Have you ever had the feeling that you were on a roll, and then all of a sudden, your streak ended and you couldn’t get back on top? In sales, in poker, or life in general? It has happened to all of us, and the trick is understanding what to do about it when it does happen.
The Power of Perspective
Guess what? You’re human! And because you are human, you are susceptible to your own emotions. Why do you sometimes feel as though you are unstoppable, and sometimes you feel that nothing goes right?
There is much research around how our transitional self-concept is altered by events in our lives. However we perceive ourselves in a given moment typically causes us to perform as such – good or bad. And sometimes there are events that may be beyond our control that cause us to react this way. So your self-concept is basically anchored to your perception of events around you and how you deal with them. Let’s take a look at three types of scenarios that can alter our self-concept:
a) Directly Personal
You may temporarily alter your perception of your abilities based on something that recently happened – either to you or caused by you. If you have made several mistakes at work recently, you may feel hesitant to tackle the next task. If you had a series of big wins in your life, you may feel as though every situation will be a win. You may have recently been in a car accident and are now an overly-cautious driver. These are just some examples of how something specific happening to you personally can alter your next actions.
REAL WORLD: A poker player loses a series of big hands in a short time. His self-concept has now changed to one of being unlucky or, at the least, not playing well. The decisions he makes over the next few hands may be skewed by this and he may only play strong hands, reducing his confidence in bluffing. This can then alter his success for the rest of his game.
b) Indirectly Personal
Have you had those days when things were just going your way? Someone may have commented on your new haircut, or you may have found five dollars on the street. Things happen to you on a day to day basis that can affect your mood and your self-concept. When things do go your way, you get into the “I can do anything” mode! But when simple, innocuous events happen to us that are perceived as negative, we may withdraw into ourselves and feel as though the world is conspiring against us.
REAL WORLD: Bob works out, eats healthier, and loses twenty pounds. Everyone tells Bob that he looks younger and more vibrant. He is definitely more inclined to take on new projects or meet new people. Things that, previously, he may have resisted.
The world is messed up, man. Things happen every day that are negative, and to be quite honest, the most negative events make the best news. It is unfortunate, but that is the society we live in, and why I don’t recommend watching the news. You may see a big car crash in the news and start to fear driving. your risk of getting into a car crash has not changed, only your perception of it. Events in the world around you can either make you afraid or bolster your confidence – crazy, right?
REAL WORLD: A real estate agent works hard to sell houses every day, and one night watches the news to see another story on house prices plummeting. Over the next few days, she is not motivated and feels a bit like the market she is in will never turn around. She does not show the homes to her potential clients with the same enthusiasm and vigor. She loses the sale to another realtor who has a great attitude that day. She then equates losing the sale with the market, when in reality, it was her. This is a perfect example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
These are all examples of how the world can affect us, each and every day. So what can you do about it? Follow the steps below:
1) Practice, Practice, Practice Finding the Positive
To arm yourself against the emotional bullets the world throws at you, start practicing seeing the positive in every situation. In our business, we joke about every situation and regardless of what happens, we say, “That’s normal.” That way, we are never surprised when something goes wrong. Real champions are the ones who are excited even when there is nothing to get excited about. If you have a hard time finding the positive in a given situation, ask someone to help you. Heck, ask me. Remember that if you have customer problems, it means that you have CUSTOMERS!!
I recommend reading some books, or watching some videos by the late Jim Rohn. One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Rohn is, “Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more solutions.”
2) The “Foot-In-The-Door” Technique
A well know study was conducted years ago to show how people will respond much more favorably to a small request prior to a larger one, rather than a large request up front.
Freedman and Fraser (1996) asked homeowners if they would allow a huge “DRIVE CAREFULLY” sign to be placed in their front yard. Only 17% of the people agreed to the request. Other residents were asked with a much smaller request – to put a three inch “BE A SAFE DRIVER” sign in their front window. Nearly all residents agreed to do that. When approached a few weeks later, the same group overwhelmingly agreed (76%) to have the gigantic sign placed in their front yard.
If you are struggling with getting people to do things for you – whether it’s buy your product or service, help you with something, or just discussing a business opportunity – try this technique. Especially if you are trying to build a solid network, spend time doing the small things, like going for coffee and just chatting. Get to know people, and eventually if the conversation turns to business, then you have a real relationship built on a foundation of trust and respect. People do business with those they trust. Too many times, we try and swing for the fences, only to get rejected immediately. Start slow, have patience, and don’t ask too much to begin with.
3) Realize how you are BEING perceived
Understand that you are being watched all the time. And that you can be perceived any way you like, at any time. We all know the saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression (Head and Shoulders, right?). And once someone has made a judgement about you, it is one hundred times harder to alter their opinion. So if you want to be perceived as positive, confident, and powerful, then you must carry yourself in that manner all the time.
Real leaders are measured during the moments when challenges are present. Do you over-react? Do you find solutions? Do you ease everyone’s concerns? Do you crawl into a corner and hope all the bad stuff stops? Whatever you do, people watch – good or bad. So go out and claim your personal brand! Whoever you aspire to be in five years, start acting like that person today. Think about the people that you admire and emulate how they carry themselves.
3.5 Impact Others!
Now that you understand how susceptible we all our to our own emotions, you must truly understand the absolute POWER you yield in every interaction you have with others. Stop thinking about yourself and start noticing the world and people around you. Pay very close attention to the little things that people do and use that information to inspire others. Notice new haircuts and make positive and genuine compliments about them. Look for someone’s new earrings and ask sincere questions. If someone is doing a good job, tell them so – NOW! Do you know what three things that person values? If not, go find out and engage in a thoughtful and meaningful dialogue.
You have the power to affect someone’s self-concept today, and that small thing you may do for someone could be a catalyst and affect how they interact with others, perform their duties, or just how they feel about themselves forever. You could make a comment about how professional someone looks today, right before they were about to go into an important meeting. And during that meeting, they feel confident, get the promotion, and it changes their life forever. You may never know the results of the small things you do, but do them enough, and the universe will pay you back in kind.
“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
– Mary Pickford (1892–1979)