In a tough economy, it is quite easy for sales and business development persons to blame the economy for their lack of prospecting and follow through. It is equally as easy for business owners and leaders to hunker down into sluggishness and immobility. Put more bluntly; just blame your shortcomings on the economy, everyone else does.
What keeps you from doing what you say? That was the survey question I recently put out to a wide range of business leaders and solo practitioners. I was quite amazed at one of the responses that kept repeating, “I always do what I say.” First, that was not the question, however quite a number of respondents seemed to feel it necessary to tell me that they were not guilty of my query. Second, I did not believe a one of them. Be it to customers and colleagues or family and friends—even to one’s self; not a one of us ALWAYS does what we say!
Why We Do—Not
Below, I have listed for you my survey results. The first two on the list are one in the same to me; however I listed them separately because they are subsets of the issue.
16% – Poor prioritizing
10% – Lack of time
11% – Fear of failure/lack of self confidence
9.5% – Lack of focus/distractions
9.5% – No motivation/purpose/passion
8.5% – Over commitment
8.5% – Change in priorities
4% – Circumstances beyond personal control
5% – Miscellaneous
18% – Denial (I always do what I say response)
Total equals 100%
A Quarter of the Respondents
As I stated earlier, I believe that poor prioritizing and lack of time are one in the same. Adding them together and that is the reason one-fourth of the folks that responded offered as the key reason for them not doing what they say. Is the answer to hire a productivity professional? I really do not think so. These people need a reason to do better. They are in their comfort zone and are not being challenged. Unfortunately, their attitude is I’ll get to it when I get to it. If something really matters to these people, they will make it priority one and find the time—I guarantee.
What About Denial?
The next to the highest ranking answer category (18%) was what I refer to as denial—they just will not admit any shortcomings. Every one of the twelve-step programs for overcoming dependencies calls for your admission of problem as an early step. How in the world can you fix it if you will not admit there is a problem? Sure, some might be near perfect in doing what they say, in one area: customers,colleagues, friends, family, or self—but come on, we are all human and imperfect.
Pain Verses Pleasure
I believe that, for the majority of the population, pain is more persuasive than pleasure. Simply put, people tend to be more motivated to avoid pain than by the promise of pleasure. Yes, sure—you have examples to prove me wrong; however I will stand with my statement. And, if you really think about the population in general, you’ll surely agree with me—especially in the area of getting things done.
Mechanisms for Achievement
Regardless of the reason behind non-performance, ultimately you want to end the anxiety of lost opportunities and unfulfilled promises and learn how to get the things done that you said you would. In achieving the results you want there are four basic mechanisms for doing this:
- Do it yourself. You have a “come to Jesus” talk with yourself and motivate yourself to do better. This method tends to be short lived and you will most likely backslide into your old habits of non-performance.
- Get a friend to be your accountability buddy. If you seek help from a friend by giving them permission to hassle you when you do not do what you say, you will get things done for a while. However at some point your friend will give up hassling you. This is because at some point they will perceive that to push you any harder will damage the friendship and they value the friendship more than your productivity.
- Get a distant colleague as your accountability buddy. This method will generally last much longer than the first two as long as both accountability buddies are somewhat pushing equally. Since there is much less of a quality of friendship at issue, each will feel empowered to drive the other harder and for a longer period of time.
- Get a paid accountability advisor. If you are really serious about doing what you say, there is nothing better than a paid advisor. First, since you are spending your money, you appreciate the relationship more. Second, it is your advisor’s job to not accept your BS excuses for non-performance. A paid advisor with whom you communicate weekly, will in almost every situation, help you to go further toward ending your anxiety of lost opportunities and unfulfilled promises and help you to stay focused in the area of getting the things done that you said you would.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.