Last week my son Zack’s car broke down on the way to work.
This was the first of a small avalanche of problems:
- He rescheduled all of his shoots for the next day and dropped his car off at the mechanic.
- He drove 30 miles to my house to borrow my car.
- The next morning, he woke up to my car having a flat tire.
- Because he had packed his schedule with 2 days of shoots he no time for dealing with this, he left the car and took Uber.
- That night when he got home, he couldn’t get the spare tire out because the bolt holding it in place had corroded and could not be budged.
- After hours of working it, he was finally able to get the spare out of the trunk, only to find that the spare tire was flat.
- The next morning he took Uber again and rescheduled more shoots. That night, he took my car to the tire store and replaced the flat tire.
- By now he was exhausted. It was nearing midnight and he’d been working nonstop for 3 days. He went into a Wendy’s get something to eat. When he came out, the car wouldn’t start.
- In frustration, he gave up, left the car at Wendy’s, sent me a text and walked home.
- I told him to rent a car and that I’d take care of my car. The next day, when I got in my car, I noticed that it wasn’t fully in Park. I put it in Park and it started right up.
For Zack, it was just one of those days (click for Limp Bizkit’s 1999 Classic – just keep the volume low if you’re in a quiet office).
We’ve all had days like this.
- It’s the end of the quarter. Your team is struggling to barely hit quota. You’ve been working 12 hours days all week to help your reps close deals. First, one of your three big deals you were counting on winning falls out. Then your #1 Rep comes into your office and gives his notice.
- It’s Q1 and you’ve been told there’s a hiring freeze so you cannot fill your two open rep slots. Then you get handed your quota and it is higher than Q4’s. Not only do you have to hit a larger number – you have to do it while you are down 2 reps!
- You recently bought a new house. A week later you get a call from your boss saying your position has been eliminated.
In retrospect, we can often look back on these experiences and laugh. Or, we can see them as valuable learning experiences. Or, at the very least, we can be glad they are over and that we got through them.
But when we’re in the middle of the problems, it sometimes feels like everything is falling apart at once.
Here’s what I’ve learned to do:
- Step away from the problem. Literally. I have to shut off my laptop, leave the office, go for a walk or whatever it takes to physically remove myself from the problem. Zack actually did a good job of this when he left the car at Wendy’s.
- Ask for help. This is difficult for me to do. I like to be seen as self-sufficient, a problem solver and can-do guy. So does my son Zack. Had he called me from Wendy’s that night, I could have helped him troubleshoot the car issue and we would have resolved it.
- Talk it out. My mentors, colleagues and wife are invaluable here. If I just talk to one of them and explain what’s going on, they can usually help me work out a good course of action. If you’ve got nobody to work through this with you, give me a call.
- Pause, refocus and collect your thoughts – the right answer will come. Most of the time, we know what needs to be done. We’re just blocked by our anger, frustration, or fear from taking the next right step. Pausing for a while until we calm down can help with this. At times, I need to go exercise, walk the dog, do yoga or even hit a heavy bag just to get my mind cleared.
To finish the story I opened with, a week later Zack got his car back from the mechanic after a few hundred dollars of repairs. He drove it home. The next day, it died in the middle of an intersection.
This time Zack just laughed.
By now he had already done all of the 4 steps above. He knew what to do.
If you want my help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you.
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