I’ve had the pleasure of being on a counselling course for the past three months where we’re being taught how to counsel callers that are in potentially life threatening situations. It’s a tough ask, you could have someone literally about to blow their brains out and need to somehow be talked off that literal or metaphorical ledge. You would be correct in saying that this is a fairly pressurised situation. I’m not going to talk about counselling per say but more about the two important business lessons I’ve managed to get out of this process.
1) Don’t let the pressure get to you
The first reaction to the pressure of knowing that people’s lives potentially depend on you is that of mind-numbing fear. It’s pretty damn scary to think that if I don’t succeed someone could be stuck in a bad situation or even worse, they could end their life. In a way business is both better and worse: as an entrepreneur you’re so focussed on success at all costs that you think failure is the equivalent to death. Realistically if you fail the worst you have to lose is your reputation and money, two things you are able to get back with relative ease. On the flip side you’re giving up a lot both in terms of finances and relationships.
This brings me to my point: the pressure of entrepreneurship, customers, staff, cash-flow and more, can get to you. It can cripple and debilitate you more than you actually know. Don’t ever take your eye off the ball but don’t let the chance of failure scare you into inaction. You may feel like failure is the same as death but as someone who has failed more than enough times I’ll tell you that’s completely untrue.
2) Just let go
The hardest part is starting. You need to quit your cushy job, start approaching customers, writing proposals and managing your bank account. I was in a mock counselling session the other day getting incredibly frustrated. A fellow counsellor reminded me of a great scene from “Finding Nemo” where the whimsical Dory tells Nemo’s neurotic dad Marlin that it’s “time to let go” in order to get out of a tricky situation (you can watch the scene here). The moral is simple: stop the worry. You’re better than you even know and worrying about your ability is only holding you back Counselling is similar to the entrepreneurial selling process: no one is going to care about or listen to a salesperson that comes across as unsure, not informed and lacking in confidence.
Here’s what it comes down to: believe in yourself, it’s an issue of confidence that will make the difference to your success. My sales hero is fictional TV character Don Draper from Mad Men. Everytime he delivers a pitch to a customer it’s with unwavering confidence and even if his idea isn’t spot on, his customers respect him.
Chances are you’re too busy worrying about making the perfect slide deck or proposal that you never actually get started. Stop it, you’re not doing yourself any favours. In the same way if someone phones for a counselling session they need your help; no client really wants to see you if they’re not at least slightly interested in product or service. Marketers are spoilt for choice: they’re not going to see you if they could be spending time going to lunches paid for by suppliers.
Spoiler alert: entrepreneurship can really suck at times. You won’t get paid on time, your clients will be painful and your staff can be a nightmare but you know what: it’s the best way you can live your life. One day when you’re sitting at your kids soccer/ballet/play without having to take time off you’ll realise why the sacrifice was all about.