Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pulled in different directions, only one measurement counts: results

At the moment there is about six of me having six different convos. There’s The Manager writing end of the year summaries of accomplishments and big misses and delivering both tough and encouraging messages during performance appraisals. There’s The Mom trying to understand her teen’s motivation to suddenly change schools. There’s The Friend who is supporting new ventures and cheering each stop toward success.

There is the Northwest Native who is mesmerized daily by how the world morphs physically, and especially now as spring stretches and pokes her Pretty Pansies out from under winter blankets and taunts us by pulling her resilient friend Miss Weeds along with her. Next, there is The Writer scribing her second fiction manuscript, a task that is amazingly easier to tackle than the first.

And lastly, there is The Social Carol, aka The Classic Carol, who explores Facebook, Foodspotting, Foursquare, FriendFeed, Flickr, Gist, MySpace, Picasa, Plancast, Posterous, Shelfari, Upcoming, Yelp, Twitter, You Tube—you name it—and entices others to engage in real life at 'headquarters.'

But let’s start with the manager.

This week I shared a story with the sales staff I read in the book 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make: And How You Can Avoid Them. It was about a farmer, Walter Frank, who contracted a debilitating disease and learned at age 27 he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Life as he knew it was over. Done.

Farming is a very physical activity. He could no longer craft a successful career in agriculture so he turned to sales, but not inside or phone sales, which would have been easy, he became a Realtor. He learned he could roll up to a house and ask for a listing, but can you imagine the obstacles he faced showing homes? He went as far as he could go and sent his customer ahead and asked them to describe what they saw. He went on to establish his own real estate company in Oshawa, Ontario, Royal LePage Frank Real Estate.

I drew the parallel that we do the same thing with our customers. We can’t be them, own their business and understand all the nuances as thoroughly as they do, but we do ask them to tell us what they are experiencing. We in essence see through their eyes, we listen to understand, assess their needs and match with products from our portfolio. There was some head nodding, as the sales staff relaxed into a good story.

Then I ratcheted it up.

No one would have blamed the farmer had he given up on an active life and left others to take care of him, collected disability and rolled into the sunset. But he didn’t use his disability as an excuse. Are we? The biggest obstacle we face right now is the economy, and no one will disagree when we say it’s hard out there, or blame us if we just get pooped out from hearing no after no. But in the end who do we want to be, the one who gave up, or the person who kept trying?

When you try, even just one more time, sometimes luck happens. Sometimes you’re in the right place at the right time. Maybe it’s not what you’re doing, but merely the fact that you are doing something, moving the air around you and taking advantage of the fresh breeze that blows back and gives you a second wind.

Don’t give up. There is something you can do right now to survive in business, even if its investing $3.50 on a used book from Powell's Books in Portland, or my one of my favorite book shops in Vancouver Cover to Cover Books.

What's your disability?

What are doing about it?