40-Day Business Leadership Peak Performance Programme Day 6: The Ideal

OK, today is a short session.  But first, did you start collecting excuses? This is tool you will use from now one especially if you rely on people to do what they agreed to do.

Years ago I sold real estate. I was given a territory and was told to canvas that territory meaning go out and door knock the neighbourhood, introduce myself and give them a card and ask them if they wanted to list their property for sale. It can be soul destroying to go door to door and meet with rejection after rejection. So I started to collect those objections. Over a six week period I collected about 168 reasons why people were not going to list their property.

Then one day I noticed a pattern. Those 168 objections clustered down to five main themes. I was talking to the wrong person – they weren’t the owner. They were concerned about the cost of using our services, or whether it would work. They didn’t want to move. Or they didn’t like me or something abut me. Maybe I was too young, too old, too pushy, too Australian, lacking in confidence, overly confident. But five main themes.

Year later when I employed salespeople I used to run into situations where some were not making target. And there was always some excuse. It was the market, the competition, the economy, wrong time of month, poor training, lack of sale collateral, not fully mastering some social media tool. I’m too busy. It was never their fault. There was always some reasonable explanation for why I couldn’t expect the results I wanted. I built a team of coaches and the ones that underperformed were masters of excuse making. So over time I started to collect their excuses. And there definitely is a pattern!

There might be 1001 excuses but trust me, they always cluster down into a small number of themes. The universe of probable cause is smaller than you think. For example, motive, means and opportunity are the three themes that underpin all crime.

So collect problems and excuses.

My client, Simon, runs a CAD drawing business for the construction industry and he collected excuses over a six week period and discovered five key reasons why projects go wrong; something to do with the software, hardware, designer (skills, knowledge, experience), the estimator or the client. That’s it. All the excuse making revolved around those issues. It’s not my fault because … the software is out of date. Because this machine is old. Because the client didn’t tell me or the client did tell me but I was busy.

Pay attention. Collect excuses.

The excuses you need to pay attention to most are your own. I can’t because … I didn’t because … I won’t because … I did because … Whenever you hear the word because what comes next is either the truth or an excuse. So pay attention.

And a culture of excuses IS an upside down rocket. It was an upside down rocket in my business that cost me a lot of money.

So stay with the upside down rocket. If what you’ve got right now is an upside down rocket – and that’s a problem – then what does success look like? What’s the ideal? What do you want instead? The answer is obvious: the rocket is pointing the right way up.
Imagine your problems are like upside down rockets. Right now they are pointing down. But they have a preferred opposite. There is an ideal. For example, the preferred opposite is the rocket is pointing up and ready for launch. But let’s apply this to our example clients.

  • David now accepts that his weight is a problem, but what is the ideal? In this case David is 123 kilos and the ideal is to be around 80 kilos.
  • Ron’s late paying customers … now pay their bills on time.
  • Kevin listens to his staff calmly … without yelling at them … even if they have done something wrong.
  • Ian no longer lends tools … and his apprentices now have their own equipment.

I worked with a golf pro and he kept slicing the ball. He could play a perfect game on his own but as soon as he played a tournament in front of a crowd of people he kept slicing the ball.

We traced it back to a time when someone laughed as he was about to tee off and we recognised that he lifted his head ever so slightly to see who it was … just as he hit the ball.

He imagined that they were laughing … at him!

We discovered that small micro-movement only occurred with an audience.

So he needed to STOP tuning into the crowd … and START tuning into his mental and physical game. (Later you will learn about arguments for limitation and chatter.)
But the ideal was he was able to hit the ball like a professional – in a straight line.

So again, take one of your problems and first decide what’s the problem and then decide what the ideal looks like. What you’d prefer otherwise. Again, pick something easy. I know you’ve probably got more serious problems you want to pick, but please, for now pick an easy one … and here’s the key … even if you don’t know HOW you will get the ideal outcome.

As an example, Scott needs more sales. So the ideal is more sales. There are lots of ways to get more sales but for now all you need to know is the result Scott is chasing is more sales.

We’ll worry about how, later.


So that’s day 6. Just play with problem and ideal. Problem to ideal. Keep it simple. Just work the imagination muscle. Flip your problem over into its ideal.

Here’s why.  Most people spend 60% of their time thinking about, talking about and feeling bad about their problems. That is what most people habitually do. I know problems are more salient meaning the brain allocates more resources to them than positive stuff – which is why it is hard to stay positive. The result is over time you’ve actually trained yourself to focus more on the problem than the ideal. Often my clients are immersed in the problem. You’re just really good at thinking about problems … but not the ideal.

If you can’t see how you will achieve the ideal … you will go back to focusing on the problem. And you will allocate even more time to the problem.

Eventually you may even deny there’s even a problem and learn to live with the way things are instead of how you’d like them to be, instead.

Neurologically, your brain has learned to devote more resources to feeling bad about problems. If the usual result is you can’t think of solutions … then the next problem you run into will probably go the same way … automatically.

Your brain is hardwired to run with whatever requires the less resources. This is why you need to develop your ability to think about the ideal.
Einstein was – neurologically – correct when he said,

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking 

we used when we created them.” 

Literally. See you tomorrow.

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Andrew Priestley is a qualified business leadership coach with clients worldwide. He is the author of The Money Chimp, Starting and How Money Flows Through Your Business. You can contact him through www.andrewpriestley.com

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It goes without saying that this is for information only and The Author  cannot be held responsible for any losses or damages that occur as a result of reading this material.

© 2017 Andrew Priestley/TCE Ltd

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