Like anyone else who makes a living training or teaching, I often get asked what to do.  Questions directed at me seek the path to success through actions that one should take.

“What do I do to succeed?”

“What do I do to get more sales?”

“What do I do to get promoted?”

While there are clearly a lot of valid answers to those questions, and specific things someone can do (technique or activity) to increase our odds of success, be it in Sales or anything else, that line of thought actually only addresses half the success equation.

Success is often less about what you are willing to do, and more about what you are willing NOT to do.  The things you delete from your life are just as life changing as the things you add.

My friend Steve was a school football coach for over two decades, and would often ask his students/players a question that resonates with me.

“If I follow you around for a day, will I see a football player, or someone who plays football?”

Ask that question of yourself in any of your roles in life.

If someone followed you around for the day, would they see a husband, or someone who’s married?

If someone followed you around for the day, would they see a father, or someone who has children?

If someone followed you around for the day, would they see a Sales Professional, or someone who has a job in Sales?

What is the difference?

Someone who has a job in sales is willing to DO things.  They are willing to show up to work on time. They are willing to make cold calls. They are willing to attend a sales training (but only if the company pays for it).

A Sales Professional is willing to NOT do things to succeed.  He or She is willing to NOT sit on the couch 2 hours a night and watch TV.  A Sales Professional is willing to NOT sleep in an extra 30 minutes, instead choosing to get up earlier and prep their day.  A Sales Professional is willing to NOT join into the office gripe pity party around the water cooler. A Sales Professional is willing to NOT have 30 minutes of free time at the end of the night, instead choosing to read sales blogs, listen to a podcast on sales skills.  A Sales Professional is willing to NOT be reimbursed for a training seminar that he/she will benefit from even after leaving their current company.

In that simple question that Steve asks his players, is an inherent truth that success often comes from what we are willing to give up, far more than what we are willing to do.

Albert Einstein once stated that solutions cannot be found at the same level of thinking that existed when the problem was identified.  We have to let go of some things to break new ground and grow.  Growth involves giving up some comfortable things.

If you take a quick audit of your life, you’ll likely find a few things, habits, behaviors that seem harmless.  Deeper analysis, however, will often reveal that a lack of willingness to let go of those, to NOT do them, creates obstacles to the things that you do want to accomplish.

For example, 30 minutes a day is 3 hours a week (take Sunday off).  That’s 12 hours a month, or 144 hours a year.  In work time, 144 hours is over 3.5 weeks (using a 40hr week).  If you took 3.5 weeks of work time to focus on accomplishing something, or developing a skill, how much progress would you make?  I would imagine that almost anyone can become a near expert at something if they took 3.5 weeks off to focus on it 8 hours a day.

Isolate your number 1 priority, the one thing that you want above all other things.  It could be being a better husband or father.  It could be getting promoted, moving into management, or even switching careers.  Personal or professional, anything you focus on 30 minutes a day will progress, faster than you can imagine.  The 30 minutes can be reading up on the subject, executing tasks, creating the task list, or anything else that increases your knowledge or moves the ball forward.

Simply being willing to let go of some perhaps comfortable habits, forces one to replace it with something else.  That control over your focus, what you do and what you don’t do yields amazing results for a small effort.

Ask yourself:

If someone followed you around for the day, would they see someone who is alive, or someone who’s just living?  What’s the difference?