Nashville-based Southwestern Consulting is a sales coaching, speaking and consulting firm that operates throughout the U.S. and Canada and in Eastern Europe. One of its senior partners is Kitty Barrow, an executive sales and leadership coach and one who has been instrumental in expanding the company’s coaching business.
While much of what Southwestern produces focuses on the sales end of the business world, they offer much wisdom to be gleaned, even if you’re operating a two-person sign shop in the middle of Mojave Desert. Business is business, and these guys know their business.
“Once, my mother picked my husband and me up from the airport. On the way home, I noticed that she was constantly making small, jerky turns to the steering wheel. I asked if she was looking down the road as far as she could. My mother said yes and asked me why. I told her that she was driving like someone who was looking over the hood of their car to the street directly in front of them. She must have started looking down the road as far as she could see because the small, jerky turns ceased immediately. Really cool, huh?
The next day, one of my coaching clients asked me if it was really that important for her to plan the month and the week out ahead of time. Couldn’t she just plan out each day the night before it happened? Her question reminded me of my mother’s driving story.
As Tony Schwartz pointed out on his blog, “… between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work.”
Why is this? Because most people are constantly making constant small, jerky turns to their work steering wheel as they react to life around them! It’s exhausting! It’s mentally frustrating and we don’t even realize it!
Most people tell me that in their typical day, they arrive at work with a plan. By 3 or 4 p.m., they are wondering, “What happened to the day?” They just sweep those income producing activities under the table by promising themselves, ‘I’ll just make those calls tomorrow.’ Of course, this isn’t the first day they have made this empty promise.
Top Producer vs. Average Salesperson
More often than not, the difference is often as subtle as their time management skills and their attitude. It’s not magic fairy dust after all!
One thing that I have witnessed when coaching clients is the incredible amount of work they are able to achieve when they begin planning out their month and their weeks before they happen. When this happens, it’s unbelievable the reports we receive about how they can’t wait to get to work and they are more energized than ever! (Don’t roll your eyes here. It really does happen!)
Burned out or energized? Your choice. Here are a couple of steps to help you start looking down your career road as far as you can see and not just one foot in front of you at a time. It’s time to stop those constant jerky turns to your day and begin to live.
Make a list of everything you feel you need to do in order to do your job well. (And I mean everything. Really brainstorm here.)
After you have made the complete list, then divide it into things that only take your personality. Not all the things you are a control freak about take only your personality to perform. Until you get over this, you might as well sit at your desk with a lid held over your head. Not being able to learn the skill of delegation will forever keep you down.
Take the list of things that someone else can do and train someone on how to do them.
Please do not tell me that you can’t afford an assistant.
Take the list that only you can do and divide it by:
A = Income producing activities
B = Items that contribute significantly to producing income
C = Other needed items, but not as important as A and B items
What you will find left over are the things that really aren’t important for anyone to do. You are probably just in the habit of doing them. You should seriously consider dropping these activities altogether because they are not proving to truly contribute to your bottom line.”
—Kitty Barrow is a senior partner of Southwestern Consulting, a sales coaching, speaking and consulting firm based in Nashville, Tennessee.