Our brain is an energy pig. It uses mental tricks, called “heuristics” (aka “biases”) to conserve energy. When we are in a rapidly changing environment these heuristics can create powerful stories (e.g. “don’t call your clients because they’ll want to cancel”) that stop us from doing the proactive activities that brought us success in the past.
Kind of like the character in a TV comedy who talked to a doctor about their “friend” who had a problem, when they were the ones with the problem, we might not recognize the stories that we’re buying into, especially if we consider those stories to be “facts” (e.g. “I can’t ask a prospect if they want to move forward with my proposal because of COVID-19”).
The stories are brain makes up are meant to keep us “safe,” by keeping us in place; however, if we are in place we are at rest and at rest we have no momentum to keep us moving toward achieving our goals.
When we hear ourselves say, “I can’t because <BLANK>” we’re likely buying into a made-up story.
To erase our stories and keep our momentum:
- Write down the story – we’re not going to be novelists. The <BLANK> above is typically a few words or a long sentence at most. When we write down the story it becomes real and we can respond to it intellectually. If we don’t write it down, it stays in our brain and we will react to it emotionally.
- Ask “if <BLANK> weren’t happening what would I do?” – then answer out loud, even if that’s a whisper. What our clients shared with us is that the answer to “what would I do” is a proactive action that they would do under normal conditions. By speaking our answer allowed we engage our brain in solution finding (and momentum keeping) instead of defending.
- Take the action we described in step 2 – preferably within a few minutes after coming up with our answer. The longer we wait the more resistance our brain will build in the form of new stories to keep us “safe.”
When we take action we must be emotionally unattached from the outcome. We are all under stress as our world rapidly changes due to COVID-19 (and the price of oil if you are in an energy producing region) so our behavior and our client’s behavior will be affected. A turn of phrase or a note sent in January that would have been well received by a client then may damage rapport today.
To stay emotionally unattached adopt the mindset that “the action is the win.” We can’t control our client’s reaction to our action (e.g. making a call to ask if they want to proceed), but we can control our response if we are focused on seeking data and believe we’ve already won when we make the call.
Until next time… go sell something.