You could call it a sales rut or just a plateau. Complacency or even “stuckness.” We all get into these traps of thoughts, habits and actions. Times when we know that our results are falling far shy of our potential. Well, it’s time to breakthrough those barriers. It’s time to get on a “winning streak.” And, there’s no better time to start than NOW!
Our work with sales professionals plus our experience with sports teams at the high-school, university and professional levels has indicated that there are common traits for all people who get on a “winning streak.” The idea is to incorporate these traits into yourself and your team to quickly achieve the performance levels you need.
Here Are Five Characteristics of Winning Streaks
1) Get Your Swagger Back!: We’re talking about reality-based confidence and optimism, not Pollyanna thinking. Recent research indicates that there is a “tipping point” for changing mediocre results into a winning streak of top performance. According to Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., a 3-to-1 positive to negative ratio in your thoughts and actions builds your ability to flourish and develop confidence. There are behaviors you can repeat until they become habits which help you become more optimistic such as becoming aware of your “explanatory style.” What do you say to yourself when things are going wrong? Do you grimace and curse silently or smile and say “now there’s something I can learn from.” If you notice that your explanations when things go wrong are negative, by changing your self-talk to positive, you begin to look at work and life from a consistently more affirmative point of view. By seeing what athletes say to the TV reporters after a losing effort, you can get a very good idea of their level of optimism and whether they are consistent winners.
2) Ignite Your Energy: The brain and body work together. In the book CatchFire, it’s shown that there’s a direct link between physical movement and mental toughness in business and in life. (When asked about the tools needed for today’s top performers, Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE answered, “Energy, always number one.”) Becoming physically active automatically gives you the energy necessary to get “unstuck.”
3) Get Creative: Will yesterday’s answers solve today’s problems? Don’t think so. The new tough landscape gives us freedom to become “explorers” and really stand out in our industry. The old ways don’t work and we have to come up with the new. Creativity turns “breakdowns into breakthroughs.” We must access the tools to develop “beginner’s mind” as a way to look at any situation from a different point of view. Teflon was designed as a potential nose coating for rockets. When that didn’t work, one of the scientists joked that “you could fry an egg on that stuff.” So they did, and thus the Teflon industry was born (and a new way to joke about slick politicians.)
4) Communicate More, Not Less: In tough times, winning performers communicate more, not less, and with a heightened sense of fun, for better results. Studies in neuroscience teach us how to communicate to people’s strengths, give actionable feedback and create an environment for new ideas and solutions. Open communication … to your customers, your co-workers, management and your friends is key to starting and maintaining a winning streak.
5) Take Action: Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear … not the absence of fear.” Stuckness and fear stop us from taking action. Research at Harvard by Rosabeth Moss Cantor, Ph.D. shows that you have to first have a “win” to start a winning streak. Strategically placed small victories help push us past fear and into action. Small victories that you create for yourself give you a confidence level which helps you overcome the fear of taking action. For example, making “warm-up” calls to colleagues or friends gets you ready for the tougher calls or unpleasant feedback.
Winning teams are aggressive and flexible at the same time. Every time you get tentative, you lose. Your brain chemistry and psychology pulls you back into the mire of “stuckness,” and you can’t compete at a winning level.
By concentrating on the traits of a winning streak, you’ll increase your productivity and have a lot more fun along the way.