Now don’t get excited. Even though I’m a Christian life coach and we talk about healthy marriage, this isn’t about men being afraid to commit.
In fact, what I want to talk about today relates to every business under the sun. This includes family, non-profits, churches, you name it. People are afraid of commitment, and COVID-19 has definitely spiked the reluctance levels. As I coach and mentor entrepreneurs through these times, the “uncertainty card” keeps cropping up. As if we weren’t already anxious about long-term commitments.
In his book, The 12-Week Year, Brian Moran remembers an old story about a chicken and a pig at breakfast time. The chicken, as the story goes, contributed an egg for breakfast. That makes him interested in the outcome. But the pig contributes the bacon, which makes him committed. It’s a handy point of reference for understanding the difference.
A cultural example that makes this point is a commercial from 2007 made for the US Marine Corps. The footage flashes from Marines in dress uniform, practicing rifle drills, to the intense environment of basic training, to field exercises and mission duties. The music is intense, and the messaging is clear: “We don’t accept applications. Only commitments.”
It means that if you decide to become a Marine, there’s no going back. They’ll become as much a part of you as you become part of them. As any combat veteran members of our mastermind groups online tell us, that’s true for all the armed services - and especially the Marines.
That’s how effective the military is at spelling out every detail of service members’ lives. You never have to wonder, when you wear the uniform, whether there’s work to be done or who’s going to do it. Those details are all accounted for when you serve. If you don’t have anything to do, don’t worry … they’ll find something.
If You Only Knew
I’m not sure many young men and women who sign up for the military know what they’re getting into. But I believe many of them do it because it provides structure they can’t manufacture on their own. One of the men in our mastermind groups told me, “One reason I signed up is because I needed a job that I couldn’t quit, where my employer wouldn’t fire me very easily.”
Most entrepreneurs don’t anticipate the rigors of micromanaging their own lives either. Many get lured in by concepts like “The 4-Hour Workweek” and “the laptop lifestyle.” I have nothing against Tim Ferriss’ book or entrepreneurs who enjoy working at the beach. It’s just that Tim Ferriss himself doesn’t work four hours each week, and not many of the people who take selfies with their laptops at the beach work eight to ten solid hours there every day.
The men in our online mastermind groups struggle more with limiting themselves to 40 hours a week, and they’re mostly working from home, especially now. But that’s not to paint them in a better light than someone trying to skate by on four hours per week. Both groups are in trouble, often because they fail to use the principles of The 12-Week Year to the full extent.
Another problem that robs entrepreneurs of time is lack of vision. Using The 12-Week Year in our business masterminds, we’ve seen productivity skyrocket when we have both aerial and ground-level vision. What I mean is, we don’t just get the “big picture,” the outcome, the long-term goal on the horizon. A lot of entrepreneurs can already visualize that.
Far fewer people in business (including me) see the ground-level vision - the nuts and bolts, moving parts and changing dynamics. After years of thinking about this, I don’t believe this is because “details are boring.” Yes, there are details of my business (like accounting) that don’t naturally excite me. But once I could visualize steps of paying my profit, taxes, expenses and owner’s compensation accounts correctly, updating my numbers got less boring.
Now, imagine yourself as a Marine. Your squad leader tells you “Tomorrow, we’re going to the rifle range for weapons qualification.” You can immediately visualize every step of that process. You know it means an earlier than usual start, a uniform that includes battle gear, a line to sign for your weapon at the arms room, and group transportation to the range. You know you’ll be there all day. You know there will be lines to stand in, you’ll probably eat MREs or have a snack truck bring food. You know there’ll be an orderly process to make sure everyone safely fires their weapon enough times to make qualification standards.
The military pre-plans, time-blocks and assigns numerical values to everything they do. Maybe you don’t need to get as detailed, but let’s experiment with sales calls to see if we can describe a parallel. One thing’s for sure - if you’re confused about whether you can visualize any of this stuff, you will have a much harder time executing on it consistently.
Your Daily Sales Calls
You might say, “Come on, Big A, how hard do we need to make this?” The answer is, “As hard as it needs to be for you to recognize that it’s unavoidable, and to make a firm decision to do your custom version of it, no matter the costs.”
This is how I help people as a business coach, using The 12-Week Year. We’ll pretend for this scenario that you need to add 10 new clients over the next 12 weeks, and the object of the game is to distill it down to what you’ll do in a single day.
Now, we’re assuming you work on a flow of inbound leads from advertising and referrals, and have a decent pipeline of prospects to contact. You do the quick math - 10 sales comes from 30 appointments, which comes from 100 conversations. So if you have 60 working days, that breaks down to about two prospecting conversations per day.
Is this starting to feel a little less burdensome? Anybody can do two phone appointments per day, or bring on a salesperson or commissioned closer to do it on your behalf. The practical benefit for you here doesn’t just define your daily tasks to achieve your goals. It also minimizes the amount of time you “feel” you have to spend on sales calls. After you’ve done those two sales calls, you can move on with other parts of your business.
Trust me, this is engineered to help you transition mentally from “impossible” to “given.” If you have that two-call figure fixated in your mind, all you have to do from there is ensure you’re doing all the appropriate prospecting to have ten weekly sales conversations on your calendar. That doesn’t have to mean a literal If you have five on Monday, three on Thursday and one on Friday - you are averaging two calls per day.
I hope you’re motivated after reading this. If you would like to go deeper, now’s the time to fill out an application to join one of our masterminds online.