Excuses and Obstacles

Hello from Wyoming, where I’m in the midst of the vacation part of my working vacation. By the time you read this, I’ll be in the Teton National Park (shown in the photo here), one of my very favorite locations ever.

A few weeks ago I wrote about starting to work with a personal trainer and noted the similarities between that activity and business development activity. (If you missed that article, you can find it here.)  As I was packing for my business trip/vacation, and especially during the first few days, I discovered yet another layer of similarity.

The first day of my vacation, I went to the resort gym (about a 3-minute walk from my room) and discovered it was locked. It wasn’t convenient, but I walked the extra 10 minutes to and from the front desk to pick up the key to the gym.  And when I got into the gym, I discovered that the elliptical machine (my favorite) wasn’t working and that the distribution of free weights began at 15 pounds, then jumped to 25.  I usually use 8- or 10-pound weights.

Could I possibly have a better excuse to skip my workout? Being on vacation, having to walk all the way across the resort to get a key, and then finding poor equipment seemed like the trifecta for an ironclad excuse.  No one would blame me for skipping, and I’d feel guilt-free.

But (as you know since I’ve already cited the poor equipment) I walked across the resort to get the key. When I got to the gym, I used the bike, even though I grumbled the whole time.  And I did what I could with the too-heavy weights, then did exercises that used my own weight to complete the workout.  It wasn’t my best workout, by a long stretch, but it was good enough.

Why did I do all that, especially for subpar results? Because I knew that skipping one planned workout would be the beginning of a slippery slope.  I knew how easy it would be to tell myself even more excuses for not doing what I’d promised — that I needed to slip in some work, that I’d walked for sightseeing and surely that would count, or that I needed to rest since I’d been so busy before vacation and would pick up the same hectic pace afterward.  And then, before I knew it, everything I’d accomplished would go down the drain, and I’d have to start again.  I also knew that, if it came to that, I might not start again immediately, and maybe not at all.

Doesn’t this ring a bell for business development? It’s easy to lay plans and then to get knocked off-course.  A heavy workload, a sick child or parent, a stinging rejection from a potential client — you’ll always find reasons to pause your business development activity.  But success is composed of small, consistent actions.  How you respond to the reasons and excuses that could justify interrupting your consistently will likely determine your success.

How will you respond to the challenges that present themselves to you? My suggestion is that you power through them, even if it means reducing your activity to respond to the challenges.  Determine what’s an excuse (a long walk to pick up a key, for example) as opposed to a real obstacle (not having the right equipment) and respond accordingly.  When you do, even if you can’t stick to the full plan, you’ll continue moving forward and building a track record of success.

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