I’m a cheerleader. I’m not doing perky flips in a uniform but when someone drives to their goals I’m there with my metaphorical pom pons. You can do it! The frustrating aspect of this compulsion is people loathe to communicate a need. We’re trained to look busy and competent. Hard work will lead to success. If we ask for help or a “rah-rah” we might paint ourselves in a bad light. Look around you. The hustlers in your office could be hiding a secret anxiety or flail behind that professional exterior. We’re all looking for the key to success and side eying the others who look like they have it all.
It’s All About Me (You)
Hard work is subjective. Hard work is very personal. In fitness there is a “Rating of Perceived Exertion” (RPE) scale that ranges from “No exertion at all” to “Maximal exertion” at each respective end. I’m not a fitness trainer but when I’m on a forum there are always questions from people asking why they’re not seeing results. Many of them only ask questions online after they’ve given up trying to solve on their own or have spent months denying they have a problem. People are always willing to step up with ideas and support on top of the expert trainers and leaders. Unfortunately, advice given is generic and few ask the come to Jesus question “Are you really working hard?” If you are serious about improvement don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to look inward.
In my experience true growth takes place when you let your training crack you open. Don’t resist the process or make assumptions that lots of tasks or being busy means you’re working hard. In the workout world there are the sleek, gazelles who breeze through a workout barely break a sweat. I thought I wanted to be a gazelle but I’m usually the hot mess bordering on hyperventilation. It’s not pretty but I feel confident flirting with the edges of discomfort to unlock the next level of growth. I have reams of data to support a steady growth in my workouts to justify that sweat and tears. No challenge, no change.
At the office this RPE might be applied to, say, call volume. If you need to do 100 dials are you breaking a sweat? Do you get 100 voicemails and feel like you worked hard today? Couldn’t you do this all day, every day, practically in your sleep? If you feel that you worked hard that’s great. You might even be done early as a reward. Yet, after the stack rankings come out next month you could be disappointed that your “hard work” didn’t net any revenue. It’s not fair, is it? Your cube mate might have been lagging in dials while struggling to create tailored pitches to hook prospects. They might be taking time out of their day to nurture a customer whose solution was sold two months ago. Chances are they’re watching you working the phones and wishing they had it “that easy” while you’re wondering why they’re not sticking to the script. We need to stay in our own lanes and monitor personal RPEs on the work we’re doing to up our games.
Being the hardest worker in the room doesn’t always mean success.
Back to the 100 dials. If you’re meeting the KPI and cleaning up on the gamification boards, is that it? It takes dedication to growth and development to rate your 100 dials on your RPE scale and ask yourself how hard the “work” feels. If you’re coasting, chances are it will get even easier over time. Familiarity will bring comfort and drive the RPE even lower. You’re better than that. Peek at the neighbor with the 60 quality dials and ask yourself if you might stretch your goals a bit. Can you do your 100 calls and book one more demo today? Can you manufacture 10% more verified contacts? Can you challenge yourself to develop a personal rapport and tailor your talk track to the individual rather than your script?
No, this won’t be as easy on the RPE scale. In fact, if you keep stretching yourself the ceiling from last week will become the new floor, or baseline for next week. You thought you were hustling earlier. Now we’re breaking a sweat and playing with the discomfort zone. Maybe you’re no longer number one on the boards but you had actionable conversations with decision makers about a very hot deal. Suddenly busywork is RFPs and juggling demos and contracts. It sounds difficult, but your ramped-up training will come into play and you’ll be thriving in this new comfort zone.
I hope you have a cheerleader to encourage you to push that extra yard or to broadcast your achievements. Be aggressive! B-E AGGRESSIVE! Be on the lookout for mentors and peers but always be willing to be your own cheerleader. Be willing to evaluate the value and effectiveness of your own work so you can improve. Success is rarely about doing the bare minimum but the successful will create a plan to push themselves. You are the CEO of your own destiny.