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Cambridge | crobinson@sandler.com
 

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Last week I was a guest speaker at our Annual Client Summit in Orlando.  I spoke on a topic that I find fascinating which has broad application for anyone in business, regardless of role; lessons from sports psychology and neuroscience that we can apply to business. 
 
Some of the key messages were:
 
Be a Sponge, not a Rock
Sponges have an attitude of wanting to learn everything they can about their sport (area of business), always looking for new tools/techniques/approaches they can use to gain slight edge.  Rocks on the other hand may be very talented but have a resistant, skeptical mindset ‘that won’t work in our world’.  People tend to drift into rockiness over time so check where you are and check where your people are.  Do you evaluate for a sponge mentality when recruiting?
 
Work out your personal vision
Top sportspeople are very clear about their personal vision. Steve Redgrave saw himself as an athlete who was the best in his sport and knowing that drove him to the top of his sport and kept him there for an incredible 17 years.  If we in business can figure out our personal vision that can act as a compass for us, helping us set goals that are meaningful, helping with decision-making and actions – which course of action gets you closer to achieving your personal vision?
 
My vision is to be the best version of me I can be every day.  That pushes me constantly to overcome some inherent laziness, always be striving to get better, achieve more. When my alarm goes off at 6am for me to exercise and I am desperately tempted to hit snooze, that phrase jumps into my head making me get a grip and get up!
 
To figure out your personal vision, write down all the achievements you are most proud of across all areas of your life and examine why you are proud of them.  Look for a pattern as that can give you a clue to what your personal vision might be, you then need to shape that into a short phrase that summarises it.
 
How do I/we know we can do this?
When we are trying to psyche ourselves (or others) up to do something we tend to use positive verbal support – ‘you can do it, you will be great, just get on with it’.  However psychological research has shown that we are more motivated to act if we ask ourselves (and others) questions.  For example ‘How do I know I can do it?’ That forces the brain to come up with real evidence that shows you can do it.
 
Exercise: Pick a goal you are working towards and write down How do I know I can achieve (the goal)?  Write down as many pieces of evidence as you can. Stick that list up and look at it every time you have a dip in attitude, commitment or confidence.   Also use it with other people – as a team working towards an end point, ask them ‘how do we know we can do it?’  Capture what is said and display it. 
 
I could easily write another 5 pages on these topics and all the other covered in my talk, but I shall rein myself in and come back to it at a later time. I would be really interested to hear any feedback on how you got on with implementing these tips. And do get in touch if you are interested in having a speaker cover this or other management/sales topics.

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