Actually, as I get a little older and a little wiser (in theory) I am coming to believe this more and more. Challenges give you the opportunity to learn and grow and expand your thinking. It’s not easy, it’s not fun but life isn’t always fun.
When I was a computer programmer I hated “challenges” mainly because that was just a fancy way of saying there was a problem or a bug and it meant that something wasn’t working right that needed my attention above and beyond pretty much anything else I was doing.
In my personal life it has meant that something wasn’t going according to plan and I would now have to figure out a work around or come up with another solution. Anybody that knows me knows that I never really liked it when things didn’t work out the way I had them planned in my mind!
Now that I am in sales and am working on myself and my attitude I am coming to realize more and more that challenges are really gifts. They are opportunities to think outside of the box and come up with new and better ways of doing things. They allow me to see where my mind was closed on a subject and allows me to reopen it and be more and better.
Let me give you a couple of real life examples:
1. About a month ago my sons and I were driving to our weekly scout meeting and my older son made a comment which had me flipping out at him before he even finished the sentence. Normally when I overreact like this he sits quietly stewing and waits for the “big boomer” to pass by. This time I must have really struck a nerve with something I said because he actually got in my face and starts screaming back at me!
That took me back and made me shut up and actually listen to what he was saying and even more so to what he WASN’T saying. We eventually had a very long and deep conversation and I learned a lot about him that night. Because I was able to use that challenge as an opportunity my son and I now have a better relationship than ever before.
2. About three months ago my company hired a new sales manager. My first reaction was basically indifference because I thought I was doing just fine. After just a little while it became very apparent that he was brought in to help me and a couple of other relatively new salespeople get things moving. So we starting going out together to call on my existing customers and to visit a whole bunch of places that I wanted to bring on as clients. After just a little while it became very apparent that he was brought in to help me and a couple of other relatively new salespeople get things moving. So we starting going out together to call on my existing customers and to visit a whole bunch of places that I wanted to bring on as clients.
It became pretty obvious that the size and caliber of the people I was calling on were at best mediocre in his opinion which didn’t go over very well with me. I started pushing back and being unavailable when he wanted to go out and being less and less enthusiastic about what was occurring. Just when I had had about enough, by sheer luck I came across a potential customer that would be larger than every customer I have and every potential customer combined! I knew I was over my head and called him in and it was during these conversations and negotiations that I realized what an idiot I was being!
My new boss is absolutely amazing! The guy can pretty accurately size up a potential customer with just a couple of questions (I have tested him on this several times!), he either knows the answer or has a resource who knows the answer to just about every question he is asked.
During our meetings with this huge potential customer is when I realized that life had thrown me another challenge and up to that point I had been pushing it away. I changed my attitude and my behavior and now go to him more and more and am realizing a HUGE difference in my results because of it.
3. One of the first customers I opened up is a pretty good size pizza place and it has been a headache just about since day one! The owner is pretty much a sourpuss and complains about everything. I actually lost him as a customer for about a month because one week he received two cases of paper plates instead of his usual one. It took me a month of me going to see him every week before I could get him to let me explain that he called me with an order AND he called into my office with an order which was why he received two of the plates.
Since day one of our relationship he has been unhappy with us delivering his product on Thursdays, so about two weeks ago when I was in having lunch he was complaining about the Thursday delivery again and instead of just listening to him rant (as I usually did) I started thinking about how this challenge could be an opportunity. A solution popped into my mind to switch his delivery day to Monday which means he wouldn’t have to put the order together until Friday. This means that he can order much more accurately because of how he runs his business.
Because of my “opportunity thinking” I was able to actually make him smile for the first time since I’ve known him and he has given me all of his business instead of just half of it. That means an extra $300-$500 a week in sales for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect and there are still times when I grumble and complain about challenges but more and more I am seeing them as gifts and working on them accordingly.
Give it a try in your life and see if you don’t agree!
Until Next Time…