If you’re anything like me, you’ve seen this a million times.
Someone promising the reveal the foolproof system to make millions overnight. Or promises to supercharge your sales. Or show you the secret method to generate more leads than you know what to do with. Or teach the one trick to being successful without trying, etc.
How have any of those ever worked out for you?
Something like this, I bet.
You are excited and hopeful with each new idea you learn about. You think, “This is the one that will finally work.”
You give it a try for a few days. Maybe you stick it out for a few weeks.
Nothing. Instead of a flood of new customers, you have a tiny trickle. Maybe.
You decide it doesn’t work and give up. Now you’re even more disappointed and frustrated than you were before you tried.
Does that sound about right?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying everyone who markets their “guaranteed system” to do anything is a con. Many of these sources are sharing good information and providing useful examples to follow.
This is where people go wrong.
They make the mistake of thinking that the system is what is going to deliver success.
That’s only half right. The secret ingredient to making any system work is this.
Show up and do the work. Consistently.
You could have a magical machine on your desk that spits out a $5 bill for every $1 bill you put in. If you don’t show up every day and do the tedious work of sticking $1 bills into it? No 500% return for you.
I get it. The result is sexy and glamorous. The result excites you.
The grunt work you need to do to get there? Not so much.
Facing the idea that you aren’t doing the things you need to do isn’t fun. But it is necessary to be honest with yourself. Without that, you will never change anything.
The reason we often fail to do the work is deeply embedded in our psyche. Simply put, we prefer avoiding current discomfort over getting a future benefit.
We can (and often do) consciously decide to do disagreeable work in the short term because we know the long term result will be desirable. Every diet and exercise plan ever are great examples of this. Then, in the moment, our lizard brain takes over and chooses not to do the disagreeable thing in front of us.
This usually shows up in form of procrastination.
It’s why so many people have difficulty achieving their goals – whatever they are.
So, what can you do about it?
Also, doing things like scheduling tasks on your calendar can help. Assuming, of course, that you stick to doing them at the appointed time!
Creating an environment where doing the work you need to do is the easiest or only option can work, too. Browser plug-ins that block access to websites (or the entire Internet) can be helpful here.
These are all good things to try. I use most of them myself when I need a little extra push. But they are treating the symptoms, not the cause. As such, they will only deliver temporary relief.
To really fix the problem, you need to change your mindset.
To do that, use your brain’s tendency to want instant gratification to your advantage. Change the goal from that distant result to doing the work.
Stop focusing your attention on the level of sales you want to have in six months. That is way off in the future, so you can always start working on it tomorrow. Or tomorrow. Or tomorrow. Before you know it, six months have gone by and you’ve done nothing.
Find a way to make the process something you want to do for its own sake. When you get happiness from the process, you will want to do it regardless of the long-term outcome.
For example, if you start running everyday because you want to lose weight and get in shape, you won’t stick to it. The distant goal of being thinner and healthier is no match for avoiding the burning lungs and sore legs today.
If you start running because you love the sights along your trail or you crave the way it helps you clear your head, you will do it every day. A few months later, you’re thinner and healthier. Magic.
Show up. Do the work. Repeat.
And find your joy in the work, not the result.
You can’t control the result anyway. You can only control what you do. So, doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the only part you can control?
I’m not saying you should just keep doing something that isn’t working over and over again. You should always be tweaking the process and measuring the results. I talked about a process for continuous incremental improvement recently.
Skeptical that this will really work?
I (like most small business owners) had been avoiding the lead generation and sales work I knew I needed to do. To no one’s surprise, my sales pipeline looked like a pipeline that no one was paying attention to.
Then I decided to dedicate myself to doing the work. I got serious about prospecting. And meeting people. And following up.
Just weeks after starting to show up and do the work, I had a calendar full of sales meetings and was well on my way to closing multiple new clients.
My goals didn’t change. My dedication to doing the work did.
Show up. Do the work. Repeat.