All growth begins with personal growth. ~ Les Heinsen.
I first heard Les say this from the platform at a very large sales conference. It made an impression on me, but I didn’t realize how much it shaped my career until much later.
I have always enjoyed reading and learning, but I haven’t always had a conscious, well-formed plan. In fact, most of the books I read were chosen because of the shiny cover jacket on the shelf of the bookstore or the rack at the airport. It is amazing to me that I was able to retain as much as I did since I was bouncing all over the place.
It wasn’t until I was listening to a John Maxwell Maximum Impact Club recording that I put it all together. John was talking about how one of his early mentors asked him what his personal development plan was. John hemmed and hawed but eventually had to admit he didn’t have one. This was my story too! I didn’t have a plan either.
Wandering In The Wilderness
As I have led thousands of independent agents and leaders, I have found few of them work on self-development at all. In fact, according to Tony Robbins and Chet Helms, 80% of salespeople have never read at least one book on sales… WHAT?!?! As sales professionals (and sales leaders) we have the ability to make more money than most doctors, especially when you figure in their student loan debt. Yet so few salespeople take the opportunity to become true professionals.
But You Are A Pro, Right?
The good news is, that no matter what you have or haven’t learned in the past, you can still choose to rise above the 80%. Reading a book or two on sales or leadership is a good place to start, but it will not allow you to rise to the top of the ranks.
Instead, I would encourage you to take a couple of hours (not in green time) and make an honest assessment of where you shine and where you might need some help. Then decide how serious about your personal growth you want to be. Be realistic about how much time you have to devote and the speed which you read. Some people can read for an hour a day and others struggle to find 20 minutes. If you focus your reading for 20 minutes per day, you can easily read two books a month. Even one book a month will be a career changer! Regardless of how much time you can devote, you need to START NOW!
Where To Begin
So what should you read? You will next need to work with a mentor or coach to put together a learning plan based on your observations. For example, if you are having trouble managing your time and/or things are falling through the cracks, they might suggest David Allen’s, Getting Things Done. The Art of Stress-free Productivity. (I have highly recommended this book for years.)
Reading Is Fundamental – But It Isn’t Enough
As much as I would encourage you to read, it is not the only way you should look to grow. There is probably at least one, annual, major conference your organization holds every year. Get there! Even if you don’t think you can afford it, you still need to go. Not only will you learn an incredible amount from the speakers and breakout sessions, you will learn even more at the bar. The ability to network with your peers is priceless.
I would also challenge you to find one other multi-day conference/training class to attend. I can’t tell you the impact conferences like Michael Hyatt’s Launch, Platform, and SCORRE have had on my life. The fact that you are reading this is due to my 2013 attendance at the Launch Conference in Orlando. I met a group of guys that included Paul Freed and John Reinhart. Together we were able to hold each other accountable to “Launching” our dreams.
We are not done with conferences yet though. You have planned to attend two major events for the year, but I believe you should supplement them with two other day-long opportunities for growth. For instance, I have attended Leadercast Live, a one-day leadership conference that is held at 700 locations in 20 countries, for the last 15+ years.
Coaching Works? Who Knew?
Working with a coach on a regular, consistent basis, can dramatically speed your personal growth. I can’t stress this enough. My career would have stalled out ten years ago if it wasn’t for the advice, encouragement, and sometimes not so subtle admonitions of my coach. Yes, I do coaching. No, this is not a shameless plug to use me (although I believe I can undoubtedly help you.) Just work with someone!
Winning On A Technicality
Maybe you need to take a technical class such as mastering Excel or learning how to leverage LinkedIn. There is no shortage of opportunities to study and help you improve in countless ways. My favorite resource is Lynda.com. You can learn almost any technical skill in short bite-sized videos that often allow you to work along as you go.
If It Isn’t In Writing, It Doesn’t Exist
That brings us back to the whole idea of a personal development plan. The only way you are going to stay on task, and improve in the areas you most need it, is to get these things down on paper and then into your calendar. Yes, even include the book(s) you are going to read each month. “If it doesn’t get calendared, it doesn’t get done!” – Tim Martin
Understand that you may make adjustments throughout the year. Perhaps you suddenly realize that you really need to work on your prospecting skills more than you originally thought. Of course, you can jump in and change things on the fly. But if you don’t have a plan in the first place, where are you going to find the time to work in this critical area?
Sorry, No Excuses!
You can no longer blame your lack of growth on not knowing what to do. You now have a choice. You can either continue to go along with the flow and hope your career and life turn out the way you want, or you can get very intentional. My hope is that you would take the time to create a personal growth plan that is based on who you want to be, where you want to go, and what you want to achieve.
Everyone who emails me (CLICK HERE) their personal development plan will receive a copy of my eBook Disturbing Questions – Making The Decision Maker Uncomfortable.