How to decide what NOT to do

Are you trying to be successful doing the work that successful people throw out? This true story is about more than salespeople. It is about accountants, programmers and managers too.

Paul, beginning his job in sales, told me, “My manager seems to be able to make a sale every time we go on a call together.  All the people we visit want to buy.  He sells as much as everyone else in the office put together.  When I take the leads he gives me, I can’t get them interested at all.  What am I doing wrong?”

Paul was doing nothing wrong.  His manager was visiting only high quality leads.  Paul was visiting everyone that his manager didn’t pick for himself.  His manager got the golden leads and Paul got the brass. Worse, Paul refused to look for the best quality leads in what he was given.  He just went out and visited everyone.

Successful salespeople, accountants, programmers, managers, secretaries and septic tank cleaners all know what sales leads, jobs, duties and knowledge are most important.

Pick out the most successful person you know who is doing the job you want.  Invite him out to lunch.  Ask him, “What do you do that is different from less successful people?”  Take notes.  Don’t let him stop with one quick answer.  Ask about what he reads, what he does, and the jobs he refuses to do.

If you really pry, you will find out that he no longer does a lot of things he used to do.  Ask him, “What have you stopped doing because you no longer have the time to do it?”  You’ll find that successful people really do work differently.  They are picky.  They find ways to get drudge work assigned to others.  They study particularly difficult problems so that they are assigned the most interesting projects.  They also invite themselves into meetings where thorny issues are discussed.  They go prepared with fresh information.  That’s how they get reputations as problem solvers.

If you want to become a guru, act like one.  Do what the gurus do.  Just as important, find a way to get out of the work that successful people throw away.

Something To Do Today

Make that call to a successful person doing the job you want next.  Find out what they attribute their success to.  Also find out what they no longer are doing.

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