisation’s commitment to the project overall regardless that a competitor was supposed to be supplying the hardware for Phase 2. This was the client-sponsor’s way of saying “thank you”.
- Partnership: When a client values doing business with you from both an intellectual and emotional basis, you have the potential to forge a partnership.
A business partnership is to all intensive purposes a marriage between your organisation and your client. You’ll sit together at a common ‘planning table’. Collectively you’ll form ‘one team’. You and your client’s organisation will ideally have a matching hierarchy of values.
The partnership will sustain when it is built on pillars of passion, resonance, security and creativity. The pillars are cemented in trust and as long as their bedrock is sound, pillars can crumble and be rebuilt.
I once engaged with a global apparel manufacturer to ‘measure’ the value its major retailer clients placed on the various products and services it offered. It sold prime marque products at premium prices. It was very successful but had a mismatch of values with one giant retailer in particular.
The retailer placed little or no value on the various add-on services the manufacturer provided, such as: local marketing campaigns, TV advertising, electronic tagging, in-store merchandising and so on. The retailer’s mentality was ‘stack-em-high, sell-em-cheap’; a complete contrast to prime-product retailing. The retailer was more interested in selling the manufacturer’s ‘bin-ends’ and ‘seconds’. And so a deal was eventually cut but the prospect of a partnership never came to fruition. The retailer’s view of all suppliers was totally Transactional .
For more information on forging and sustaining business relationship I refer you to two booklets from my series of Quick Guides to Business…
Good Selling & Shine on…!
Paul C Burr
Extract from How to Sell Coaching.
Coaching is not mentoring. Coaching is not consulting. Coaching is not training. Coaching is not therapy – but it’s probably more akin to therapy, and the term ‘therapy’ is still struggling to find a foothold in corporate cultures where problems are seen as weaknesses.
Coaching is about helping people to make breakthroughs to improve their business or personal performance. The ‘coachees’ might already be at the top of the ‘performance tree’, they may be struggling, or (like most people) somewhere in between.
My value proposition is hopefully clear and simple. “I will help people improve their performance by 30% or more in a matter of weeks, and in some cases, days.”
My definition of coaching, addresses the issues that inhibits clients from making breakthroughs. These issues are almost always emotional issues and not intellectual issues.
Case Study: Me and My Comfort Zones
In my early years in sales, by and large, I got on very well with clients’ operations managers. When I met or presented to a client’s more senior management, I would do my best to make sure I was structured and grounded my proposals in facts and data. Nonetheless, I often felt nervy and that came across in my body language and in the tonality of my voice. Senior clients would often think to themselves, “Paul does his ground work and thinks things through but he’s uncomfortable at this level. If I’m going to take his proposals up the line I’ll need to involve someone more senior from his company”.
*** End of case study ***
Coaching takes people outside their comfort zone in a safe and secure manner; so that a client is okay if things don’t work out the way they want, the first time around. It provides the client with tools to learn equally from successes and setbacks – especially in the domain of relationships. (For a guide to forging excellent business relationships I refer you to Quick Guide III: How to Bridge the Pillars of Successful Business Relationships.)
I have found that business, and life for that matter, is all about relationships, relationships, relationships.
When there is no-one with the power of veto to stop what you’re trying to achieve, including yourself, then you cannot fail. You succeed.
Mentoring or consulting, on the other hand implies that you are dealing with an expert; someone who has first-hand experience of new areas in your line of business; experience that you do not have. They might, for example, have studied world-class practice in a new business model in which you wish to engage. They will be capable of identifying the gaps between where you are now and where you wish to be. They will be able to customise a business model that meets your precise needs to fill those gaps. They will transfer skills over to you to fill those gaps, so that at some point in time you no longer feel dependent on their input.
The outcomes for both coaching and mentoring/consulting are the same, improved business performance and improved personal skills. Both get you to do things differently, whether those things are old or new. But the processes of achieving improved business performance are different and often complimentary. Coaching primarily addresses the emotional journey (which is still often overlooked) involved in change, whereas consulting/mentoring primarily addresses its intellectual journey.
The two categories, coaching and consulting/mentoring, require different mindsets: non-expert and expert. The two categories each require a different approach as well, directive and non-directive. I’ll explain what I mean by ‘non-expert’ and ‘non-directive’ through the following case study and later, when I define what coaching is and is not, to a prospective client.
Case Study – Top 5 Global IT Firm, Managers as Coaches
I coached a European team of managers who were already equipped with/‘trained-in’ an oft used coaching technique (GROW: Goal, Reality, Options and Way forward). BUT, they were not equipped to help their salespeople ‘grow’ their performance by more than a few percentage points. Going for, say, 30% growth requires a much more profound approach.
It involves taking people though a structured process outside their comfort zone to do some things very differently, often things that in the past, have anxiety associated with them. This level of coaching is not a competence that coaches will pick up in a two/three day training course. It requires that they experience passing though their own anxiety barriers – so that they understand more fully the emotional journey that they’ll subsequently be coaching others through – by taking their own ‘medicine’ first.
Here are testimonies from the sales managers I coached, about what it’s like to be coached and subsequently coach people to increase their sales by over 30%. Some refer to specific tools and techniques which they hadn’t received in their conventional ‘coaching-training’.
Coaching requires a completely different mindset. When I use it the process gets an A* for managing poor performers.
Coaching isn’t an individual session; it takes place over a period of time to get to a solution. Using ‘2nd position’ (how to stand in another person’s shoes) has helped enormously. It’s made me face some of my own demons.
I took the material and applied it rigorously to coaching X. The meeting wasn’t easy! I faced my demons and got on with it. It’s not there yet but the mountain has moved.
I’ve used the ‘Success and Setback Analyses’. (Two tools that, respectively, ‘paint’ both sides of the boundary of, or limits to, the success we create for ourselves.) I’ve overcome my shyness… I feel I’ve moved out of my comfort zone.
I am more rigorous in the ‘Analytical and Process Quadrants’ (a ‘thinking preferences’ analytical tool) and it’s paid off.
I took away the ‘Being at my peak’ tool from our session and used it – it’s brilliant.
The ‘Being at my peak’ tool helps me synchronise with people.
I am more effective in how I use my time and am more prepared for important meetings.
First two sessions were particularly useful. I would not have gotten through that month without the self management tool.
When I do follow the coaching process it works and it fails (I fail???) when I don’t.
This team of sales managers, in a Top 5 Global IT Company, went on to receive an award for being the top performing sales branch across Europe within six months of participating in this endeavour.
*** End of case study ***
Note that, in the case study above, the managers focused on taking themselves (and thus learn how to lead others to do the same) outside their comfort zones. In the subsequent coaching of their people, the managers specifically did not focus on directing their coachees what to do – even though previously, the managers all had successful careers in sales. Instead, the managers coached their direct reports to explore the space beyond their ‘boundaries of current success’.
In a nutshell…
- Coaching implies a non-expert and non-directive approach.
- Consulting/mentoring implies an expert and directive approach.
Herein follows a short extract from For The Love of Lilith & How to Put Love into Practice (and Non-attach yourself To It)
We are encouraged in western convention to ask for forgiveness and forgive others ‘who trespass against us’.
Nothing is random. You attract everything that happens to you. (If you don’t subscribe to this notion then act as if it were true for now and practise self-forgiveness as prescribed below. You’ll find it self-empowering.) If ‘something untoward’ happens to you, you attracted it for a reason. If you’re going to forgive anyone, start by forgiving yourself for attracting that ‘something untoward’ into your life in the first place. Even when I understood this, I still got the wrong end of the stick for a while.
I used to say something like, “What I did was wrong. I’m due (or it’s) karmic retribution. In time I hope I can forgive myself.”
Here’s the question. Which part of me is to (self-) forgive which other part of me? Which part of me has the right? Which part of me has the desire? Not the heart, it doesn’t judge. Like the sun, the heart shines on all. If the heart doesn’t judge, the notion of forgiving myself for doing ‘something bad’ is non-existent, in the heart that is.
Conventional self-forgiveness (‘good’ forgiving ‘bad’) is nothing more than a head trip. It’s all in the mind. It’s perhaps a start in the right direction. You may wish to forgive yourself or someone else with good intention. But if your forgiving is borne of a moralistic judgement it’s not from the heart and thus fundamentally flawed.
Real forgiveness is ‘being’ as if the thing that which was untoward never occurred in the first place. Forgiveness is more than something you do; it’s who you are – in your thoughts, intentions, actions when you operate from the heart, from spirit.
That’s what being in the present, moment-by-moment, actualises: self-forgiveness, free from the past, free from fear, free to be who you really are, spirit in human form, light (hu-man means ‘light being’), love.
And when you are love, being love, guess what? You free yourself to choose.
Most sales training I’ve come across focuses primarily on developing a salesperson’s skills or competencies, for example: opening, qualifying, questioning, advocating, presenting, negotiating and closing. The intention is that, over time with experience, the salesperson will get better and better at demonstrating these skills. It follows logically that they’ll become more confident in their sales approach and thus hopefully more motivated.
I haven’t seen much in the way of material that focuses on engendering an ongoing sense of curiosity, for example, how can I be the best, if not better, at what I sell?
The E=MC3 equation implies that an individual’s effectiveness is three parts mental and emotional (motivation, competence and curiosity) to one part intellectual (competence).
Let’s take a first pass at each of the qualities: motivation, confidence, competence and curiosity.
Most salespeople are motivated to win, especially when the selling is relatively easy. Likewise, most are motivated by earnings and win bonuses. Some are motivated by advancing their career.
What motivates top salespeople? The answers from my research fall into three categories:
1. “To be the best I can be” or “…recognised as the best salesperson there is” – not only the best in terms of results but the best at selling too (outcomes + journey).
2. “To deliver customer value above and beyond that expected.”
3. “To create a legacy so that I am renowned for the value I bring to customers and my organisation’s business.”
In all three categories, the top performers are motivated by being (and being seen as) excellent. ‘Moderates’ talk of winning and earnings but talk less of personal excellence.
I worked with a 26 year old CEO of a recruitment firm who had a good reputation for hiring confident as opposed to arrogant people. I was asked to model how he went about the task. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: “How do you differentiate between a confident person and an arrogant one?”
CEO: “Well, I’m not sure; I just get a ‘feeling’.”
Me: “Describe that ‘feeling’.”
CEO: “Well you just sort of know, don’t you? It’s something you sense….. a gut feeling.”
Me: “Okay, imagine you have an arrogant person to your left and a confident to your right. What’s the difference between them?”
CEO: “The confident person asks questions; the arrogant person doesn’t. The confident person probes for where they feel they’ll bring value to the organisation. They look to find out if they will enjoy the role. They seek opportunities for themselves to grow in the role. The arrogant person takes a position that they have the knowledge and wisdom suitable for the job and makes no effort to see how well they’ll fit in.”
Top salespeople exude confidence by the quality of questions they ask as well as the articulacy by which they convey reassurance. (For a framework with which to construct quality sales questions, refer to the INCREASETM model in Number 1 of this series of business guides, Quick Guide – How Top Salespeople Sell.)
If you stacked all the sales training and development materials in the world on top of one another, you’d probably build a mountain higher than Mount Everest. So I’ll attempt to put a different slant on competence by giving you a customer’s perspective. (For completeness, Appendix 1 lists the skills and knowledge demonstrated by top salespeople at, and away from, the customer interface.)
A corporate salesperson spends, on average, 15% of their time speaking directly to a customer. Ergo, 85% of the time, they apply their skills and knowledge to researching, developing and planning; how to be more effective during the ‘15%’ customer interface window when the occasion arises.
Top performers prepare themselves, intellectually and psychologically, to be at their peak when speaking to the customer. They develop appropriate skills and knowledge (the intellectual exchange) and they also prepare themselves to be in the right frame of mind and body (the mental and emotional exchange) with the customer.
Being perceived as ‘competent’ by the customer requires you to be:
1. Prepared: with insightful questions to ask and have answers to potential customer questions, including facts, data and logic so that your proposals are visionary, ‘grounded in reality’ and hopefully compelling
2. Clear about the outcomes: What do you want to achieve in the meeting both in terms of the task-in-hand and your relationship with the customer (e.g. engender trust). It’s also being very clear about the outcomes the customer might want to achieve, in terms of their task-in-hand and from their relationship with a supplier like you.
Illustration: 4 Outcomes to a Meeting
Most of us prepare ‘box 1’ before a meeting. Many ‘moderates’ omit boxes 2 and 3 above from their preparatory work. Most salespeople miss out box 4 altogether – often because of a lack of self-belief and sometimes unconsciously. They don’t visualise themselves in a picture working closely with the customer.
3. In the right frame of mind: If you were to prioritise the three factors: Prepared, Clear Outcomes and Frame of Mind – which order would you place them?
Exercise: Allocate three weighting percentages (that add up to 100%) against Prepared, Clear Outcomes and Frame of Mind respectively – in terms of how important they are to being successful during (not before) a meeting.
The most important thing you take into a meeting is your frame of mind.
This statement often raises a few queries. It doesn’t say that you shouldn’t prepare diligently for a meeting. What it says instead is – the moment the meeting starts, the single most important factor that will determine your success is your frame of mind. You may well feel you have to do a significant amount of preparation to get yourself ‘centred’, for example. BUT it’s not the process the meeting follows that determines success the most; it’s you, your frame of mind and the thoughts that engender that frame of mind.
Specifically, whatever thought you process in your conscious mind passes straight into your unconscious mind and merges with any ‘subconscious programmes’ running there. The aggregate information is then passed directly to your DNA which vibrates at different rates in accord with your temperament. That is:
The vibe you put out determines your success.
I coached a very successful salesperson who never felt at her best in front of a CEO customer. It took a wee while for us to discover a subconscious programme she’d developed from her authoritarian parents, created by a ‘single significant emotional event’ when she was three years old. Once she ‘released’ this programme, her faith-in-self in front of CEO’s increased significantly. Her sales soared.
Research by scientists (e.g. The Biology of Belief, by Dr Bruce Lipton and The Genie in your Genes, by Dr Matthew Dawson) demonstrates the subliminal communicative functioning power of DNA between human beings which can be harmonious (I prefer the term, ‘resonant’) or out of tune (dissonant) – and at its extreme, disruptive.
Allow me to define ‘being competent’ as not only having the capability to demonstrate requisite skills and knowledge at the customer interface, it’s also about being competent at preparing yourself to be at your peak, to achieve the gravitas (sometimes called ‘traction’) you seek.
Author’s note: gravitas is something we can all achieve; it’s a result not a gift privy to a chosen few. Only 15% or so of salespeople achieve the ‘customer gravitas’ they seek, hence this book!
Let me add, the competence that customers attribute to you will also include an element of the perceived competence of the solutions you bring to the table, i.e. an acknowledgement of the potential of your solution’s value proposition. Put another way, if the customer has little faith in what you’re selling, even though they value your personal contribution, to what degree will you be invited to participate in the decision making process?
We’ve covered two of the three ‘Cs’ in the E=MC3 equation. A salesperson not only has to be competent in following ‘top sales processes’ (and have potentially ‘competent’ solutions); they need to be confident in their ability and motivated to follow those sales processes too. And still there’s one further factor that determines how effective you are (by seeing what’s really going on), a heightened sense of…
Top salespeople are unstintingly curious. For example, they love to be coached. They are very willing to learn how to become more effective at selling.
Top performers focus on working smarter, not harder, than ‘moderates’
You might ask, “Curious about what?” Answer: “Everything!”
Top salespeople probe below the surface of what’s going on – especially when forging business relationships. Like a metaphorical iceberg, they acknowledge that you only see about 15% above the surface; the obvious facts and logic by which a customer makes a decision. But they don’t stop there, they’re proactive to find the real passions and fears which will motivate or deter key stakeholders in the decision making process.
Curiosity is the sonar signal you emit to track changes on your ‘sales radar screen’. You track political, economic, sociological, technological and organisational developments as well as your competitors’ manoeuvres. At the deepest level, you’re tuning into changes in customers’ feelings, e.g. inspiration, motivation, confidence, sense of security, anger and most of all – trust and fear.
There’s more. You also need to be proactively curious about what might happen. I return to this later.
To summarise: selling is three parts mental/emotional to one part intellectual.
E=MC3, it’s not rocket science!
Paul C Burr
Combined extracts from two business articles:
Quick Guide II – Learn How to Spot, Mimic and Become a Top Salesperson (coming soon)
“When you’re selling at board level it’s about taking the customer on a journey that’s both fantastic and believable. That is, no matter how complex that journey is…, it’s about breaking it down into manageable chunks. You create a pathway into the future that is as clearly marked out as possible. There will be uncharted territory. So it’s about discerning all the parts of the map that are known from those unknown.
It’s then about pinpointing all the ‘dots on the chart of the unknown’. That is, answering all the ‘what if this happens’ questions.
In effect, you join the dots of the unknown with customer as best you can.”
Top UK salesperson for a global top 10 IT company
Images courtesy of http://misswhit-tany.blogspot.co.uk/
What CEOs value:
The ‘science’ to determine value discovers what’s important to the CEO. And once you understand the customer’s priorities – how do you stack up (against your competitors) to deliver against them?
Here are sources of value (business drivers and problems to fix) that CEOs look for:
• Cash – Will your proposal improve our cash position?
• Cost Down – Will we reduce costs?
• Revenue/Market Share Up – Will we make competitive gains?
• Agility/Speed – Can we move, reshape, transcend quickly?
• Security – Will we be better protected?
• Governance – Am I compliant with Company Law?
• Product/Service/Cost Leadership – Will our own customers notice and value the changes in our organisation that your proposal offers?
• Innovation (e.g. Technology, New Business Models) – Do I want (to be seen) to be first in the marketplace, to do something differently? Does your proposal accelerate the process?
• Personal Credibility – Can I use your proposal to advance my own prospects and standing?
• People – Will your proposal raise the effectiveness and job satisfaction of people?
• Something else? – If you don’t know, ask “What else do you feel is important for me to know?” Even if you feel you know, ask anyway.
Put concisely, you need to understand profoundly what’s important in the heart and mind of your CEO client and convey the value you bring to the table in their language, not yours.
At this stage you may have provided sufficient verifiable value for the CEO to progress the sale. And there’s often a temptation to press on. In doing so, you may miss another, often unspoken, factor that weighs heavily in the CEO’s mind (as well as most of us) – fear.
The more you earn a customer’s trust, the more fears they share with you. They give you more power deliberately to help them.
My thanks go to Professor Colin-Coulson Thomas who shared with me the bounty of a minute fraction of his wisdom, and made a significant contribution to the following list.
What CEOs fear:
• Bad earnings news: the most likely and quickest sign of departure.
• Corporate programs don’t deliver: mergers and acquisitions “achieve 70% of their potential” at best.
• Failure to turnaround ailing sales quick enough.
• Change takes too long: ‘corporate firewalls’ prevent people from getting it done.
• Investors don’t understand: a CEO spends 40% of their time articulating strategy and some argue that’s not enough.
• Personal wealth at risk: e.g. missed deadlines can lead to private investors swallowing up the shareholding of a company
• Lack of innovation: playing it safe is no longer an option these days. Competitors and customers are moving too quickly.
• Talent gaps in performance: e.g. 20% of the sales-force bring in 80% of the revenue.
• Conflict in the boardroom: too much time spent looking inwards leaves too little time to focus on the customer.
• Personal credibility at risk: any of the above means less likelihood of stepping up the ladder of success and/or lack of a legacy of note. These in turn can lead to…
• Personal health at risk: where the stressed mind-body connection can have serious consequences. I know of one CEO who, after missing targets set by investors, developed terrible eye problems because he didn’t like what he saw. Another developed disabling back pain through a lack of self-esteem. Another who was deemed too rigid and inflexible developed problems with their joints.
Your task is to earn the right to zig-zag; to take the CEO on a journey whereby they see your solution working in their organisation and have allayed any fears they once had.
Ebooklet – Quick Guide: How Top-performing Salespeople Sell – for new or seasoned sales professionals, managers and CEOs. You can now download this first in a forthcoming series of business articles from Smashwords.
Photo puzzle showing Patrauti church, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suceava, Bucovina, Romania
I remember my (Great-) Aunty Rita from my young childhood days. She loved gargantuan jigsaw puzzles. Aunty Rita taught my Cousin Mike and I how to start by sifting out and connecting together all the pieces that had straight edges, to establish the boundary of some 1000+ piece puzzle. It would typically be a huge landscape with many decorative features and often a lot of blue sky.
Having completed the edge, we knew that every remaining piece fitted inside its boundary. We weren’t allowed to step outside. With the rules established, we’d next tackle any large feature, say a building, which stood out from the background. If it was a grey building, for example, we’d hunt for pieces that had what looked like the outline of the building running through them – a straight edge with grey one side and background the other. We’d piece them together and then search for and insert further grey pieces, some with bits of a door or window in them. Eventually, when the building was complete, we’d feel proud that we had a discernible part of the jigsaw to show for our work.
Picture courtesy of Roberson, Small Business Consulting.
Blue Sky, Nothing but Blue Sky (extract from my 3rd book, Defrag your Soul)
When faced with blue sky, our ‘fill-in-the-outline-first’ strategy, to complete the picture, no longer worked. We had to revert to visual trial and error. We didn’t have the nous to get a ‘feel’ for where each piece slotted correctly, the first time around. We’d pick up a piece that looked the right shape and test it one way then the other. Sometimes we’d see if the piece in our hand fitted in a number of vacant slots.
On occasion, we’d try and force a piece, which looked very nearly right, into place. When we realised the error of our ways we’d extract it. We needed to be careful because if we removed the offending piece quickly, out of frustration, we would drag up some neighbouring jigsaw pieces with it. We would then have to reconnect the pieces we’d torn from their sockets. We learned to stay cool when things didn’t fit into place the way we wanted them to.
Fitting ‘blue sky’ jigsaw pieces together, proved a good analogy for my trial and error approach to getting my own way as a child. If I gave out a howl when I didn’t get my own way, I soon got to know about it. (I immediately felt the discomfort of trying to insert an ill-fitting jigsaw piece to my ‘blue sky’.) If I tried to force the issue (i.e. the wrong piece in the wrong place), I’d ‘rip out’ any ‘credits for good behaviour’ that I carried at the time.
Hissy fits were not tolerated. I found out at a very young age how to discern between acceptable, polite behaviour and the opposite. I found out what being a ‘good boy’ meant partly through the responses I got when I was ‘naughty’ – and how being a ‘very naughty boy’ could result in a very unpleasant reprimand.
Like many kids I tested the boundaries. How far could I go with ‘naughtiness’? What could I get away with? Where would I find the line not to cross? Where and when did I need to temper my behaviour to get what I want and avoid punishment?
Howling and carping on about things I wanted to happen didn’t work but neither did keeping quiet. How could I let people know what I wanted if I didn’t speak out? So I instinctively learned how to temper my approach to influence others. I learned about temperance.
What about other ‘blue sky’ feelings such as love and security (never mind the shame, anger, sadness and fear that can ensue when we don’t get love and security)?
We hopefully provide our children with love and security. I can think of no happier sight than seeing an innocent child, smiling and living life to the full, knowing that they themself feel completely safe and secure.
This begs questions, When do we set them free to stand on their own feet? How will the child learn about insecurity (not security) and not-love? When do (or could) they start to learn about shame, anger, sadness, fear? How will they cope with trauma?
The answer is, “Do what feels right. They will call these experiences for themselves when the time is right regardless”.
It’s only recently that I’ve realised the dualistic metaphorical jigsaw nature of how you learn about life. For example, to appreciate love, you need to learn what not-love is. Otherwise how could you discern when you love (or are loved by) someone? And to fully understand the term ‘unconditional love’ you need to learn what ‘conditional love’ is.
Furthermore, the picture in the metaphorical jigsaw is not static. It’s a movie that changes with life’s ebb and flow of breath, days, years, relationships and so on. What creates success one day can create a setback another and vice versa.
Times change. People change. Contexts change. Nature demands change. You evolve, if nothing else, to survive. You learn from successes and setbacks. For example, if you consistently show the same anger to different people, you probably won’t get the same response or outcome. You can also find yourself continually fitting a piece of anger to a situation where only patience will fit. There’s ‘a right fitting piece’ to every situation you attract in life but it might require great subtlety, instinct or sensitivity to find it – for there are many pieces to choose from.
Life’s Jigsaw has an infinite number of pieces. It evolves into a lifelong movie that you get to act in and direct (sometimes partly and sometimes wholly) for yourself. And the most challenging parts to act and direct tend to be the ‘blue sky’ pieces.
So the art or perhaps science of life is how to reduce the trials and errors that can cause upset and piece together its ‘blue sky’ pieces more efficiently. How do you respond to those situations that happen to us all and only a few know how to handle effectively – the ‘blue sky’ pieces – the known unknowns?
Knowing you don’t know is learning in itself. It is the first step up from not knowing what you don’t know or unconscious incompetence, life’s starting place. Training professionals call this first step, conscious (of) incompetence. Through practice, experience and ideally having a role model to copy, you can become consciously competent, i.e. you know what to do but you have to think about it. For example, when I was learning to drive I was told to change gear every 10mph. So I used to know which gear I should be in by reading the speed gauge consciously.
Eventually, you get a feel for what needs to be done. You attend to what’s needed intuitively. This state is called unconscious competence. You do what’s needed without thinking about it.
Through experience and maturity you hopefully learn how to piece together ‘blue sky’ pieces to Life’s Jigsaw – such as love, decision making, patience or coping with trauma. What about when you attempt to go beyond the puzzle’s edge? Here you find the unknown unknowns – for example, buried emotions or childhood pacts you made with yourself that you didn’t know you carried around with you. Here you find yourself back where you started life, unconscious incompetence.
(To be continued…)
Paul C Burr