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April 07, 2016

“DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?”

Not an easy answer to come up with for many people.

How do you find out what you really want to do? What is the one thing you want to do that you enjoy the most, have fun doing and would perhaps do it even if you didn’t get paid for it?

Many people go through life without really figuring this out and they kind of accept that this is the way for most people. Therefore they usually live unfulfilled.

There are two main components to figuring out what you want to do:



  1. Does it make you happy when you do it?

  2. Are you consumed by it?


The key question is whose responsibility is it to figure this out?

Often the “THING” you love, finds you. I have seen this with many people. Does luck have anything to do with this? YES, absolutely. People who know exactly what they want, and find it, are truly blessed. You will often find such people at the forefront in their profession because they have been doing it for 15 to 20 years and now are masters. Think of the sports stars who have been practicing their sport since they were 4-7 years old or a musician who is a child prodigy.

As children we need guidance; children don’t actually know what they are good at. I know with my 14 year old son we tried several sports before he found his calling, all by accident. At the age of 7 he went to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and from there it became an obsession with him. There are significant benefits for children who find a sport that they love at an early stage. From discipline, to learning to take instruction, to developing a competitive spirit and problem solving. Whose responsibility is it to guide the child? The parents’!

So if your parents did not have the knowledge to help you or at that situation in life it was difficult, what can you do now?

I find the ideal way to think about this is to reflect and go back into your childhood and think about all the things you did that you liked and didn’t like and then ask the question "WHY?". Write the two sets of answers down and then reflect on them, visualise these memories. This is an exercise that you want to spend time on. After all, you are trying to find out what you really want to do, so give this the appropriate time to reflect and gather your thoughts. Some of you may get a quick answer while others may require more work on this. There is no easy answer to this question. The only suggestion I have for you is that you have to work on this and if you do this exercise honestly, it has the potential to change your life.

From my perspective, I had a burning desire to help sales people because of the pain I went through to get really good at what I do. I got tired of well-meaning sales managers sending me to sales courses that after a while were just spitting out the same message. They weren’t giving me the answers I needed to grow and improve and I was hungry for the knowledge, so I took it upon myself; it was a compulsion to find out what made me tick and what made others tick and how I could get people to say yes to me more often. I wanted answers.

Back to you - when you think about what you want to do and can be happy doing, you also want to examine the reality of your situation (I don’t know what stage in life you are at). Sometimes what we want to do is not possible to do immediately but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on it. It just means you have to make it happen gradually; Rome wasn’t built in a day. The reality of life is it is not always possible to change one’s situation quickly. You have to plan, keep on asking the key question – “will it make me happy if I did that?”

Think about how you build a house - one brick at a time. That is how you build the life you consider your ‘ideal’ life. From personal experience I know it is worthwhile to spend time on this, the benefits far outweigh the accepting, the status quo.
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November 22, 2015

WHY COPYING SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE MAY NOT ALWAYS WORK FOR YOU

I've often been asked by people how to be more successful in sales, get the results they see their peers or other successful people in their industry achieve. Invariably most of these people fail, some achieve short-term success and often they fall back into the usual results they achieved because they couldn’t operate like the person they wanted to copy.

So why does this happen? Why is it hard to copy how successful people do things and why can’t we simply implement what they do? I see many people including self-help gurus talk about modelling successful people, copying their blueprint for success and then they teach this blueprint for success. The problem is there are a number of reasons why it doesn't work. If it did work all the time, there would be successful people everywhere; everyone would be making money, driving fancy cars, living in big houses and going on fancy holidays. Numerous books have been written on the subject and numerous people sell a “quick-fix” idea. People are sold in the dream they want to believe; they want a quick answer to their problems. I am afraid quick fixes don't exist.

A very good example is the recent Rugby World Cup won by the All Blacks as they were expected to. Interestingly, most of the top nations have New Zealand coaches - Scotland, Ireland and Wales - in an effort to copy the All Blacks’ culture and how they play. In fact in a recent article Stuart Barnes was quoted saying that the English need to raid NZ to find coaches to help them get out of their problems. The reality is this has a limited chance of happening. Why is this not possible? Because the environment that people are brought up in has an incredible influence on who they become as people. How you behave and the actions you take, all of it influences and shapes you. When they get into playing rugby in NZ, the first thing boys see is a Rugby ball and the All Blacks on TV; it’s in their DNA. They don’t see a soccer ball, they don’t aspire to join Manchester United or Barcelona. Take this further, when a boy starts to play rugby in New Zealand, he gets used to playing in all kinds of conditions. In fact the conditions can change within half an hour from rain to hail to sunshine to extreme wind or even snow, the grounds they play on can be deep in mud. Contrast that to Australian conditions - the moment it starts to rain and the ground looks like it may get waterlogged, they cancel the game. This rarely happens in New Zealand where the young boy develops the ability to play and adapt in all types of weather conditions. The style of play that is encouraged in New Zealand is very much free expression; play the ball in front of you. The environment that shapes the individual, the heritage, the pride in the jersey, the role models… all play significant parts in shaping the identity of this child. This is one of the reasons why the Robbie Deans experiment did not work in Australia, where he was trying to instill this philosophy within the Wallabies.

The New Zealand coaches are attempting to teach this culture to other nations. NZ is a single sport nation, very much like Brazil. Think about some of the incredible talent coming out of South America. The boys coming out of the favelas in Brazil have amazing skills that the European clubs pay big dollars for. The other thing these clubs pay for is the desperation these players have to leave the tough conditions. Once again the environment has played a significant role.

Coming back to sales, when you look at successful individuals, think about their life; where they were growing up, how they have progressed to be at this stage where they are right now. How do you think the environment has shaped them? What was different about their environment compared to yours? For example, did they have parents who mentored them or have teachers who supported them? How do you think they handled adversity? We frequently hear stories about successful people but we only hear the good stuff.

However, the environment, if it was not helpful to you, does not need to define you. But you need to be aware of its influence and recognise that making change is challenging but not impossible. It requires a conscious effort to change and if you can find supportive managers or a mentor, it will help.

Start to learn to reflect on your life and start to look for the lessons: What could it mean? What could I do? What can I change?

A successful salesperson will not only apply these questions to him/herself, but also to his clients and prospects.

Speaking of the All Blacks, I would like to pay respects to one of the greatest All Black wingers, Jonah Lomu, who passed away recently. Not only was he a great sportsman but also a person whom the world admired for his ability and humility off the pitch. He will surely be missed around the world.
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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.