Taking control of your mind – post 2 of 2

In this second and last post of the series, I will explain another way that we can use the conscious mind to retrain the other-than-conscious mind; again something I use myself and introduce to my clients. As with the REACT framework™ it is surprisingly simple; I have known clients who ‘got it’ very quickly, applied it diligently and achieved powerful results quickly. On the other hand, I know some clients have struggled, taking weeks and even months to adopt the practice assiduously in order to get the same potent outcomes.

REACT_Calm

I once worked with a client who I can best describe as a ‘force of nature’; intense, determined and forceful. Along with these came what I experienced during our first few sessions as an almost constant torrent of negativity, pessimism and, at times, despair. I will not breach client confidentially about the source and nature of what had driven some deeply held beliefs into the client’s other-than-conscious mind, but suffice to say the timing was in childhood. The client seemed to me to naturally experience any situation in a somewhat negative way, identifying problems and obstacles over possibilities and benefits, relating more to pain and worry over joy and harmony.

After considerable persistence on my part (and resistance on hers), I finally managed to persuade her to close her every day by writing down in a journal three positive things from the day. A very simple concept that took her much effort to implement as it seemed so strange and unnatural to her to recognise positives over negatives. In the end, I think I wore her down and she completed daily night-time homework diligently each evening as she went to bed. Once a week, she identified the three best things in her journal. At the end of the month she identified the three most outstanding entries from that month. I detected changes in her behaviour with the negativity gradually decreasing and then a gradual move to equanimity in her demeanour. Towards the end of the second month, she commented spontaneously that she felt she was a lot happier in herself, explaining that a problem at work the day before, which would previously have thrown her into a tail-spin, had seemed to her to be actually rather funny.

I urge you to try out this second method of training the other-than-conscious mind; I know from my clients you have little to lose and much to gain. Find whatever way, mechanism or device works for you and makes it easy for you to do this work every day. Routine is important. Doing this at the same time each day emphasises the routine nature and gets you into the discipline of the daily recording of three positives.

3 good things a day

As you do whatever works well for you, ensure the positives you identify are also expressed in positive terms: ‘I completed the new page for my website’ or ‘I got to speak to the prospect I have been trying to reach for days’ or ‘My new clients just settled my first invoice’. They don’t need to be momentous, ground-breaking or particularly significant. They could include a particularly nice meal, a chat with a friend, or a beautiful sunset. The positives don’t need to be things you have achieved they should be what you have experienced. They just need to be positives that are positively expressed. They should not be expressed as the avoidance of a negative: ‘That meeting could have gone a lot worse’ or ‘We haven’t heard about our bid, so at least we haven’t been thrown out yet’ or ‘We haven’t lost any more customers today’. Remember, this is about training the other-than-conscious mind to recognise positives.

As with the REACT framework™, this is a very simple technique that produces outstanding behavioural changes if you adopt it as a daily habit. I wish you every success; if you want more information or help applying either technique contact me at piw@wttresults.co.uk or call me on 07764 658071 or register for the REACT framework™ workshop here.

WTT Results designs and delivers transformational change, enabling businesses and individuals to be the best that they want to be. To discuss how we can help your business, please get in touch as above. www.wttresults.co.uk

Taking control of your mind – post 1 of 2

Most of the time our behaviours, our thoughts, our feelings are determined by our other-than-conscious minds. The other-than-conscious mind is hugely influenced by what was drilled into us as children, by our early experiences in life, by events we encounter up to our mid-teenage years. I endured too many years of unhappiness because my parents had drilled into me that marriage was for life – ‘til death do us part’. Another favourite homily of theirs was ‘curiosity kills the cat’; it took me months of toil and heartache to inculcate into my persona the ability to replace judgement about right and wrong with inquisitiveness about what might be – a vital component of my modus operandi these days.

So how do we recognise that it is the other-than-conscious mind that is in control, and what can we do to replace the influence of our early-life experiences with something that is more useful to us in the here and now? It’s surprisingly simple but requires a strenuous struggle to master the means and make it habitual. In essence, it is to use the conscious mind to teach the other-than-conscious new ways of thinking. Sounds straightforward – but only if we begin to use our conscious capacity more, to recognise that the sources of our actions, notions and moods are not from the very moment we are experiencing them, but from a time long ago and far away, when we were a different person.

I am a great supporter and practitioner of mindfulness. Note Claire’s Insight 1 in her blog post at the hyperlink in the line above and you will begin to understand why it was so critical for me to win my struggle with ‘curiosity kills the cat’.

mindfulness

Every day, whenever in the day I am about to start a new task, I use mindfulness as the starting point for running the REACT framework™ to ensure I am in the best state, with the right resources to achieve what I want. This involves my conscious mind taking control decisively to recognise what my current state is and to identify whether my state is appropriate. Our state is made up of a combination of any or all of our physiology, our environment, and our acuity as well as our thoughts, our emotions, and our spiritual condition. If my state is not ideal for what I want to achieve, I consciously identify what resources I think would be appropriate to the task I am about to undertake. These could be physical resources (a cool drink as I am thirsty) or they could be more nebulous, esoteric even (a feeling that I am very creative right now). I then (and this is where the other-than-conscious mind joins in) seek a time when I was really (for example) creative and relive the moment in a very meaningful way. I will repeat this for all the resources I need (for instance curiosity might be a useful addition to creativity). Having claimed my resources, I then take them with me as I undertake the task I want to achieve. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do this each time I make a sandwich of a cup of coffee – it’s reserved for the times when I need to be at my best to achieve something important and potentially challenging.

REACT_Calm

For help putting this into action, contact me at piw@wttresults.co.uk or call me on 07764 658071 or register for the REACT framework™ workshop here. In the next post, I will give you another very simple technique you can use to reclaim control of your other-than-conscious mind to achieve powerful results.

WTT Results designs and delivers transformational change, enabling businesses and individuals to be the best that they want to be. To discuss how we can help your business, please get in touch as above. www.wttresults.co.uk

Consigning all selling to the past – post 2 of 2

In the first of these two posts, building on earlier material about why selling is inappropriate in today’s society, about the new ABC of Sales, and about the death of the sales force, I argued that putting ‘Up’ or ‘Cross’ in front of ‘Sell’ doesn’t change my position one jot; and I highlighted the wrong-headed approach of the Post Office in the transformation programme they are currently implementing, focusing on a strategy heavily reliant on ‘Up Sell and Cross Sell’.

upsell_cross sell

I committed in the last post to provide a strategy that delivers a far more effective approach to growing the revenues (and thus the profits) of businesses than the traditional tools, techniques and tricks of the classic sales approach. I suggested that a little patience by you would lead to everything falling right into place. Thank you for your patience; your wait is over, here’s what you waited for.

Here’s my alternative – start with the customer. Find a way of identifying what the customer places most value on, what would be the best offering for them right now? Have no pre-formed idea of what you want to provide to them. Instead stay in a very simple question for as long as possible – ‘can I provide the best solution for this customer right now?’ There is very interesting social sciences research that shows how surprisingly effective this approach is.

The Post Office has a major, strategic challenge deriving from the demographic of its customer base and adopting my alternative strategy can better position the Post Office with newer, younger, time-poor potential customers. Other businesses can deploy it with great success. Some of my clients are already doing so; with the sweet spot of deployment being in highly bespoke person-to-person complex professional services environments. Think of businesses where the nature of the service is that it is derived from the knowledge, skill and expertise of the people within the business. Think of ‘solopreneurs’ deploying their personal capabilities to delight their clients (perhaps designers, including graphics designers; maybe HR professionals; possibly Healthcare and Well-being practitioners). Think of Professional Services firms such as law firms, accountancy practices or Insolvency Practitioners/Financial Advisers). All are operating in highly bespoke person-to-person complex professional services environments.

Can I_question

Many sales trainers teach people tools, techniques and methodologies that purport to improve sales effectiveness. Included amongst these approaches is often the application of ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ as an approach. It is far more effective to tell yourself you can successfully sell to the person in front of you than it is to have doubts about your ability to do so. I had years in this sales environment of P.M.A. and A.B.C. (Always Be Closing) and have no doubt that the attitude of this positive group is more effective than a second group that constantly has doubts and insecurities regarding their abilities.

However, the social science research indicates that there is a third group who are even more effective than those who use P.M.A. as the bed-rock of their success. This third group have been shown to be 50% more effective than the P.M.A. group who use assertive self-talk when in the sales process (‘I can do this!’) Instead the third group stay in ‘interrogative self-talk’ (‘Can I do this?) for as long as possible. I think it would be far more effective for the Post Office, along with other service organisations, to train people how to use this interrogative approach when interacting with customers and potential customers. The resultant jointly-crafted solution is far more attractive, and valuable, to those whose needs have truly been listened to and honoured.

Adopting this strategy would enable them to grow their businesses without selling but with a strategy of using ‘max-serve’ to provide the best solution to their customers. If they cannot provide the best solution it is better to let the prospective customer walk on by. The ‘max-serve’ strategy recognises that only delighted customers will join the army of ardent advocates that recommend your business to others. If you merely satisfy a customer they are very unlikely to stick their head above the parapet and recommend your business to friends and loved ones. Disappoint them and they will tell many people. Delight them and they will tell those they love and trust – the people they have high standings with who are more likely to change their behaviours as a result of a recommendation from them. I will be writing more about the ‘max-serve’ strategy in the near future – once I have completed the review I am currently undertaking of extensive research.

An army of fans

In my business, I use the ALIGNED framework as a way of ensuring I deploy the ‘max-serve’ strategy in every customer interaction. I also teach others how to use the ALIGNED framework to shift the focus of their customer interactions. The ALIGNED framework, concentrating so much as it does on understanding the situation of the prospective buyer, constantly asking the question ‘can I find the perfect solution?’, and avoiding premature searches for possible solutions, greatly improves the alignment between seller and prospective buyer. By staying as long as possible in the question, using interrogative self-talk instead of assertive, the potential seller creates the opportunity to identify the resources needed to provide the perfect solution and crafts internal, intrinsic motivations over externally referenced drivers. Keeping alive the possibility that the answer that may emerge could be ‘No, I cannot provide the perfect solution’ multiplies the effect of the interrogative approach.

There is still hope for the Post Office, but only if they can revive their moribund customer base and can attract new customers to establish a squadron of sincere supporters to supplement and replace their dying customer base. It was once widely held to be a much-loved and revered British institution. I hope Chief Executive Paula Vennells acts quickly enough to move it into this century, realising last century isn’t good enough.

I hope you consider carefully the growth (or survival) strategy for your business. Which of the three groups above are you in currently? If you are not in the third group – the one that is most effective – what are you going to do? If you want to get into the third group, how will you do it? A goal without a plan is just a dream. Don’t just dream, do.

all-you-need-to-succeed

 

 

 

Consigning all selling to the past – post 1 of 2

Those of you who have read my newsletters this year will have noticed I have written about why selling is inappropriate in today’s society, and about the new ABC of Sales. If you follow my blog posts you may also have seen me writing about the death of the sales force. Putting ‘Up’ or ‘Cross’ in front of ‘Sell’ doesn’t change my argument one jot; and I decided to highlight the wrong-headed approach of the Post Office in the transformation programme they are currently implementing, focusing on a strategy heavily reliant on ‘Up Sell and Cross Sell’.

Post Office

I think there is a far better strategy, not only for the Post Office, but for all organisations aiming to survive, even thrive, nowadays. The articles that can be reached from the hyperlinks above advance the case that selling is inappropriate nowadays. Recent social science research has identified that there is a far better approach to growing the revenues (and thus the profits) of businesses than the traditional tools, techniques and tricks of the classic sales approach. The aim of the ‘Up Sell and Cross Sell’ strategy is to capture a bigger share of the spend of the customers, to leverage the relationship between buyer and seller such that the seller takes a larger slice of the buyer’s spend. On the face of it, it makes sense that a company that has invested in acquiring a customer reaps the relatively easier additional revenue and profit streams. After all, it typically costs somewhere between five and ten times more to acquire a new customer than it takes to sell to an existing one. The problem with the ‘Up Sell and Cross Sell’ strategy of any business, whether or not it is a British institution, is that it doesn’t really address the issue of acquiring new customers.

I am all for building deep and meaningful relationships with customers. Businesses, especially those involved in providing services, which successfully deploy a strategy of attracting and retaining an army of ardent advocates are on the right track. However the way to foster such fervent fans is not through up-selling and cross-selling – far better to focus on finding ways to ‘max-serve’ customers. In their transformation programme, Post Office staff are being trained to routinely offer additional products and services from the portfolio that they were taught about in an extensive training programme. Staff are being helped to understand where the most profitable products are in their portfolio and to then find ways of offering them to those who stray into their bazaars. Many companies have employed this strategy for years. I too was trained to Up Sell and Cross Sell; it was one of the sales mantras in the nineties and noughties in the ICT companies I was then working for. Times have moved on, even if the venerable British institution is still trying to drag itself into the nineteen nineties, so new strategies are needed.

In the second and final post on this subject, I will outline my alternative solution to the Up Sell and Cross sell strategy being pursued by the Post Office and many others including law firms, accountancy practices, and many technology companies, to name but a few. As I wrote above, social science research has identified that there is a far better approach to growing the revenues (and thus the profits) of businesses than the traditional tools, techniques and tricks of the classic sales approach. I won’t keep you waiting long; the second instalment will be posted next week.

in time things will fall into place_patience

 

Be the best you want to be – blog post 2/5

In this second blog post in the series on the REACT framework™ we reach the letter ‘E’.

 

R

 

Recognise

E Evaluate
A Appropriate
C Claim
T Take
 

E is for Evaluate your state. Is your state appropriate for what you want to do, how you want to feel, how you want to be with the world? If you are feeling a little blue, is that helping you right now? Are you excited, buoyant and focused?

If your breathing is rapid and shallow, does that fit with what you want to do? If you want to really exercise, it may be appropriate. If you want to deeply consider something complex, important and long-term in nature, perhaps controlling your breathing and taking long, deep, slow breaths would be more useful.

Your state can be affected by your environment; what is your environment like at the moment and what impact is it having on you right now? Continuing with the theme of deep consideration, are you somewhere calm and tranquil, or are you in a noisy, bustling, crowded area with many visual and auditory distractions?

evaluateWe don’t always appreciate where our state originated. It may be it is not even our natural state, but one that has been conditioned into us. To this day, I have ‘white-coat’ syndrome whenever someone suggests taking my blood pressure. I know where it comes from – my father’s family had a strong (and correct) concern that having their blood pressure taken could reveal an increased possibility of experiencing a heart attack. I know it isn’t my state, and if I don’t react to that state, I can feel my heart rate increasing. Years ago, I would not be conscious of my state of anxiety at the time of annual medicals, would not recognise that it wasn’t even my state and that my resultant actions followed my state. There was a period when my company doctor had concerns that my blood pressure readings were consistently higher than he liked. Once I learned to recognise my state, and to react accordingly my doctor’s concerns lessened as my readings fell. (I would love to tell you they fell and stayed low, but if you recall, earlier in this paragraph I told you I still struggle with the condition even now.)

doctor_white coatIn the Evaluate stage, all you want to do is to understand whether or not your state is appropriate. If it is, is there anything you can change that would amplify the effect, would give you an even more appropriate state? Perhaps some quiet and soothing music would help. Switching off that ‘phone or computer so you know you won’t be interrupted? Some little treat that would make you feel even better? (Chocoholics know what I mean!)

Stay calm as you evaluate your state; it is what it currently is. The talent lies in recognising whether or not your current state is the right state for you to be in to be the best you want to be.

In the next blog post, we will move towards creating the right state that will enable you to be the best you want to be. If you want to really understand the REACT framework™, and want to perfect your use of it to be the best you want to be click here http://bit.ly/REACTworkshop

A process for creativity – blog post 2 of 3

get creativeThis is the second of three blog posts on the CREATE process which has been developed to optimise the creativity of both individuals and teams. I use it when I am working alone and want to maximise my creative capacity. I also use it when working with teams of people or with individual clients. Let me again explain the acronym:

C Cosmos
R Roster
E Enhance
A Assurance
T The Funny Side
E Emancipated

The last post reviewed C and R, let’s move to E and A.

E is for Enhance. So often our creativity is limited by our discomfort at not having the solution to a problem, by our desire to make a choice or to take a decision. This part of the process is about patience, belief in the process of creativity and giving time, more time, and even more time, if necessary, to enhance the emerging ideas.

more timeIt is about giving ideas the time to flourish and the opportunity to be considered without a rush to judgement. The ‘gold standard’ here is to be able to access the child-like wonder and sense of exploration where there are no limitations, no fears and no limits on how much we can dream and create. I recall hearing John Cleese speak about the creative process used by the Monty Python team, and he emphasised this need to give time, more time, and even more time to ideas that weren’t quite working; eventually the really creative (and hilarious in the case of Monty Python) idea emerges.

This ability to really enhance is a learnable skill if you create the right conditions in which to build up your practice time, whether practicing on your own or with other people in a team setting. The right conditions include the physical environment, the right state of mind and a way of being with you, and with others if applicable, that is conducive to creativity. The first two are factors you will most likely understand already; the third is less immediately obvious.

Before I explain, let’s consider the modes we adopt in our work and in our lives that are relevant to creativity. We humans operate in two different modes. The first is the closed mode, which is the one we operate in most of the time at work. In this mode we are very purposeful, with a sense that there is much to be done, and that we need to get on with it. It is a very active, perhaps even anxious, mode. In this mode creativity is very difficult, if not impossible to access. We get lots done, we are very decisive, and action is the focus of our being. Quite often it is seen as a very efficient way of operating – one that is purposeful, productive and proficient.

Contrast this with the open mode. This is the creative mode. It is often seen as the antithesis of efficiency, the enemy of progress and the domain of the feckless. It may be portrayed as ‘lying around’, ‘shooting the breeze’ or ‘daydreaming’. While this open, creative mode may be seen in this way by the action junkies who thrive in the closed mode, it is the open mode that is necessary for creativity to exist, flourish and enhance your Big Dreams. But the open mode in itself is not enough.

children-playing-with-blocksSo what more is needed to create ‘the way of being’ that is conducive to increased creativity in the open mode? Firstly, you should give yourself and others permission to be creative, to be imaginative, and even to be silly. Secondly, there should be no limits here, no restrictions brought about by conventional wisdom, and no strictures. Any statements of criticism or disapproval will snuff out the candle-flame of creativity. Finally, a feeling of fun, a dose of child-like naivety and playfulness and a good sense of humour (which will be needed when you get to T, so start now) all enable you to really enhance the ideas.

This moves us nicely into A is for Assurance. An assurance is a promise. The promise is that no idea will be regarded as irrelevant, unworthy or stupid. This promise attacks the very heart of the biggest potential block to innovation – the fear of making a mistake. It’s important to enable complete confidence that whatever evolves is okay, to create the child-like delight with the playfulness of experimentation and to remember that you cannot be spontaneous within reason. The promise helps people to really harness the innovation that lies in the art of ‘What if?’

If you’re working individually, it is a promise you must make, and keep, to and for yourself. In group working, it is helpful to have a non-judgemental environment where everyone knows they will have an equal opportunity to contribute. In the first case of individual working having a skilled coach can be very efficacious. In the latter situation it is often useful to have a skilled facilitator helping you to create, maintain and enhance the assurance that is so important to your collective success.

creativity without limitsI wish you good fortune using the CREATE framework. Have curiosity, have courage and have fun!

Close your eyes and tell me what you see

Why closing your eyes can be so creative

Closed eyes imaginationOften when I am working with people on building their Big Dreams, I ask them to close their eyes while they are imagining the future they want to create for themselves. Most of the time they comply without thought, but every once in a while I am asked ‘why?’ which is a very sensible question to ask. In essence, what I am asking them to do is to create the bandwidth to allow them to focus on their Big Dreams, and not be distracted by anything else. Creating this bandwidth is greatly helped by turning off the visual processing of external images, which take up enormous amounts of our brain processing power.

The brain is an information processing and messaging centre, and the nervous system is a channel for the processing of information. Researchers exploring the brain expected to find that it would show a tremendous capability for processing large quantities of information. But when they studied the brain during ‘intelligent’ activities such as playing music or reading, they found a capability of around 50 bits per second. For example, a typical reading rate of 300 words per minute equates to about 5 words per second. An average of 5 characters per word, with roughly 2 bits per character gives us the rate of 50 bits per second. The actual rate will vary depending on the complexity of the language, but contrast 50 bits with the fact that our senses gather some 11 million bits per second from our environment.

reading bookWhen I talk about our brains processing some 11 million bits per second, I often encounter somewhat sceptical reactions. People cannot (consciously) take in such vastness, it seems. Our senses process the following volumes of data (in bits per second):-

Sight    10,000,000

Touch   1,000,000

Sound       100,000

Smell         100,000

Taste             1,000

It is evident that visual images represent the majority of the information traffic. Everyday vision involves an astonishing range of abilities. We see colours, identify movements and shapes, judge distance and speed, and estimate the size of distant objects. Even though images fall on the retina in two dimensions, we manage to see images in 3-D. We fill in blind spots, automatically correct distorted information, and automatically delete extraneous images that cloud our view (such as our noses, the blood vessels in our eyes).

The equipment that achieves these tasks is by far the most powerful and complex of the sensory systems. The retina, which contains 150 million light-sensitive rod and cone cells, is actually an outgrowth of the brain. In the brain itself, there are hundreds of millions of neurons devoted to visual processing, taking up about 30% of the cortex, as compared to 8% for touch and just 3% for hearing. Each of the two optic nerves, which carry signals from the retina to the brain, consists of a million fibres. In contrast, each auditory nerve carries a mere 30,000.

retina_brain2So a lot of our brain is devoted to visual processing. There is a parallel that helps to make sense of this pre-eminence of visual images. When you think about the explosion of data that is associated with storing or transmitting visual images (on hard disk drives or over the internet) think about how much your data storage needs have grown and how much of the growth is caused by images.

Closing eyes and cutting off external visual images frees a tremendous percentage of the brain and the associated processing power for other things. It creates the possibility of applying the brain to the creation of future possibilities, of dreaming with child-like wonder, and of banishing the limitations we impose on ourselves within the confines of our other-than-conscious minds.

Yes you can toddler