If you want better results than you are generating now, you have to pay for them in advance. Paying for them means first improving yourself. If you’re going to do more, have more, and contribute more, you have to start with being more than you are now. You have to grow, and you have to improve until you become someone capable of producing better results.
Getting Things Backwards
Everybody wants. They want more money. They want better results. They want to advance in their career. They want a great life outside of work. But mostly they want these things without having to change who they are and what they are doing. If wanting were enough, everyone would already have there every wish and hope and dream.
Wanting, wishing, hoping, and dreaming isn’t enough to give you the results you want. The result doesn’t come before the effort, and the effort isn’t usually effective before the growth that allows one to take sufficient action in pursuit of their desired results. Wanting, wishing, hoping, and dreaming requires nothing from you. Results, success, the attainment of your goals all require more—much more—starting with you becoming a person capable of the effective action necessary to produce the results you want.
Professional Development is Personal
When you are working on developing yourself personally, you are developing yourself professionally. Whatever you do as it pertains to your professional development also spills over into your personal life. How could it be otherwise? There is only one “you,” and the “you” at work is the same “you” at home.
For most of human history, people believed that you grew as much as you need to—and as much as was possible—by the age of around 18 years old. Robert Keegan’s work has proven otherwise; we continue to grow throughout our lives—and we are all pure potential, which brings me to one of my core beliefs that no human has ever reached their full potential, not DaVinci, not Einstein, not me, and not you.
Without knowing how accurate the stat is, they say some meager percentage of the population every reads a book after high school, and a small number reads after college. I do know, however, that most people do very little to improve their competencies when it comes to their profession—including salespeople.
Your primary directive must be to grow and evolve, leaving what you are now to become the person that comes after who you are now.
The First Order of Business
Your first order of business must be becoming an expert. You have to acquire and develop your skills. You are not going to produce the result of a professional when your competency is that of an amateur. You are not going to match the expert when you have the skills of a novice. If you want big-time success, you have to develop big-time competencies.
The time you work in a role is not a real indication as to your competency. The 10,000 hour doesn’t suggest that the famous number is proof of positive of expertise. Instead, Ericsson’s theory is that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, practice so intense that after a couple of hours of work, you need to rest. Deliberate practice means working on something until you perfect it. When was the last time you worked so hard on some competency that you need a nap?
If you work in sales, you need competencies in many different areas, many of which you will find in The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, starting with your mindset, with Self-Discipline, Optimism, Caring, Competitiveness, Resourcefulness, Persistence, Initiative, Communication, and Accountability. The reason these attributes (or character traits) come first is that they are what is necessary to becoming someone worth buying from in the first place. At the same time, you also need to be competent in the skills of sales: Closing, Prospecting, Storytelling, Diagnosing, Negotiating, Business Acumen, Change Management, and Leadership.
I put a reading list at the end of every chapter in that book so readers could get additional help in developing these competencies. The two books that followed both focused on skills, with The Lost Art of Closing focused on commitment-gaining, and Eat Their Lunch devoted to making business acumen practical and tactical, so you can displace your competitors and steal your dream client away.
Build a Plan
If there is some area where you need to improve your competency, pick up three books on the subject, read them all, take notes on the author’s beliefs and the actions they suggest you take. Make a list of things you will do differently after studying the topic and stick with it long enough to improve in that area.
With the advent of the internet, there is no end of courses and training available to you at a lower cost than ever, especially since you can take them without having to travel and at your own pace. If you are not enrolled in a program now, find something you want to learn and get started. Start applying what you learn.
Competency only follows action. Reading a book and not acting on what you learned is the same as not having read the book. Taking a course without applying what you are learning is the same as not taking the course at all, expect you will have wasted your time and money, leaving you no better than you were—and maybe worse off.
The best performers in any human endeavor are the ones with the highest competency, experts, if you will. There are a few with natural attributes and talents, those who were born to do something, but most of them developed themselves in the quiet hours of the day when it was dark outside, and everyone else was sleeping.
You don’t see people doing the work of developing the competency you admire; you only see the result. A result this also available to you, should you decide to do the work to acquire it.
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