Among other things I have been a dancer, a salesman, a sales manager, a sale trainer, a sales and life and business coach, and a network marketer/team builder. In every one of these roles I have found myself and the people I worked with finding ways to make something that is really straightforward into a complex obstacle course that keeps tripping the players. It has fascinated me since I first recognized the phenomenon.
I also found that there is a second set of individuals for whom things seemed to work very naturally and almost effortlessly.
The first group of people kept looking for the magic bullet shortcut that was going to make things work for them. For the most part, the problems in all the professional roles I described were of our own making. In sales this group was aptly described by the national VP of Sales of a company I worked with: “Sales people are always looking for some magic fix, some short-cut that is going to turn them into super producers.”
In dance I would hear people in this group complain that if the choreographer would “just give me the role I’ll show him what I can do!” Of course they were working things backward. The way it works is you show them what you can do in the corps and in the minor roles and then the choreographer already knows what you could, and likely would, do.
Just like in sales. You want a promotion? You want to make more money? Then sell something.
Sometimes there were technical dance issues that needed fixing. I had lots of dance teachers along the way but there were a special few who really saw what was happening with me and my body and were able to tell me EXACTLY what I needed to change to make things work. Finding those teachers was transformational. Dance is very technical and unusually challenging – especially at that level – and finding teachers like that is like finding unicorns. They are out there and when you find one, please take advantage of the blessing.
The truth is that the individuals who seemed to be charmed were rarely people of transcendent talent and frequently didn’t have the unicorn-like mentor.
Rarely, and I do mean rarely, the gods put the perfect combination of talent, training, timing, and temperament into one individual who is, in fact, a kind of miracle. But those people are so rare that they are never the foundation of a company or a team.
The vast majority of the top performers are people who have just taken the fundamentals of their trade, craft, or profession and worked them with consistency, over and over and over until that is just the way that those individuals are.
I once hired a salesman who gave you the distinct impression that he was the model for Elmer Fudd. Not what you would call a reservoir of natural talent. But his habits, his practices, his discipline, were such that he quickly became the top salesman in our international organization selling financial services.
In my current businesses you see many people who seem to be charmed in the way that they present and speak and lead. But I have known many of them when they were totally new, just starting out, and no one knew who they were. They all have one thing in common.
They chose a few things that they knew were important and they did them. And they did them over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…. until that was just who they are.
Are they geniuses? Who cares?
They are people who have chosen to follow the path of simple repetition and through discipline they became the best of the best.
I have read more than once that a little known rock and roll group left Liverpool in 1960 as a bar band and came back as The Beatles because they had to play hour after hour after hour in the Hamburg clubs where they worked. An interesting thing about most rock and roll music is that it is pretty much based on three cords, the I – IV – V progression. Really master those and you’re pretty damn good at rock and roll. And then… you get creative.
And just maybe, really good.
The thing that really sets the high performers apart is their JOURNEYMAN approach.
When I used to make cold calls for a living I was taught, at the time, that if I walked into 50 to 70 businesses a week I would earn between 40 thousand and 50 thousand dollars a year. (It was a lot of money at the time.) I was also told that it won’t work if you just walk into 50 businesses every Friday. What they were teaching me was that I needed to establish a HABIT, a daily operating system, that just involved 10 to 12 walkins on average every day. And you know what? I could do that in about an hour and a half and still be really effective.
I don’t know what the numbers are for your business. You will need to just make 100 attempts and then you will have a baseline of what is needed in your business in your market based on your skill level.
But I can guarantee this:
An average person making 100 attempts is going to beat a very good person who makes 10 attempts. Every time.
That’s just the way it works.
So, there it is. That is what it would be like if it was easy.
You pick a few things to do each day.
Do them a lot.
For a long time.
And when you get REALLY good with them, then you can get creative.
Michael Stammer is a business, sales, and personal coach available for individual and group coaching and speaking to organizations. For more visit www.coachmichael.com
Image By Brian Evans, used under Creative Commons License. "This guy operates on a street corner and will make or repair pretty much anything. Bacolod City, Philippines."