In one of the gyms I used to go to, there was a sign prominently displayed in the weight room that read, “Go heavy or go home.”
In another context, I frequently heard the saying, “Play to win or don’t bother playing.”
Each of these sayings has their place. If you are a naturally competitive person, then both of these probably strike you as being obvious. You likely feel wholehearted agreement.
One problem with these concepts is that in the wrong circumstances, they can induce substantial unnecessary amounts of stress.
Another issue is they might cause you to give up early. Maybe you look ahead toward the finish line, realize there is no way for you to win this particular race, and therefore stop trying. Give up on this one, move on to the next race, maybe you’ll have better luck there.
These sayings do not fully incorporate the level of influence factors beyond our effort have on the outcome. I’m not talking about making excuses when things don’t go our way. I am talking about accepting the reality that there’s often more involved in the decisions others make than simply the amount of effort that we put into trying to sway them one way or another.
I recently spoke to a group of recruiters for an organization. Their key metric is the number of people they are able to get to sign on the dotted line. The majority of their training is based on classic sales methodology, with “getting to the close” being a key component.
The problem is that they were becoming overly obsessed with that metric of closing the deal. Each person they were recruiting was seen as critical to their success in their job as recruiter. When they were unable to seal the deal with a particular individual, they viewed it as failure. They took it personally. It was creating an enormous amount of stress on the individuals.
I can relate.
I have this same experience in my own business. I tend to view each prospective client as critical to the success of my business. When a prospective client tells me, “we’ve decided to go a different direction” (a frequently used phrase instead of simply saying, “no”) it is easy to take this personally. Being a one-person service-oriented business, the product I am selling is, essentially, myself. As a result, failure to close the sale takes on a high degree of personal rejection.
Do you enjoy rejection? I sure don’t.
The attitude shift that has helped me the most, and that I shared with this group of recruiters, is the concept of Involved Detachment.
What does that mean?
It means going heavy and playing to win… while detaching yourself from the outcome.
It means giving it your absolute best shot, doing all you can to convey your value proposition. And then once you’ve done that, let it go. You’ve done your part, now it is up to them.
This is still very much a work in progress for me. There are good days, and there are not so good days.
It is easy to view an opportunity as being impossible to win. As the level of the events at which I work has elevated, so has the level of the people I am being compared against for the time slot. While it is pretty cool to be considered alongside some of these people, it can also be intimidating. I view many of them with such high esteem that it seems pointless to even bother submitting my proposal.
But, just as there are factors beyond my influence for which another person might be chosen, there are also factors beyond my control which cause a client to select me over the others being considered.
Got that? It is not my job to tell them “no”. There is a reason that they chose to contact me in the first place, to include me in their search.
My job is simply to understand as much as possible about the client’s goals, put forth what I have to offer as clearly as possible, do it well, and then let it go.
Where can you apply this concept in your life and work? In what areas are you being overly concerned with the outcome? Are you quitting before you even start?
Practice involved detachment.
Do your part. Do it well. Then let it go.