Over the last 20 years and coaching more than 3000 sales managers to help them drive success for themselves and their teams the overwhelming feedback has been that improving sales performance usually does not, on it’s own, lead to a happier life.
This mirrored my own experience that working hard, elevating performance, and ascending to the top of my game made me successful but success alone doesn’t make us happy and fulfilled.
Just like my clients, I love being successful. Providing for my family and contributing to a team gave me pride. Coaching managers to be their best and contributing to their own ripple effect in their organizations made me excited and thrilled. So, what was missing? Do we have to give up achievement in order to by happy?
Sales managers have a special place in my heart: we shared the same passion and dedication to our respective crafts. Yet, for many, something was missing. I wanted to know how happy AND successful sales managers had become that way. What were all the pieces? What made work and life successful and meaningful? What made them happy and fulfilled? What barriers did they face?
Just like the sales managers I coached, I loved being successful. Providing for my family gave me pride. Coaching managers to be their best and contributing to their own ripple effect in their organizations made me excited and thrilled. I didn’t want to give up my ability to contribute to a team, to be loyal to my partners and clients, and to have a nice lifestyle.
What we’ve learned is that for high achievers, success is part of a fulfilling life. But on its own it doesn’t make us happy. The danger is when the drive and the busyness become too much, and it’s not balanced by the intention of a bigger vision. It leads to increased stress and anxiety, which spills over into both our personal and professional lives. When this happens, we have to work harder to keep our performance edge. In other words, we put in more effort just to maintain performance.
This state is not sustainable and it is not a neutral state. We are draining our batteries, but we may not see it or feel it yet, because our past ability to perform at high levels leads us to believe we can sustain that no matter what. But we can’t sustain it once our batteries are depleted. This is actually the moment that in retrospect we look back on and point to as the beginning of the downward spiral that takes us out of our best game.
I believe this research and work is so important because it provides the opportunity to see the unfolding downward spiral before it is too late. (If you’d like to see the full report, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it to you.)
4 KEY DISCOVERIES
Lack of intention and effectiveness is not the core problem
Initially, we believed that with the tools to articulate aspirations, create a vision, set intentions, and execute plans, sales managers would successfully create their desired fulfilling life. What we learned is that while having intention and tools are incredibly important, it’s putting the cart before the horse.
Stress is a core inhibitor of crafting a meaningful, happy, successful life and career
What really surprised us was that the main problem for sales managers is the sheer volume of stress and anxiety they felt left them unable to contemplate what they really wanted. Many couldn’t imagine how to create the vision of what they wanted or how progress would be possible.
Being busy and pursuing achievement is not the cause of imbalance
We also learned that successful and happy sales managers were not working less or achieving less. In fact, they were often continuing to excel and achieve more than ever. Reducing performance and achievement was not necessary to having a fulfilling life.
Performance in home and work life sprout from the same core mental dynamic
The reason it is hard or impossible to keep work and life separate is because they stem from the same mental dynamic. Stress from work can spill over into home life and stress at home can spill over into work. Struggle at one often leads to struggle at the other.
This leads to a downward or negative spiral. By contrast, the happiest and most successful sales managers have created a positive, upward spiral in all areas of life.
Next month, we’ll share more of our findings including what you (and your team) can do to reverse the negative spiral and begin creating an upward spiral that will generate greater success and happiness. (If you’d rather not wait, please email me at email@example.com to get the full report now.)