September 27, 2015


Following from my last post about overcoming stress, here is another example of high performance thinking: the All Blacks often make the right decisions under pressure whereas other rugby teams often don’t! What is the difference? It is exposure, at a very early age, to challenging situations and drilling the correct response until it becomes a habit, it becomes an attribute, a part of the individual’s character. Many people think the All Blacks are experts at this, most people don't realise they have spent years developing the ability to do this under pressure.

Unfortunately, changing certain behaviour requires concentrated work, quick fixes don’t work. As I have often said in many of my trainings, you don’t become an All Black or a Roger Federer overnight. It has taken them years of exposure to challenging situations to develop the skills of responding differently than the competition. You are in competition with everyone. The faster you understand this on a primal level, the faster you will develop the ability to handle choking under pressure. Malcom Gladwell wrote in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master. How much time do you spend practicing the ability to make decisions under pressure?

If you want to change, you have to be brutally honest with yourself otherwise you are living in denial. Let me describe it another way. Your brain is a computer running a particular program, say XP, and now you want to upgrade it to the next version of Windows. You download it onto your “computer” but you find from time to time the program doesn’t work very well, glitches happen. These are like bad habits that are always running in the background. They never go away, they need to be managed.

If you have ever been to an Alcohol Anonymous meeting, the attendees will introduce themselves and tell everyone how long they have been an alcoholic even though they don't drink anymore. Why do they say this? Because they know that the thought, the habit is lurking in the background just waiting to rear itself. Because they are aware, they are prepared and they have strategies in place to cope if this happens. They have practiced their responses; they learn how to make the right decision when it counts.

Are you willing to pay the price to practice, not just once but on a regular basis? If you don’t, then you are like most people in the world. This is why most people don’t change – because it requires too much effort!

Without concentrating on fixing this in a focused process, it is very difficult to overcome this problem. There are no quick fixes, I have never seen quick fixes and I don't offer quick fixes. I can help show you the process to change if you are prepared to do the work. You will learn how to cope with this panic situation and how to minimise impact of this on your business and personal life to reduce the chance of stress and burnout. It is false hope to expect that this will ever go away. What is possible is for a person to understand when it comes up and how to deal with it effectively.

I am running a public workshop in November on how to manage Stress and Burnout. If you would like details, please email us on

September 25, 2015


I often get asked how to get over the choking emotion when the negotiation or deal is on the tipping point. The answer most people expect is something that will not require much work or something that works instantaneously. I'm afraid I will not be able to offer you a quick solution for something as complex as this.

From my experience, no one ever gets over this; they just learn how to manage this emotion better than most. A lot of it also comes down to the environment that you were bought up in; some people are just better at handling this genetically. This is similar to talent that people are born with, such as speed or athleticism or mathematical or music ability. Some things you either have or you don’t. I know this may not be the answer most of you are expecting; however, good news is that it is possible to develop abilities to overcome this.

Some of you may not know but when Roger Federer was younger he often had melt downs on the court, breaking racquets, storming off the court when he was losing. Look at him now! He worked to overcome this behavioural pattern and it took him about 5 years to develop this ability. He was relatively a late developer, winning his first grand slam at age 22. Most of the successful grand slam winners usually win between the ages of 18-20 years. Nadal won the French at 19 years and Pete Sampras won the US open at age 19!

Much of our response to situations is triggered by our habitual way of responding to these situations. These triggers are often ingrained within our unconscious thinking by the environment which we were exposed to or brought up in at a younger age. Of course difficult experiences, eg when you may have lost a deal, have also contributed to this response. Unfortunately, when you face a similar situation you respond in a similar way, because you don’t have the training to change that response. You panic, you don’t think and you respond without thinking.

In the following article I will provide some examples of high performance thinking.

I have had requests from many people wanting to find out if I run programs that help in stressful environments, to help better handle stress and burnout. Normally I run these programs as a specialised session for companies. Because of the demand, I will run my first public course in November, limited to 20 people only. If you are keen to know more about it or to attend, please send me an email at
September 17, 2015

Panic/Anxiety Attack: Why do we suddenly “choke” or “freeze”?

Many people have asked me questions about why they suddenly freeze in front of a client or forget to ask an important question when they know it could have an impact on the whole deal. Let me share a secret with you … choking happens to everyone! It just happens less to the ones with better mind control and more frequently to others.

OK, so let’s look at a couple of examples of famous “chokes” in the professional sports area, recent and not so recent.

Just a few days ago Serena Williams had the opportunity to win her semi-final match against a player ranked 43 in the world and normally one she would not have any trouble beating. Now this tournament had a higher than normal significance for one main reason, it would give her the opportunity to win the Grand Slam of women’s tennis; last accomplished by Steffi Graf over 18 years ago! So how does a player who is clearly the best women’s player the world has probably ever seen, suddenly tighten up and make simple errors? Even her opponent said she could tell that Serena was nervous and anxious.

From another sport, Greg Norman had one of the most famous chokes in Golfing history to lose the Masters in 1997.

Another famous choke happened with John McEnroe during the French Open final in 1984 against Ivan Lendl. McEnroe was a few points away from winning the French when suddenly everything that he hit went haywire and he lost.

Let’s look at another example of choking so you can understand the underlying emotion you feel and what happens to your cognitive ability to remain calm, think your way out and do the things you have spent years training. I often tell this story in my classes so the sales people can experience the emotion.

Imagine you have been given a speeding ticket that takes you close to your demerit level. Now you become really careful not to speed, to check every sign, even the signs that you drive through every day. Your driving becomes too analytical and careful. In fact, now you actually become a dangerous driver! You grip the steering wheel tight; you look at the rear vision mirror too often, etc. Your decision making is not natural but too analytical. You have now engaged the prefrontal cortex when there is no need to engage this part of the brain in this way. Notice your emotions when you are driving this way, when you know that any mistake could cost you your licence. The level of anxiety is suddenly at another level, people who have driven for over 10-15 years suddenly become anxious.

Now, you are in a meeting and you realise if you close the deal it’s worth a lot of money to you, not to mention the recognition that you will get at the office. You suddenly start thinking about this and not what you have to do in the meeting, nor are you paying attention to the client. You have now become fixated on the result and not the process. Many of you have experienced this, the meeting is going well and suddenly you sense a change in the mood or feel something is amiss. You start thinking, “What should I do? How do I close the client?” and panic sets in. At this stage, it’s very difficult to change your thinking and before you know it, the meeting is over and you are sitting in your car in stunned silence, asking yourself “what happened?”. How can seasoned sales people make these types of mistakes?

When you want something really badly, anxiety will always tend to kick in. I have seen this with many people in various fields from professional sports to bankers, lawyers and sales people to name a few.

Is it possible to stop this anxiety kicking in when your emotions are running riot through your whole body - whether you are holding a golf club or thinking about the question you need the client to answer? From my observation, people at the top of their game have mastered this so it doesn’t happen too often, BUT it does happen. To the people who experience this frequently, I would say a great deal of training is required to master your emotional brain and get rational and calm.

In the next post I will provide some techniques that may help you to get a control over this anxiety or “choking” feeling.
September 11, 2015


After my previous post “When do you move on?” a number of people have responded and asked me "what do you do when you realise you have to move on?"

Once you are clear that the chances of anything happening with that person are next to zero, you should:

  • Step back

  • Get rational about the whole situation and

  • Think!

I can say, from personal experience, I often review the conversations and the meetings I have had and find that I can learn from them.

Having a clear understanding of your sales process specific to the industry is of prime importance. The central theme is, did you tell the client what the next step was going to be? If yes and then if the client did not commit to the next step, YOU have a problem! The one word Commit is worth its weight in gold and requires precision in preceding events.

If you know your sales process, what I call opportunity realisation occurs and it follows a logical progression culminating in getting the deal, beginning the relationship and delivering your service or product.

If the client does not commit to the next step, warning bells should sound in your head. It is then time to ask yourself and the client - Why Not?  Was it something that was missing in your selling process or was the issue at the client’s end?

In either case, at this stage you can decide to keep in touch with the client for future sales; if you find out why they are not interested in buying now, maybe that knowledge will help make a sale at a later stage.

If the problem was with your process, make a note and add to your mental sales checklist.  We all make mistakes; the trick is to learn from them.

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September 03, 2015


The funny thing is, the people who need to change the most aren’t open to it; often they don’t even know it and seem to live in a bubble. I am sure you have encountered many people who are like this. I certainly have! …and they can be a challenge to work with. Can you get this person to open themselves up to thinking in a new way or even to listen to you?

What you can do is, first learn to spot this person, then make a decision to either persist or move on. So, what are the signs that allow you as the sales person or manager, to pick or read these signals?

The key skill is tuning your listening skills to hearing what they aren’t saying.

Some of the signs are:

  • They are not willing to listen to you at all

  • They are unreasonable

  • Most of their sentences start with an “I”

  • They can’t seem to back up what they are talking about with facts and usually have no in-depth knowledge of what is actually going on with the team or themselves or their business

  • They often make irrational decisions that are primarily very emotional

You can get fairly quick at picking this up based upon daily experiences.

In my experience, if the selling cycle is longer than usual or they don’t take up an offer that virtually every other person has, you know what you’re dealing with. At this stage I have often decided to not spend any more time with these people as they are hard work and often have unrealistic expectations. You can often regret working with them. At some stage you have to pick up stumps and go to another game.

The choice is always yours and yours alone.