One of hardest parts of running a business is holding ourselves accountable for achieving our full potential. That's because when we do that, we are forced to make difficult decisions that we may not like. Or to accept that things are not as rosy as we would like them to be and that we need to redouble our efforts or change our approach. It's much easier to avoid the truth, and just continue as we are, but that's not going to help us achieve long-term success.
Here are five lies that we tell ourselves which can prevent us from achieving our full potential.
1. We had a great year.
This is one of the most frequent comments I hear when consulting with companies or pitching to consulting services to them.
It sounds so definitive. But it always goes a little bit quiet when I ask, "What made this a good year? Did you meet your stretch goals, did you outperform the competition?"
If you're not setting the right goals and measuring your performance against them, then how can you know that you had a good year? The simple answer is you can't! Which makes you a prime candidate for being a "happy underachiever." Someone who thinks everything is going well but in reality, it isn't.
Many people are happily deluding themselves, but to improve and hit our full potential we need to set meaningful goals and compare our performance to those goals and and our competition.
I worked for a company exactly like that. We set a goal of 10 percent net profit. We hit it every year, and then gave ourselves a big pat on the back. But the average profit for our sector was 14 percent. If we compared ourselves to that, then our performance would feel completely different.
2. I don't have the time right now.
We have the same amount of time as everyone else. Including those people who do the very things that we don't feel we don't have the time for. What's different is our priorities. We make other tasks more important.
To achieve our full potential we need to examine where we spend our time and put a value on the outcomes that are achieved.
Any time working on things that add little to no value should be stopped and eliminated, or at least de-prioritised. When you take that approach, you will be amazed at how much time that you do have available, that is spent on thing things that achieve very little.
3. I can't sell.
Selling is a skill that some people are better at it than others but it's just a belief we have that we cannot sell, and beliefs are not the same as the truth. If you look at the statistics for sales (source National Sales Executive Association)
- 90 percent of people stop before the fourth sales call.
- 80 percent of sales are made after the fifth sales call.
Based on those statistics, it's not your sales technique that is at fault; it's your lack of persistence. You're quitting before you get to the point at which you could make a sale. Nobody likes rejection, and sales are not easy, but we need to understand the difference between a lack of skills and a lack of persistence, as one of these is much easier to fix.
4. It's a tough market and; everyone else is struggling too.
Just like I can't sell, telling yourself and accepting that it's a tough market is quitting. Many a great fortune is made in difficult markets. It's how we operate in times like these that determine ultimately how well our companies will do.
Everyone can make hay when the sun is shining, but it is how we fare when things are tough that truly defines us. We need to be creative and innovative, looking to make improvement in both revenue and costs. This might not be enough to put us ahead of the competition, but it will make us leaner and more competitive as we come out of the tough times. We need to be constantly looking to push the envelope because to stand still is to go backward, and not all our competiton will be standing still.
Related: How I Got Into Sales
5. The customer is always right.
Not only is the customer not always right, sometimes they are not the right customers for our businesses. The challenge is that it's not easy to walk away from the revenue, even when we have a low-profit/high maintenance customer.
But we need to look at all of our customers and identify how they are performing in terms profit and maintenance. We should be looking to gradually replace customers who are are high maintenance but low profit. These types of customer are a drain on our resources, and reduce our ability to best serve our highly profitable customers.
When we can recognize these as the lies that they, it allows us to become accountable and take ownership. This will then empower us to take necessary corrective action and improve the situation which will help us on our way to achieving long-term success and reaching our full potential.