Can or Can't; Will or Won't
I am at boot camp. Not real boot camp, mind you, but the kind they have in the suburbs these days for those who are either bored by traditional gyms or looking for someone to tell them to work harder.
Technically, I fit into a third category - those who have purchased a five week membership from Living Social for a low, low introductory price. Well, even more technically, my wife bought it for both of us. Now, here I am in the spartan gym getting ready to rumble at 5:43 a.m.
I catch a glimpse of myself in the wall-length mirror and notice that I have bed head. I do not care. Eyeing the other men, I see they all have bed head. None of them care, either. The clock strikes 5:45 and the instructor yells out,
"Five forty-five. Four hundred meter warm-up."
Two dozen suburban Moms and Dads file wordlessly out the door and start jogging around the parking lot. As the warm, moist air mugs me, I begin to wonder how I got here.
Flash back to three months ago when my wife asked if I would be interested in going to boot camp. I thought,
"Why not? The boot camp location is right across the street from the neighborhood and I need something to get me ready for the upcoming Tough Mudder this Fall."
So, I said,
"Sure, sounds good. I need something to help me get ready for the Tough Mudder this Fall anyway."
Which is roughly what one might expect me to say if in fact: 1) I had a specific goal (Tough Mudder) and 2) I thought the action (boot camp) might help me achieve the goal. But, here was the problem with uttering just two sentences. I had now just publicly committed myself to both a goal and a method for achieving the goal. Not long thereafter, I mentioned at work that I was going to do the Tough Mudder this Fall and someone asked me the type of training I would be doing in order to get ready.
"Well, I just signed up for boot camp so I'll be doing that," I said.
There it was again. A public declaration of an intent to achieve something and then a more specific commitment of a way in which it would be achieved. Not long thereafter, people started asking me if I had started boot camp yet and when I replied in the negative I could see disappointment and doubt in their eyes. They doubted that I was going to do the Tough Mudder. They doubted that I intended to achieve my goal.
While, at first, I regretted telling anyone about Tough Mudder or boot camp - because they seemed to ask me if I had started yet every day - I slowly changed my mind. My public declaration made it more likely that I was going to do what I said. After all, I put it out there and now I had the pressure of doing it because people were asking me about it. As time went on, I realized that I was far more likely to actually join boot camp and do the Tough Mudder simply because I had told people I was going to do it.
During the warm-up run, I realize that the accomplishment of any goal comes down to two basic questions:
Question #1 - Can you do that which you are declaring you are going to do?
Question #2 - Will you do that which is necessary to achieve what you've declared?
In my case, the first question concerns my physical ability to complete a Tough Mudder course. Since I have no physical limitations that would prevent me for completing the course, the answer to Question #1 is "yes".
The second question really gets to the heart of the matter. Will you join boot camp? Will you participate fully in boot camp? Will you seek the advice of those who have gone before? Will you actually sign up for the Tough Mudder? Will you show up on the day of the event?
Will you or won't you do what you have to do in order to achieve the goal you claim you intend to achieve?
This is the question that every seller must answer. Will you do the prospecting? Will you prepare the materials? Will you qualify the target accounts? Will you make the phone calls? Will you see the number of people required? Will you really keep the goal in mind and adjust your behavior accordingly every single day?
The achievement of easy goals doesn't require a seller to commit to boot camp-type work but those who seek to achieve at a high level must make a disproportionate effort. Further, those sellers who publicly declare their intention to achieve at a level that will be disproportionately rewarded by their industry must be willing to answer the question from those around them:
"Have you started boot camp, yet?"