It’s all in the head
A few weeks ago, I find myself in a meeting room near Waterloo train station. I am sat with Jacki talking to a very successful Australian entrepreneur called Daniel Priestley. Daniel, for those that are not aware, is a well-known author of books such as KPI (Key Person of Influence), The Entrepreneur’s Revolution and his recent bestseller Oversubscribed (in my opinion all good reads).
At this meeting we are discussing key ideas and concepts to help entrepreneurs succeed in business.
Now I have had many a discussion of this type and at some point during the debate the subject of the importance of balance between internal vs. external, leading to success will always emerge.
What I mean by internal vs. external is what goes on in our head (internal) such as how we perceive ourselves, our confidence and our attitude; against a whole manner of external leanings such as PPC, marketing, sales techniques, knowing our numbers etc.
From my early days of running businesses I was 100% in the camp of ‘it’s what’s inside our head’ that makes the difference between success and failure. I even renamed the word failure to leanings so it didn’t play with my head!
From 1991 I surrounded myself with luminaries such as Anthony Robbins, Steven Covey, Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn to mention a few to make sure my head was in the correct place maximizing the chance of success. I am sure a lot of you are nodding now in agreement.
However, as I started to develop my businesses acumen and also experiences (another word for my mistakes), my view started to sway more towards the external things, such as tried and tested business systems like six sigma or business process reengineering.
The reason for this shift of view in the main was I had joined a group with other CEOs and after the usual ego crap was pulled apart we all discovered that at various times in our careers (more than most people will admit) we did not have that crystal clear clarity, or our self-esteem was a bit low or even our belief in our latest venture/product launch was a bit wobbly to say the least. Knowing this and also knowing the success that this group had amongst its members got me to reflect a bit more.
Questions emerged like does Richard Branson have those self-doubt days? Well of course he must do, as he is human, well I’m pretty sure he is. So what keeps him going through this?
Anyway back to my conversation with Daniel; he is also of the opinion that this internal aspect has little or no relevance to the success of our endeavours. After a few hours of putting the business world to right we leave this meeting to continue our journey to the centre of London where we are attending an awards ceremony.
By the end of this night I would know if the award we had been finalist for – ‘Business Mentor of the Year’ – would be bestowed upon us or someone else.
I also wondered what the impact would be on our business if we were anointed as such.
As I was deep in this thought I was reminded of a story I read a while ago….
“A once-successful business owner found himself deep in debt and could see no way out. The creditors were closing in on him and his key suppliers were demanding payment or they were going to cut him off, which would shutter his business.
Desperate and distraught, he found himself sitting on a park bench fretting about his situation trying to think of what to do to save his company from its impending bankruptcy.
Just then an old man walked up and sat down next to him. The old man said: “I can see something is troubling you son. What is it?” After listening to the business owner’s woes, the old man said, “I believe I can help you.”
He asked the man his name, wrote out a cheque and pushed it into his hand saying: “Take this money. Meet me here exactly one year from today and you can pay me back at that time.” Then he turned and disappeared as quickly as he had come.
The business owner looked down to see the cheque in his hand was for $500,000, signed by John D. Rockefeller, one of the richest men in the world. The business owner thought, “All my money worries have been erased in an instant!”
Nevertheless, the business owner decided to put the money in his safe first, before going to immediately cash it. Just knowing it was there as backup gave him strength to work out a way to save his business.
With renewed optimism he negotiated better deals, got extended terms of payment and pushed through on a few big sales. Within a few months he was out of debt and making money once again.
Exactly one year later he returned to the park with that un-cashed cheque. The old man did not appear for some time, yet the business executive decided to wait for a while longer. Eventually the old man came along but seemed unmindful of the business owner.
He stopped the old man and was about to hand over the cheque with enthusiastic words of gratitude when he saw a nurse come running up to grab the old man. She said: “I’m so glad I caught him. I hope he hasn’t been bothering you. He’s always escaping from the rest home and telling everyone he’s Rockefeller.” And she led the old man away by the arm.
The astonished business owner just stood there, stunned. All yearlong he’d been wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, convinced he had half-million dollars behind him. Suddenly he realised that it wasn’t the money – real or imagined – that had turned his life around. It was his newfound self-confidence that gave him the power to achieve anything he went after.”
Now as it happens we did win the award that night and the phone and email has since been in overdrive with potentials wanting to have ‘a chat’ with a view to becoming one of our clients.
So what changed on that night? Nothing on our side. We continued as usual from that day, however in the minds of our avatar we were a different prospect now. All this was really about the system of award winning (external) and the internal stuff was actually going on in our prospects heads not ours.
So maybe this old debate I have had for over 20 plus years about internal and external has finally been solved and the answer is that the tools and business systems we learn (the external) employed correctly and consistently will provide our prospects with the confidence (internal) they need to engage us.
So yes it is all in the head – our prospects not ours.