Ok, so it has been a couple of weeks since my last post. I have a good excuse, but that is exactly what it is, an excuse. I could have found the time to write, but I chose to give in to “the resistance”, as Steven Pressfield calls it. This is how it goes sometimes. My last post is about facing and over coming a fear, and then I spend over a week paralyzed by fear.
I started my new job on Jan 27th, by flying out to southern California for training and meetings. A great and busy week. I was too busy to let fear and doubt occupy my thoughts. The next Monday is where it kicked in. I allowed my brain to buy into some lies, like I can win the race at the start. Anyone that follow F1 knows that’s impossible. There 22 super light cars with over 800 horsepower lined up on a starting grid along the straight. The lights go off, and all 22 drivers take off from a standing start and try to get to turn 1 first. Now they all know thats not possible, and they know they have 50+ laps to go to the end, but there always seems to be one guy that wants win the race at turn 1. What usually happens when a driver tries this from a middle grid position is a huge crash involving several cars. The race is over, lost at turn one. The big end goal is to win the race. To win the race, you have to finish the race, so the first step to achieve the goal is to make it through turn 1.
So, I sit here in my office on the 3rd week in my new job in a complete panic. Why? Because I was focused on winning the race and I had not even made it to turn one yet. I was allowing my mind to be overwhelmed by the end goal, which seemed so far off in the future. Thoughts like “I have a family to provide for and I have to achieve the big goal to do so”. “What if I fail?” “Did God really lead me this new job, or was it my own selfishness.” Of course, the resistance grabs hold of those thoughts and runs wild. I was making calls and getting nowhere. It was freaking me out. I shouldn’t have been freaking out, I mean that is sales, this is how it goes. But the resistance wants us to think that each call that goes poorly, that gets nowhere is a failure. Then the resistance likes to point to our failures. I was mentally locked up by 9:00 am on the third Tuesday of my new job.
So as I sat there in my office, locked up from fear, I do what I do in that situation? I procrastinate! I had allowed the resistance into my work! I go to the kitchen to make some coffee. I love how God works through our weaknesses, and uses our weakness to showcase His Glory. My wife, Becca is in the kitchen, so I mustered the courage to share my thoughts and fears with her. I am so thankful for my wife. She reminded me that I have to focus on what I can control. I can’t control the outcome of my sales calls. I can only influence the outcome. But, I can control making the calls. She reminded me that I need to set daily goals, the steps to achieve the overall goal. To focus on the small goals that lead to the big goal. To focus on God when I am in a storm, and not on the storm. The truth is that I am in control of nothing, and he is in control of everything.
So I return to my office, still worried, but with a plan. I decided to read a devotional before I get started. Wow! That days devotional is about overcoming worries and fear. And one phrase jumps out at me; “Worry about nothing, Pray about everything. I type it up in big one and half inch letters, print it out, and tack it to my wall right in front of me, where I have to see it all day as I work. I struggle with the not worrying part, but I overcome the struggle with the pray about everything part. I set my goal for the day, and then I go about achieving it. I pray before each and every call to remind me that my joy, happiness, and self worth rest in Jesus and not in the outcome of a phone call to a total stranger. Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” I read that as; when I commit my work to the Lord, he will establish a plan for me to “follow.” Not as; “Hey God, here is MY plan, I need you to approve it please.”
Becca gave me the exact kick in the back side that I needed. Her advice freed me up to be me again. I was far more relaxed as I made my sales calls, because I wasn’t worried about making a sale. I was relaxed because I knew that the first call is just a start, entering turn one, and the sale can’t be made at turn one, only lost from going to fast and not paying attention to what is going on around me. Selling is building relationships by getting to know people, understanding their needs, being helpful, providing value. All before you ask the customer for the business. It’s earning the right to ask for the business. That rarely happens on one call. And if it does, I need to examine my process to make sure I’m not taking a short cut that hurts the long term relationship.
I guess my point is that I am realizing that everything I do requires steps, baby steps at first. One bite at a time. One foot after the other. It’s so much easier to challenge our fears when we can chip away at them with productive activity that moves us toward the overall goal. Realizing that perfection is not the goal, that it’s ok to make mistakes and learn from them. I am learning that the worst thing I can do is not do something because I’m afraid to make a mistake. Seems to be a lesson I have to keep learning.