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What's in Your Future?


I borrowed the phrase from the Capital One commercial to illustrate how performance development is key to creating and achieving your future. Not everyone wants to know their future, but I believe everyone wants to be successful. How do we plan and implement steps and strategies to live the future we see for ourselves? Here are three areas that highlight how to improve performance development.

1. Courage

Improved performance development starts with us. We work for great companies that provide great products and services for our clients. Those products and services help our clients solve problems. There is a marketplace for what we do, and if we are honest with ourselves, we haven’t reached out to that untapped market. So, back to us.
We are our own worst enemy. We believe, incorrectly, certain things about ourselves that are no longer true. They may have been true at some point in time, but they are no longer true today. Why do we still believe them? I am certain that we must change those thoughts into new beliefs that make sense for us now.

I struggled for many years in making the kind of money that I only dreamed of making. My daddy used to say, “If you have to ask for a raise, you don’t deserve it.” I understood the underlying message that work hard work will be rewarded, but I never learned to ask for what I deserve. A colleague asked me once, years later, “What would you do with the money you deserve?” My response was freeing. I told her that I could help others live better lives. That simple response shaped my first belief statement change. My new belief statement is this: When I ask for what I deserve, I can help Esther, Sara, and others live better lives.

I had the courage to change my belief system, which gave me the courage to ask for what I deserve. When I ask for what I deserve, I often get it. (Funny how that works!) Be courageous enough to get out of our own way and re-shape your beliefs. The results will be transformative.

2. Action

William James was an American philosopher and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. He was a leading thinker of the late nineteenth century and has been labeled the “Father of American psychology”.
James developed the theory of emotion that states emotion is equivalent to the range of physiological arousal caused by external events. For someone to feel emotion, he/she must first experience bodily responses such as increased respiration, increased heart rate, or sweaty hands. Once this physiological response is recognized, then the person can say that he/she feels the emotion.

So, when you see a bear in the woods, you don’t run because you are scared. You run, and therefore, you are scared. The action precedes the emotion.

What does this have to do with performance development? Everything. When we face a problem, we often deal with the emotional issue and then act on the problem. This approach is inefficient and often fails to resolve the problem. The better approach is to act. Often the action solves the problem, which in many cases resolves the emotional issue as well.

When Friday comes and you haven’t completed all your prospecting behaviors, it’s fair to say that your level of anxiety increases. That increase inhibits, sometimes cripples, us from doing the behaviors. The increased anxiety ruins the weekend and leaves us dreading the sales meeting on Monday.

If we follow James’ theory, just act. Just do it. Pick up the phone. Send the email. Connect on LinkedIn. The action doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done.

3. Curiosity

How many of you are genuinely curious about learning? On some levels, I have stopped learning, but when it comes to learning about my prospects, I am always curious.

Why? Because I want to get to the truth. And the truth is either “yes” or “no”. I don’t focus on winning a piece of business, I focus on helping my prospect discover, for themselves, whether working together or not working together is the right decision. When I help them do that I win, because the win for me is getting to the truth.

Getting to the truth is about asking questions and making the conversation about the other person. I am genuinely curious as to why they want to fix a problem and why they want me to help them fix it. Too many times salespeople start a conversation with a prospect with the expectation that they want to sell them. Stop.

A good salesperson’s expectation should center on being nurturingly curious in the quest for the truth. If I am curious, I ask more questions. If I ask more questions, I seem more interested in them than in me. If my prospect feels comfortable, they share more. More information provides clearer answers. Clearer answers provide the truth. The truth is the win.

Take courage and get out of your own darn way. Act without concern for results and good things will happen. Be curious and you will hear what you need to hear to help.

Your future is yours to shape.

Ken Seawell​​

Ken Seawell

Managing Partner Sandler Michigan - EAM Consulting Group