In my book, “Are You for Real?!” I refer to the business of sales as a roller coaster ride. Really, isn’t that life in general? For some people it’s a thrill, for others it can be exhausting and a real drain on your confidence and your ability to rise again and again.
So what’s my advice?
No surprise: Be real.
In other words, you need to maintain a level of honesty with yourself and your situation, no matter which part of the ride you are on. You’ve likely heard the saying that you’re never as good as your most high praise, and you’re never as bad as your worst critic will portray you. Know yourself, and know your abilities and you will see that even in the greatest moments you aren’t likely to maintain that high. Similarly, when you’re down, have that deep knowledge that this, too, is a temporary set back.
Through everything, maintain a clear head and examine what is going right and why when you are “on top.” And when you are in a slump, don’t get discouraged; instead, get strategic in examining what you could do differently, and be willing to change.
Any coach will tell you that in your “down” times, it’s the best opportunity to get creative, innovative, and maybe even a little daring. Just do so with a realistic understanding of what habits will lead you back up, and which will stall you on the tracks.
Some people call it embracing the fear. Funny thing is, people can be afraid of fear, thinking that to feel fearful is to be weak. Instead, realize that everyone experiences fear, and it’s truly a sign that we are facing something new, bold, and “growthful.” Bravery doesn’t exist without fear, and John Maxwell, who is a personal mentor for me, has a great saying: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. Friends, people who don’t change don’t grow, and certainly don’t succeed.
So, when we know that there will be down times, it’s easy to plan for them. When we know it’s going to rain, we grab an umbrella so we can protect ourselves from getting soaked. If we know at some point, then, there will be downturns and disappointments, create a list of possibilities and options to have ready. Then instead of being paralyzed by fear, we take a look at what creative solutions we have to climb out of our slump.
Such action might change the direction of our momentum, but it keeps a momentum going. Maintain that “speed” as well with a deadline to get you from the bottom of the hill to where you’re back on top. Set goals, make decisions, be deliberate and it will create a feeling of positive direction. Not making a decision is the same as saying “I can’t” or “I won’t” and that is a dangerous place to sit.
If you have made a plan, great! Now is the time to act on it, make it real. Literally go from a hypothetical situation to a real one, even before you are sitting at the bottom. Let’s face it, planning is one thing, facing a negative situation in real time is quite another. So why not take the battle to your enemy rather than bracing for impact and hoping your plan works?
For example, you know in your business that there are times of the year where sales slump, or you end up in between projects. NOW is the time to work on building a customer base that can fill that gap, or work on prepping for the next project so that you’re able to manage the busy times that much more effectively and efficiently. If we’re keeping up with the roller coaster analogy, it’s like building a new set of tracks that might dip slightly, but will keep you moving forward, faster.
For those who are motivated by avoiding negative experiences, envisioning your regret as not having got to enjoy any of the ride. Roller coasters for some are indeed a source of anxiety, but watching everyone else come off the ride, exhilarated, laughing and wanting to go back on will likely make you feel worse.
I of course recommend you put a partner in the seat next to you. Often a business coach has been there, done that (if they haven’t please find one who has, otherwise they are either lying or have no success experience to offer you). They can keep you on the tracks and moving forward, helping you to avoid pitfalls, and keeping you focused on the goals that will carry you back up towards the top.
So once you’re strapped in, keep your eyes forward, but not too far ahead. Enjoy the twists, dips and turns. And emerge with a new energy, ready to ride again.