Category Archives: Sales & Service Training & Techniques

Do you say it’s urgent?


eisenhowerDwight David Eisenhower had a pretty decent career. Supreme Commander of the forces that defeated one of the vilest regimes ever to threaten civilization. 34th President of the United States during one of the most prosperous periods ever experienced by any country in the history of the world.

So who better to turn to as a model for how we use the precious time of our lives? I’m referring of course to the Eisenhower Principle that distinguishes between urgent and important activities. It goes like this: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” Rendered as a graphic, the Eisenhower Principle might have looked like this on June 5, 1944.

With all the claims on his time, Ike needed a simple, clarifying way to make sure that things that appeared to be urgent didn’t divert him from things that were assuredly more important—and at the same time, not procrastinate matters that were both urgent and important.

He also recognized that great time management means being effective as well as efficient. We must spend our time on things that are important and not just the ones that are urgent. To do this, and to minimize the stress of having too many tight deadlines, we need to understand this distinction.

When I began to teach managers and employees how to manage their time most productively, I was working with executives from one of the country’s greatest brokerage organizations – ambitious, hard-charging, intelligent executives. But they had in common a failing endemic among high achievers who are not skilled in managing their time: They had trouble distinguishing between urgent and important. So I adapted the Eisenhower Principle to the workplace in the form of Critical Few versus Minor Many.

Our Critical Few are those which, if we neglect them, will have dire consequences for us, whether in business or our personal lives. Our Minor Many are not necessarily insignificant, but they can wait, and their neglect might be disappointing but not dire.

Personal preferences can complicate our reasoning. I get great intellectual stimulation from floating new ideas with my team, and I consider time spent this way to be of the utmost importance. One of my colleagues likes to work out problems alone, doing solitary research. Another likes to solve business problems by putting a pencil to them – working them out in financial terms. Who doubts that these preferences cause all three of us to consider work that we enjoy to be more “critical” than work we dislike?

So, to separate our Critical Few from our Minor Many, the first step is to subject our too-long to-do list to an 80/20 analysis that obviates personal preferences: Which ones deliver more value than the time, energy, and expense it takes to accomplish them?

When clients wrestle with priorities, I take them through the DERSSIM Logic System.

  • Define the problem.
  • Understand the Effects of not solving the problem.
  • Identify the Reason for the problem.
  • Conceive a Solution.
  • SIM stands for the Solution Implementation Methodology.

Which problem, if not solved, has the greatest negative or positive effect? Sometimes the reason for the problem isn’t immediately identifiable, but the effect may require immediate attention.

If an individual is having difficulty breathing, the reason may not be immediately apparent; however, getting the individual to breathe is of utmost importance. In other words, act now on urgent matters.

Even when the reason is apparent, remember that a solution for a problem without a solution implementation methodology is worthless.

So the next time you are faced with way too many obligations, all of which “feel” urgent, take a deep breath, and run them through the DERSSIM Logic System. It won’t take long, and it will quickly clarify things for you. You will end up knowing, with confidence, how you should allocate your next minutes and hours. You will know what is urgent for you when you apply the Important vs. Urgent Test, taking care to apply it objectively to your own situation and needs. We all know people for whom almost everything seems urgent. When my wife answers calls for me at home at inopportune times, she has a habit of cupping her hand over the phone to whisper a reminder to me: “He says it’s urgent, but it might be HIS urgent and not YOUR urgent.” I find that immensely helpful.

Just remember – nobody else can decide your urgent. Learn how to quickly draw those distinctions for yourself so that you don’t suffer those agonizing moments of wondering what to do for whom and when – and almost inevitably, out of a desire to please or clear the decks for your own purposes, doing other people’s urgent, not your own. That’s not the path to career success or life happiness!

Who is your greatest Time Bandit? Ask the mirror.


Ask the mirror

Ask the mirror

 

What is more self-defeating than a command to “Concentrate!”  Even when you say it to yourself.  Concentration has never been a highly cultivated skill, but these days, in our interruption culture, it’s even more difficult.  The National Center for Biotechnology Information finds that our average attention span is down to about 8 seconds (from 12 seconds fifteen years ago.)

Eight seconds!  That’s a problem.  Elsewhere on this blog I’ve written about Time Bandits and the damage they inflict.  But just as big a story about Time Bandits is this:  We are our own worst thieves of our precious time.  We steal from ourselves.  What could be more perverse?

Even (especially?) when we most want to concentrate on the job at hand, we experience what I call Mental Leakage.  The mind goes elsewhere, to some other subject.  Maybe something more entertaining.  More distressing.  More visible or audible.  If we are unaccustomed to concentrating, that means we are accustomed to mind-wandering, so we give in to a habit honed by years of accidental “practice.”

I said “we,” not “you” for a good reason.  Even though I invented the term and created the solutions for Time Banditry, I have not entirely immunized myself against the pull of old habits.  I am as prone to fragmented focus as you.  That’s why over the years I have developed and perfected a series of techniques to permit Focal Locking, which is the solution to Mental Leakage.

It was a harrowing personal situation that prompted me to do so.  I tell the whole story in my book, but let me sketch it for you briefly here.

I’d been scuba diving and got a dangerous case of “the bends.”  While I was experienced and knew better than to rise to the surface too quickly, I was aiding an inexperienced diver who didn’t know the danger.  I was taken to the emergency room where the doctor told me what I already guessed – the condition was potentially fatal, but a stint in a decompression chamber would cure me.

I knew the chamber was barely big enough for me to fit inside, so I didn’t relish such claustrophobic treatment, but I was okay until the doctor told me how long I’d be confined:  Nine hours.  From my book:

If you have ever received frightening news, maybe you recognize my first emotion.  It was simple.  “I cannot do this.”  No more claustrophobic than the ordinary person, I still couldn’t imagine being confined to a barely see-through coffin for much longer than I could hold my breath.  Nine hours!!!  That is a whole working day, with nothing to do but think, in a situation where all thoughts are terrifying.  I would panic.  I would suffocate.  If I screamed would they hear me?  Help me?  All those thoughts raced through my mind as if it had joined my body in torturing me.

Obviously I survived, or I wouldn’t be writing this blog.  I survived because I drew on almost everything I had ever learned in my whole life about making my mind do what I wanted it to:  not think about my confinement and instead carry me to blissful places where panic couldn’t intrude.  Yoga, breathing techniques, mantras, psychotherapeutic techniques – I used them all.

My point is, you can exercise control of your mind.  You can prevent Mental Leakage when you must.  You just have to develop new techniques to replace your old habits, and they are all there in my book.  Different techniques work better for some people.  You have to choose the ones that suit your challenges, your personality.

But let me offer you one of the most powerful solutions here – actually a series of steps.  It is called meditative relaxation, wherein you focus on your breath, both inhalations and exhalations, keeping your eyes closed. Focus deeply on a mantra that enables you to escape to a seascape, landscape, or the cosmos, just for ten seconds. On the exhalation of your breath, to yourself, utter the word, “Calm.”

Do this three times.  As you begin to feel Calm take effect, return to the task that requires your focused attention and say to yourself, “If I can Time Lock, I can Focal Lock.”  I can bear down on the task at hand.  I can enter into my Time Lock for its full length, complete this task, and then undo the Focal Lock and focus on other matters.

Happy Focal Locking.  And if it’s a little rocky at first, don’t worry – you’re learning a new skill that will serve you well for the rest of your life – at work and in other parts of your life.  And here’s the really good news: I bet you don’t have to do it for nine hours!

 

 

 

The 800-lb Gorilla


gorilla800

The value of human capital in companies worldwide is significantly more appreciated now than in the past.  Having highly skilled employees is essential.

However, in reality, the majority of corporate training does not result in consistent behavior change but instead, at best, an increased clarity and increased motivation.  And neither of these in and of themselves necessarily increase capability and competence at selling.  Eventually, a sales person that “feels” confident but is ineffective at selling will soon lose that confidence if he or she cannot produce results.

So, what is the 800-lb gorilla sitting in corporate training and ignored, that is a way of life within successful organizations that produce significant and lasting behavioral changes?  The answer:  Deliberate and Focused Practice and Rehearsal!

Performance Drilling: http://ow.ly/AZoCI

smPD

CB Tips


cbtipsTeleconsulting:

Create a differentiated Personalized Relationship experience for clients and make every call relationship-focused rather than a single-purposed contact. As a result you will increase client satisfaction and strengthen and expand client relationships.

call-center-womanLearn more:
Advanced Learning Teleconsulting Lab (APTL) http://ow.ly/zbFTD

What A Year It Has Been!


success 2What a year it has been!  How did it go for you?  Did your year-end results match your year-opening resolutions?  Did you discover new challenges?  New solutions?  At Cohen Brown, we are all about results – helping our clients improve their business results through leadership advances and better performance of their sales and service teams.

All year long, our Results Consultants posted fresh, interesting and sometimes humorous blogs on those subjects.  We thought you would enjoy a second look at the Top Ten – those that garnered the most readers.  Enjoy them as you plan for your own success in 2014.

They Dress Up for Work Now

Your Service is Great. But, Do You Want My Business

Don’t Interrupt Me When I’m Interrupting You

Five Traits of Top-Performing Contact Centers

Motivation: Sometimes One Sentence Is Enough…

Why Do Human Beings Need New ‘Tools’?

Are Your People Robots or People?

Overcoming Obstacles to Behavioral Embedding

The Peaks and Valley Nightmare

You’ve Got Some ‘Splainin’ to Do!

High hopes for performance and results in 2014.

Enjoy!

Cohen Brown

canstockphoto12322029