Tomorrow morning when you wake up, you probably won’t feel like prospecting, returning customer calls, or strategizing your schedule. And if you do, you probably won’t feel like doing it the next day.
This is precisely why goal setting fails. We focus on outcomes rather than the activities that drive the outcomes. Then, we lose patience.
If we don’t shed those 30 pounds, run that marathon, or close that big whale of a client by March 1st, we give up.
That’s why discipline is the most critical skill to achieve your goals in 2021.
As an example, last year I set a goal to run a half marathon. I decided, “I’m a runner. Runners go running every day.” I stuck to the process and, lo and behold, I made it across the finish line (albeit slowly). The question wasn’t whether I should run today or not, it was whether I should run on the trail or on the street. Either way, I ran.
Finishing the race required discipline. An example of someone with discipline is Jerry Seinfeld. He is regarded as one of the “Top 100 Comedians of All–Time” by Comedy Central. According to Forbes magazine, Seinfeld reached his peak in earnings when he made $267 million dollars in 1998. In 2008, Seinfeld was still pulling in $85 million per year.
By almost any measure of wealth, popularity, and critical acclaim, Jerry Seinfeld is among the most successful comedians, writers, and actors of his generation. However, what is most impressive about Seinfeld’s career is the remarkable discipline and consistency of it all. Show after show, year after year, he performs, creates, and entertains at an incredibly high standard. Jerry Seinfeld produces with a level of discipline that we should bring to our virtual sales. How does he do it?
Seinfeld explains that to be a better comic, you must exercise discipline. You need to write every day for a prescribed period of time. Somedays you’ll write well, somedays you won’t. But you need to consistently do the work.
He recommends hanging a big calendar on the wall. Next, find a big red magic marker. Each day after you complete your most important task, put a red X over that day.
Here’s how to put discipline into action:
Covet Your Mornings: For most, this is when energy is the highest and decision making is at its best. Refrain from checking social media posts or reading email first thing. Instead, ask yourself what activity will produce the greatest outcome. Prospecting? Researching customers? Creating a Pre-Call Plan? Focus on activities that are goal-achieving rather than stress-relieving. And don’t break the chain.
Structure Your Time: Structure saves us from having to ask questions like “Should I prospect this morning? Should I skip the rapport-building step because my prospect is in a hurry? Which discovery questions do I ask?” Having a structure means you stop asking whether or not you feel like doing your job today. You just do it. You need to know your product, your technology, and your methods backward and forwards so that the mechanics become effortless and your passion becomes contagious. The process frees your mind so you can open your heart to the person in front of you.
Work Scarier: Muster the discipline to not only make more calls but to also make the scarier calls. Don’t simply send emails and texts. Pick up the phone, schedule a meeting, engage in dialogue. The call you’re afraid to make is the call you must make!
Just Say No: Most of the time when you ask someone how they are, they will reply with some version of “busy”, “good, but busy” or even, at times, “crazy busy”. Busy has become a badge of honor, a marker of success – a humble brag that implies we are important and in demand. But if you really are “too busy”, chances are you aren’t saying no enough. I often recommend creating a NOT-to-do list. To make the time to get what you want, you must have the discipline to ask yourself, “What am I willing to say no to?”
Do the Work: As author Eric Greitens says in the book, Resilience, “Part of the joy of entertainment is that we can appreciate the fruits of someone’s labor without having to do the work ourselves. We watch the dance, but we don’t have to sweat. We watch the game, but we don’t have to practice through injury. We watch the play, but we don’t have to write, direct, adjust the light or rehearse.
Here is a short list of my (almost) daily activity goals for 2021. I’d love to hear yours!
You won’t feel like it, but remember this: just as feelings lead to actions, actions create feelings – pleasure or pain, guilt or shame.
With discipline and repetition, what was once difficult will become familiar.
It all starts with discipline. The discipline to focus on what you repeatedly do will ultimately change who you become.
Be More Sell More