This traditional full English breakfast includ...

In this breakfast, the pig is committed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s a great story I nicked from somewhere that describes the difference between being involved in something and being committed to its success.

Its called the bacon and egg breakfast story, or sometimes the ham and egg breakfast story, and basically it points out that in this situation, the chicken is very much involved, but the pig is committed!

In order to win, you need to be the pig!

In my experience there are two distinct reasons why people fail to commit. There usually isn’t a conscious decision not to ‘commit’ by the way. Rather there is a subconscious withdrawal of any commitment. Its more of a ‘holding back’. And usually the person themselves doesn’t know they are doing it.

Fear of Failure

This is the typical and well understood version of the lack of commitment. When the pressure of failure becomes so big, that the person effected become almost paralysed. ‘If I miss this target I’ll be in real trouble’ is a typical refrain. For someone suffering this way performance anxiety is a huge deal. The object of supporting someone in this space is to reduce the amount of pressure.

1. Get into processes NOT results. Concentrate on the way we do it, rather than what we are aiming for. Some organisations even reward the correct methodology rather than work that achieves some financial target.

2. Get perspective  Often people too close to targets forget that there are other, much more important things to be quite  that worried about! For instance. generally speaking, in our job, these days, no one is in any danger. My Dad was a steel worker and my Grandfather was a miner – Now there is a proper days work!

Underground coal miners of Bachra, India

Coal miners of Bachra, India putting in a proper days work (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fear of Success

A more complex and lesser understood issue in high performing teams is that of a fear of actually winning. Or more appropriately, a fear of where winning will eventually take you!

When targets are achieved, targets seem to go up! Its very rare a successful person finds them going the other way. And again, its not just revenue targets, its other measures of success that can trip us up.

Get good at delivering training to your colleagues and find yourself travelling all over the country to train people within the larger group, extending your responsibilities and work load.

I’ve felt this pressure myself I think. You do wonder where it will all end sometimes. Work seems to go faster and faster and everyone wants more and more. It never seems to stop!

But here’s the thing

I think its fair to say, most of the time, successful people either have it, or don’t. You can’t put in what God left out.

For instance, I have yet to be able to ‘fix’ a sales person that didn’t have that indefinable X factor that makes them commit and go out there and kick down doors and make deals happen.

I have seen seemingly perfectly nice, intelligent people, that fully understand the process fail. I have seen people with less ‘intellectual’ ability, with no idea what it is they really do to win, win big. And of course, vise versa.

Sometimes it just takes time. But sometimes someone will ‘get it’ and not deliver, and its tough to know when to give up on them. A ton of times people I was afraid weren’t going to be able to do it, people I had invested loads of time into, would finally come good. There might be a catalyst to this sudden conversion but sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason to it at all.

Other times there have been people who I have felt have the sales world at their feet. All that they needed to do was to get it to ‘click’ and they would be a huge success. But they never lived up to the expectation, and become too embarrassed to stick around any longer.

The X Factor

Lost in a Crowd

Some people just stand out (Photo credit: Keoni Cabral)

So what is it? What makes the successful different? No idea!

I haven’t a clue, and I don’t know how to spot it with 100% certainty either. I’ve got it right more than I’ve got it wrong and I think because I tend to employ sales people with similar attributes.

Hunger, intelligence, creativity and so on. But sometimes I have got it wrong, and I have said goodbye to people I had thought were going to make it big.

The one thing that all the ones who make it DO have however, is commitment.

They are absolutely committed to the goal of winning. Committed to their clients and helping their clients win too. Committed to getting better and better. Committed to giving their families the absolute best they can.

They ‘work shift’: They work long hours, they work when everyone else is at home. They work smart, they work the angles they work the systems. They push and pull everything this way and that.

They know it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission.

And I love working with them!

When you got it, you got it

I can see it in the eyes usually. Its like a burning desire. A shining light. Its energy and enthusiasm and an absolute point blank refusal to give up. These people don’t know when they are beaten.

The trouble is, its really hard to know if someone has it, until you see it.

Its pretty easy to see it if you’re dealing with an experienced hand with a track record of achievement. Which is why your track record is so important.

But for new blood? Its much tougher. And you have to take the risk, and sometimes get it wrong.

You have to get it wrong to get it right, because getting it right can pay off big time.

What about you? Have you got it wrong? How do you tell if they have it or not?

Will you take the risk on someone unproven or stick with the tried and tested? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you! Or you can email me on [email protected]

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4 replies
  1. Steve Jones (@kilfrew)
    Steve Jones (@kilfrew) says:

    Hi Tony, Great article.
    One thing I’ve said for a long time. You can teach skills but you can’t teach attitude. I think we’ve all made mistakes and taken people on with all the right skills but miss that vital something…. & that something is attitude

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