I have a personal policy that a book should be recommended to me by two different people before I think of going out and getting it. ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed, an ex Olympian table tennis player, was recommended to me by four people before I could get my hands on a copy and make some time to read it! For anyone that is keen to understand the keys to personal growth and development in virtually any aspect of your life then you should read this book.
Its basic premise is that, “Practice makes perfect” – that simple High Performers understanding that top performance is born through hard work and dedication! Of course the quick fix generation we live in, where people can be made famous and rich by being on Big Brother and X Factor and people dream that the lottery will one day come in for us, has led so many of today’s generation into thinking there is a golden bullet out there and this belief is no different in the sales world.
However, there is no such thing as a short cut. All of the ‘talented’ individuals that you can think of, upon investigation, show that it is dedicated work that was the key to their success – the Williams sisters, Steve Jobs, JK Rowling, Andre Agassi and the list goes on. As Calvin Coolidge, ex-president of the United States, was recorded saying, “Hard work and determination are omnipotent.” At SBR Consulting, we are big advocates of this but we understand that at times the hard work can be frustrating and agonising. That’s why we need to concentrate on what it takes to hit the numbers, i.e. the activity and attitude rather than just winning the business.
So you might ask, “But if lots of practice makes perfect, then why am I not a great motor racing driver as I drive for 1,000’s of hours over the course of my life time.” Well even though this may seem like a lot of practice, and there is something to be said for the experience it brings, like being able to read the road and anticipate that the car slowing down in front of you is in fact likely to turn without indicating, to be an expert we need ‘purposeful practice’. This doesn’t come from driving and talking, changing the radio station and eating that well deserved lunch during the journey. It comes from a steely focus and determination that motivates you to practice and train for hours every day.
I was following a young sales person recently from Thomson Reuters on a client visit. Not concerned with my presence she was excited to learn the areas she could improve in. I could hear the nervousness in her voice but she wasn’t put off with the constructive feedback that followed the meeting and was genuinely excited about being shadowed as only growth would come out of the experience – that was purposeful practice!
Mathew Syed, goes on to talk in his book, “Bounce” about the power of the mind and that ‘self talk’ (SBR’s term for it) is the other essential ingredient to success. A well known Henry Ford quote goes – ‘Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re absolutely right’. Peter Thompson, a prolific speaker and sales guru in the UK says you must, “Take a check up from the neck up!” i.e. look at what you say to yourself about your performance? Are you learning from every situation? Do you wallow in poor performance or do you grow from it? Thomas Edison talked about the idea that “There is no such thing as failure, only results that you get you closer to the situation”. These key attributes of successful people are proven to have worked for them. Realise that you are one of those people on your journey. You may be slightly behind where you want to be, but not as far as you think. Remember 0.03% daily improvement is more than 100% improvement in one year so focus on constant improvement and practice daily.
Director at SBR Consulting
* who himself learnt to swim in order to compete as a top performing Tri-athlete (2006) and learnt to ski in order to race to the North Pole (2007)