When the alarm goes off, they jump in the shower, grab a bite, and make the 20-foot trek to the home office or 1 hour-commute to the office. The morning will usually start with a review of emails, scanning for anything scary or beautifully good. Then they will look at their calendar for the day.
And here is where the similarity stops.
Why? Because the next decisions (and the series of decisions that will be made for the rest of the day/week/year) will rely entirely on the activities they choose to select. In oversimplified terms, they will either be reactive or proactive. Putting out fires from the day/week before versus investing in the future success of the day/week to come.
But I did say it was an oversimplification. Because it’s not really just about being proactive versus reactive. (Admit it – we all have to a fair bit of both). In fact, I wouldn’t even say that the decisions rely on the activities they choose to do. And the word “entirely” is just hyperbole. It’s really more like 20%. So, where does the rest of the 80% come from?
Well, let’s look at attitude first. Attitude drives the activities that people will choose. Come on. Be honest here. Have you ever pre-selected how you would behave on a conference call based on your attitude about the conference call – even before the conference call was scheduled? If our pool of countless sales people indicate anything, the answer is a resounding YES (hallelujah for the mute button on a speaker phone – so you can answer-emails/eat-something/pretend-you-are-listening-while-you-play-video-games while you “participate” in the call). And the same is true when it’s your favorite customer/leader/etc. and you show up on the call as happy as a first-grader on his/her birthday.
And we choose allow our attitudes to determine which activities we select. All day long.
But even attitude isn’t the real driver here. I would say that the better part of that 80% we are looking for comes from our beliefs. As in, “I believe that I can/cannot make a difference” or “I believe that the situation will/will not get better if I work on it” or “I believe that person will/will not change.”
Toxic beliefs (the beliefs with a decidedly negative spin) produce toxic attitudes. Which drive the selection (or more precisely – the non-selection) of key activities. And empowering beliefs (the beliefs with a decidedly positive spin) produce empowering attitudes. Which drive the selection (and even the non-selection) of key activities. The technical term for this stuff is locus of control (which you can explore here), but instead of turning this into a technical dissertation, I simply like to reference Henry Ford’s sentiment – those who think they can and those who think they can’t are both right.
Beliefs matter. They have a massive, subconsciously powerful influence over many of the things we do. And the success or failures we experience.
And here is where it gets tricky. How would you describe the beliefs that are piled on a sales rep or manager in successive layers… based on what the company does? For every time that a sales professional tries – out of the positivity of her own empowering beliefs – to push through the bureaucracy of Finance/Legal/HR/etc. only to have her efforts nuked obliterated shot down in flaming disgrace. Over and over again.
If that sales pro develops a toxic belief, whose fault is it? How does someone – anyone – protect themselves from the kid of insanity that our own organizations generate?
This is why I ranted spent so much time talking about purpose in my previous blogs. If you want to protect yourself from the insanity, know your purpose. If you want to create a wall of immunity that causes broken promises and unfulfilled expectations to bounce off harmlessly, know your purpose.
When you know your personal purpose, you can fuel your beliefs with it. And this, I genuinely believe, is the key to success.
Purpose-driven beliefs destroy toxic beliefs, which produces purpose-driven attitudes, which drive purpose-driven activities. And here’s the kicker – when purpose-driven activities do not produce the expected results, you do NOT stop trying.
Think of the inventor who keeps experimenting after another failure, after another failure, after yet another failure. Think of the athlete who pushes and battles play after play after play until success is achieved. Think of the soldiers at work this very moment, going out on patrol and volunteering to do things many of us would never choose to do.
Because these people KNOW that they have a purpose to achieve in the long-term that is bigger than the results they experience in the short-term.
The best performers live with purpose. They fuel their beliefs with purpose. And they eventually get amazing results as an output of living with purpose. In a way that is FAR more sustainable than folks who simply grind it out until they eventually burn out.
But hear this: the results themselves are not the purpose. Or better said, the purpose is bigger than the results. Purpose is not defined by the results as much as it is actually defined by the process taken to achieve the results. There is nothing sadder than someone who had great results then was exposed as a fraud/cheat/scam. Whether it’s sports, business, family – whatever – how we live matters. How you live matters.
So if you want to drive results – the most sustainable, empowering, fulfilling results – live your purpose. And if you want to build immunity against the toxicity that your environment can try to dump on you – or even you dump on yourself – live your purpose.
I mua. Onward and upward.
By Tim Ohai