⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️
It’s the fourth week of January, and things are starting to ramp up. Let’s zoom out a bit before we zoom in by analyzing and implementing these 6 key principles from Stoicism. Use them as a system to ensure you stay calm and focus on what’s truly important this year.
Read time: <5 minutes
“Stoic philosophy is a no-nonsense system designed to produce dramatic real-world effects. Think of it as an ideal operating system for thriving in high-stress environments.” -Tim Ferriss
If you’ve been tuning in here for a while, you’ve probably picked up on my interest in Buddhism and Stoicism and the immense influence both have had on my life and career.
Today, I’d like to focus on sharing 6 key Stoic principles that I try to embody every day.
In case you’re not in the know, Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that emphasizes the development of self-control and resilience in the face of adversity.
It teaches that by understanding the nature of the universe and our place in it, we can learn to detach ourselves from our emotions and desires (like obsessing about that lost deal), and instead focus on living a virtuous and rational life.
The Stoics believed that this approach would lead to inner peace and freedom from the suffering caused by our attempts to control the uncontrollable.
Today, Stoicism is popular as it offers practical guidance for how to deal with stress and uncertainty, as well as provides an ethical framework for leading a good life.
It can be useful for those of us in performance-based fields, like strategic SaaS sales, as it helps to maintain a clear and rational mindset in the face of challenges, and to approach work with a sense of purpose and integrity.
Here are 6 key Stoic principles that can elevate your work and life (with some help of using cool visuals from my friends @6posters).
1. Focus on what you can control
“Sh*t! Did I really just do that?”
That’s what I was thinking after I hit send on an email I thought would kill a $3.6M deal I had been working on for over a year.
I share this story from time to time, as it’s a reminder to others (and me) that all we can do is focus on what’s in our control in every situation.
Rather than hiding from Stacy, I owned up to the mistake of labeling her a detractor, and we ended up forging a stronger relationship because of it. The deal was not lost, in fact we got an additional $500K out of it.
The best thing you can center yourself on is understanding what’s in your control, and spending your time + energy + attention on that.
Spinning your wheels on wishful thinking with prospects, getting angry at negative feedback from your manager, or worrying about why someone you don’t respect is on top of the leaderboard leads to frustration, not progress.
Keep moving forward on things you can act on.
2. “Is this essential?”
– “Do I need to be in this meeting?”
– “Should I be wasting my energy on this quote?”
– “What’s essential for me to know before this discovery call?”
Himanshu, a strategic seller in the Customer Data Platform space, who I work with has done an amazing job at using his calendar every week to eliminate all of the non-essentials (including most internal-facing meetings), and he’s made a game out of it, ensuring all of the “essentials” get turned to dark green (his indicator it’s been completed).
I’m excited to have Himanshu on a future Make More Hustle Less Club session where he will break down his awesome calendar system.
3. Value time more than money and possessions
In 2021, I grossed $1.07M in W2 income.
Last year, I ended the year at $342,224…but, I ended up working a total of 33 days (264 hours) less than the previous year.
That was intentional, and I was ok making less (yes, even after taxes) because I wanted to free up my calendar this year. I could have easily jumped into consulting or coaching and grossed over $1M for the year, but I didn’t want or need to do so.
I jumped off the “trade time for dollars” hamster wheel, and I’m on a path to doing more while doing less by design.
It could have been a different story though…
Back in 2019 when I was earning 6 figure commission checks every quarter, I almost pulled the trigger on a Porsche 911 and a 4,000 square foot luxury condo in a brand new designer building that would have set us back $3.25M.
I’ve seen a lot of sellers, and let me try to say this kindly, who are a bit “past their expiration date” and miserable because they’re stuck wearing the golden handcuffs.
They prized the expensive lifestyle, and jumped into it a bit too quickly, and before they knew it, the big home, the private schools, the expensive zip code, and driving the kids to soccer practice in the Porsche Cayenne became “required” to keep up with the Joneses down the street.
A great principle to get comfortable with is living (well) on your base and investing everything else. Your future self will thank you!
4. The obstacle is the way
“The CTO said it’s not going to happen.”
I had been working nearly 18 months to get the largest healthcare brand in the world over the line, and the CTO was trying to squash it because they had already spent 9 figures implementing another vendor’s software just 24 months ago.
This principle was ever present throughout my sales career, as I’m sure it has been for you too.
It encourages inverse thinking, something great to use for yourself when faced with an obstacle.
“To act with “a reverse clause,” so there is always a way out or another route to get to where you need to go. So that setbacks or problems are always expected and never permanent. Making certain that what impedes us can empower us.” -Ryan Holiday
It’s also effective to encourage it with your prospects and clients using design sessions.
With the major healthcare account, we did just that.
We knew from the business leaders that not having functioning contact center software was burning millions of dollars, but IT did not want to go through another migration, something they argued would be more timely and expensive.
Long story short, we created mini “hackathons” where we had an ally with one eager business unit. We invited regional IT staff to participate alongside business folks and contact center agents to have mini build sessions with our software. We challenged them with creating bots and backend integrations…and ones that were highly aspirational.
After some brief training, they discovered what generally took weeks became days, and what took days, became hours. The business unit’s CIO was impressed enough to green light it and get the CTO to approve moving forward with a 2 year, 7 figure deal.
When challenges come up with clients, use inverse thinking internally and externally to work through alternative ways forward.
5. Two ears, one mouth for a reason
“The less you speak, the more you will hear.” -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
We know strategic selling is an impact game, and that comes from effective listening and connecting. Like many though, I suffered throughout my career of “listening” so I could respond, rather than listen to fully understand.
A recent survey by Rain Group found that 68% of buyers are highly influenced by sellers who listen well, but buyers report that only 26% of sellers are effective listeners.
Here are some simple tips to talk less, and listen more:
– Take a deliberate pause before you speak
– Repeat back what you heard and confirm it
“The more you know, the less you speak.” -Imam Ali
6. Live as if you’ve died and come back (every minute is bonus time)
Knowing that death is inevitable (and not fearing it) is one thing, but it’s another to treat each moment as if you’ve already died.
I’ve never experienced the “I was dead for a few minutes and they revived me” situation, but I did land in the hospital once with a stroke.
Luckily there were no major issues following that ordeal, but it did give me a different appreciation for the things I normally took for granted.
Imagine taking this sentiment into every meeting or opportunity you have with others. How would you change your tone? Would you get frustrated? Would you have a self-centered agenda? What would you say differently and how would you say it?
These are not just philosophical questions to ponder, they are practical questions to keep ourselves in check and focused on having more meaningful relationships with every one we encounter.
With this approach, it’s hard not to find true connection, be curious about learning more, better understand their perspective, and be more generous with your help.
→ BTW, The Daily Stoic is a must-have. I have been reading a daily passage from it for 3 years running.
See you next time!
When you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
This combines the 7 Steps to 7 Figures system along with a lifetime membership to our Make More Hustle Less Club where we put the system in action as a community (big changes coming and prices will increase soon!).
You can book a 60 minute session with me here (however you save more if you do option 1 and bundle in a strategy call)
All Q1 slots are filled, but I will be selecting Q2 spots in about 5 weeks.