⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️
The book Atomic Habits has sold over 10M copies. It’s not a sales book, but it will have a bigger impact on your career than 90% of sales books. Today’s edition breaks down 8 key concepts from the author, James Clear, and how they can help improve the way you think about your sales career.
All visuals courtesy of Go Limitless.
Read time: <9 minutes
1 Finding Inspiration
This idea by James Clear suggests that inspiration can come from both working and waiting, but the act of working is more likely to lead to inspiration than waiting.
In other words, if you are actively engaged in proper deep work on things like taking small steps towards progressing a Diamond Account each day, you’re more likely to stumble upon new ideas or ways of thinking that can spark inspiration (”hey, here’s a clear commercial insight I can use with my VP Mobilizer to take action on our proposal”).
If you’re waiting around for inspiration to strike without actively engaging with your work, it’s less likely to come. Inspiration is not something that comes out of nowhere, but rather it is often the result of focused effort and attention. By putting in the work, you create the conditions for inspiration to emerge.
At the same time, however, it’s also important to allow yourself the time and space to let your mind wander and make unexpected connections between the things you’re working hard on. By harmonizing both active engagement and periods of recovery and reflection, you can maximize your chances of finding inspiration and creativity in your work.
Rest, including active rest is a core pillar to my PREP operating system. Some of my best ideas come from long walks and bike rides.
→ Key takeaway: Design your days around harmonizing intentional action on high value activities while allowing yourself the space for creativity with intentional rest and breaks.
2 Delivering Value
You may have looked around your org and wonder how ultra performers consistently rank at the top of the leaderboard, even with rising quotas.
Those that do it consistently (without luck and windfall accounts) view time differently. They use time to gain skills, then skills to deliver value, value to earn money, and then money to free up more time. That’s the flywheel.
Even in the services game, customers don’t care so much on the time the team takes to implement or deliver a solution, they just care about the results they were promised.
Once you tap into your unique skill stack (something only you can deliver), then you create autonomy to put your knowledge and systems to work for you. You begin to say no to more things, have the confidence to run your business as you see fit, and work begins to feel like a fun game you get to play every day.
Note: Things don’t necessarily get easier, because you’re continually leveling up the challenges you put in front of yourself, but you do acquire specific knowledge that makes the things that were once hard a lot faster to get done.
→ Key takeaway: Your measuring stick should be focused on value, not the time you spend on any given project. That’s how your company and clients will be evaluating you.
3 Long-Term Thinking
The single unit for success over the long arc of a year is a single work day.
Just like how compounding interest works in finance to help you accumulate abundant wealth over 1, 3, 5, 10+ years…the same holds true for quality habits. If you want to see where you’ll end up at the end of the year (or a decade), just put a microscope on your daily habits and routines.
Are they something you’re proud of? Would somebody you respect commend you on them?
You choose the standard to operate by. When I was an active seller, I kept my standards higher than everyone around me – my company, my manager, my teammates, even my prospects and clients. But equally important, I also (through work with coaching and a supportive community) kept my self-compassion just a tick higher.
This ensured when I was my own harshest critic, I could also be a slightly better friend. That kept me sane and running on all cylinders consistently.
→ Key takeaway: “Compound (interest) is the 8th wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it.” (Albert Einstein). The good thing is compounding doesn’t just apply to money – leverage it to amplify your good habits, skills, routines, and knowledge.
4 Finding Happiness
Speaking of high standards, as you push them up, it’s important to keep lowering your expectations. By doing so, you widen the opportunity for satisfaction.
As you progress in your career, you’ll start to be exposed to the realities of work and life, which is, everyone is still just trying to figure it all out. There is no magical unicorn, pot of gold, or utopia at the end of the rainbow.
If you ascend to a certain level or attain a certain status, you’re not provided answers to any special secrets or given any unnatural super powers…just a lot of disappointment if you were expecting something that never comes.
After I closed a $6.6M deal in Q3 of 2019, it put me at 7 figure earnings in a single year for the first time. What did I feel? To be honest, a whole lot of emptiness. I took a nap after the deal was done.
I was expecting something that never came. What exactly I was searching for, I don’t know. But I did learn I was still the same human as the day prior.
It’s why I keep repeating “Human first, Seller second” all the time. You can never escape who you are. You’re in your body and mind for life, so you need to respect that.
By the way, this concept is also applicable with your prospects and clients – get them to raise their ambitions, but lower their expectations on results.
→ Key takeaway: If you want to give yourself (and clients) the biggest chance for satisfaction, the gap between ambition and expectation should be as large as possible.
5 Goals vs Systems
Simply setting ambitious goals is not enough to achieve success in the highly competitive SaaS market.
Instead, you need to create effective systems and processes that support your targets and enable you to take consistent, deliberate actions that move you closer to them.
For instance, when I made the leap from earning $200K in 2018 to $1.5M in 2019, I made fundamental changes to my approach – I created a system.
Here’s how I did it.
My goal for that year was to earn $500K – which would’ve been the highest I’d ever earned in my career. I did all the things “you’re supposed to do,” like work backwards from the numbers, create SMART goals, and plot out the small actions I needed to take to make it a reality.
The problem with that is what’s known as Parkinson’s Law – work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. With the goal of $500K for the year, I was designing my work year to fill that goal.
I did this instead, and it worked a lot better:
- Asked for direct feedback from my manager
- Learned from him that my delivery is good with accounts that I care about and not so good with accounts I don’t have a personal connection with
- Changed my mindset from saying yes to everything, to no as my default
- Defined a theme vs a goal, which was “slow down, in order to speed up”
- Created a set of personal operating principles that supported that theme by helping me make better decisions – both big and small
- Reprioritized my account list to focus on accounts that had personal meaning to me
→ Key takeaway: Goals will expand to fill the time allotted for completion. Developing a system, or set of systems, will help you go further than you can imagine.
6 Being You
Remember “Human first, Seller second?” Yeah, the human you…that’s who people gravitate to.
It’s also the person you have to live with all the time. The seller gets to clock out. Can you look your human self in the mirror and say “I’m proud of you. I love you. This life is pretty amazing.”
If not, it’s a sign that things are out of whack.
Who are you trying to impress?
If it’s not the person in the mirror, or the people that love and respect you, then it’s time to go back to step 5 and rethink (or clearly define) your personal operating principles.
Stuff is just, well, stuff. It doesn’t define who you are or the importance you have on the world around you. President’s Club, the MVP award, the huge commission checks – they won’t matter in a few years.
What’s really important is the promise you make to yourself and those that matter.
→ Key takeaway: Focus on the things that fill up the human bucket, not the seller one. You’ll impress all the right people, including the most important person, yourself, when you do.
7 Proper Perspective
Working on your deals, especially the ones that take a bit more time, it can feel like a turbulent stock market.
There may be weeks of no meetings. There may be quarters of $0 on the board. There are countless emails, Slack messages, and requests for updates. It’s noisy (and irritating).
But just like the stock market, when you zoom out, you no longer just see red. You see the natural peaks and valleys.
What feels like tragedy today will be triumph tomorrow.
The key is to be steady. Stay focused on your system. Keep applying your quality routines and habits so that they compound. Focus on being authentically you and aligned to the bigger purpose you have in life.
Once you do, you’ll find peace and calm. Use this to guide you through the choppy waters.
→ Key takeaway: When you stay zoomed in, you’ll get stressed. Stress doesn’t accelerate deals, so you need to zoom out and keep proper perspective. Let being calm be your compass.
8 Consistency vs Perfection
I love telling this story about Jerry Seinfeld.
Folklore has it that when Jerry Seinfeld was starting out as a comedian, he used his calendar as a habit tracker to make sure he “never breaks the chain” of writing jokes every day.
James Clear used this example in Atomic Habits, and believes “don’t break the chain” is a powerful mantra. But of course, things will happen and you’ll miss a day. Skip once, ok. Skip twice, not so much.
The key is making these habits super tiny, so that you ensure the highest opportunity to succeed versus relying solely on willpower (which doesn’t work).
Here’s an easy ABC recipe to make them stick:
A – Anchor Moment (something you already do every day): After I ___________,
B – (Tiny) Behavior (something you can do in less than 30 seconds: I will ___________, then
C – Celebrate (wires in the behavior): I ___________.
Anchor: After I set my coffee down on my desk,
Behavior: I turn on my computer and open the Simple Strategic Selling System
Celebrate: Smile and say “Identifying key insights on my Diamond Accounts gives me an unfair advantage.”
→ Key takeaway: Nobody can be perfect, but you can design systems and behaviors by using the visual impact of a habit tracker and keeping habits tiny so you have the highest chance of sticking to them.
That’s a wrap – 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 next month – lock in this pricing today!).
You can book a 60 minute session with me here.
All Q1 slots are filled, but I will be selecting Q2 spots in about 2 weeks.