With so much unknown in our future at the moment, many of us are left wondering how we can possibly prepare for uncertainty. We found someone who can help shine some light on the issue.
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About Our Guest:
Director of Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales - The University of Toledo
Deirdre leads sales competitions, works with recruiters and business professionals who seek talent in the college, and arranges and oversees networking events. We sat down with Deirdre to discuss how to prepare to navigate uncertainty, as many professionals and students alike sometimes freeze in the face with an unknown future.
Halie Morris 0:31
Hello everyone, my name is Halie Morris with Everyday Business Solutions.
I’m your podcast coordinator and host. With me today I have Deirdre Jones. She’s from the University of Toledo. It’s super exciting to bring into our podcasts one of the coolest professionals at my old university.
So I’m going to let her go ahead and tell you guys more about herself. Then we’ll jump into our topic for today.
Yeah, no, thank you so much, Halie for being here. Thank you for the introduction, “one of the coolest people”. Hopefully, my course evaluations match up to that. I’ve been here a long time so I’m pretty confident they match up for the most part…
I’m the Director of the Edward H. Schmidt School of Professional Sales in the College of Business and Innovation at the University of Toledo. My job is to help run the sales program. One fun fact about the University of Toledo is that if you take a look at our logo, you see those three little leaves. That stands for our three-part mission of learning, discovery, and outreach. That the three different parts of my job.
The first part is about creating knowledge, making sure that the faculty have the tools and everything that they need to properly do their research. Knowledge creation is what we infuse into our shaping people, which is education, and how we train our students. Also, do training and consulting with the business community.
The second is making connections. It’s about helping our students to make connections with each other and members of the business community on our alumni base. At the end of the day, between creating knowledge and shaping people making connections- we’re all about transforming the profession of sales.
In the middle of all of that, I got to raise money because our sales program is 100% externally funded, so without the time, talent, and treasure of our business partner community that makes everything that we do possible.
So yeah, just excited to be here.
Thank you. That’s a lot of information. That’s really cool. I didn’t know that about the three leaves all my five years at UT and did not know that!
It’s one of those things I wish they would explain to people a little bit more. There’s the meaning behind the logo.
I wonder if they told us during our orientation way back then, but I doubt I retained any of it.
Could have been.
I just know I won a T-shirt that day.
It was a good day!
Then they made me do a pickup line to get to your school ID. I remember I was like “I got nothing!”. Somebody was feeding me a pickup line off to the side. It was kind of funny.
All right. So I got Deirdre on today to talk about the sort of environment we have right now which is a very uncertain, chaotic, and crazy environment. In fact, it’s been several months since it started and we would think we’d have answers. But we don’t.
There are rumors about certain things like vaccines coming out and how schools will be transitioning into winter and spring. But nobody has any idea of what that will actually be. The last whisper about the elementary and high schools was that they might all be transitioning to remote or more of the hybrid learning.
I haven’t heard as much on the college level but obviously, it’s a little up in the air right now. With things being up in the air around us. It means a lot of uncertainty internally. How we deal with these uncertain situations varies from person to person.
So I want to be able to talk about how you can actually start to prepare yourself for uncertain situations at work and at home. Why do we tend to freeze instead of doing something in those situations?
So to start off, I want to ask you, Deirdre, what has been the response since COVID-19 started back in March? What was the response from those around you? So the students, the faculty, and the other professionals that you work with?
Yeah, great question.
One of the unique things about the position that I’m in is I have touchpoints with the students, the alums, the business community, and then also even with my own family.
Just as a side note, my husband and I have been married for 18 years, we’ve been together for well over 20 -23 years. I’ve got a 17-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. So we’re right in the middle of all of this. The reaction at least on the professional side of things was initially where everyone was just in that shell shock mode of “is this actually really happening right now?” Like, “are we really just going completely online? How is this all going to work?”
Personally, anyone who’s ever worked very closely with me knows that I always hope for the best, but I plan for the worst. That’s kind of how my mind works. I’ve had to deal with my own share fair of uncertainties over the years. I do have some mild OCD. The way I look at that is: those are success routines. If you channel it properly, it’s a success routine.
I’m always thinking about, “well, what would happen if this happened,” and so on. Having backup plans is just part of my natural wiring, to begin with. But also, we’ve been doing things online for a number of years with the sales programs anyway. So when this happened, there was a part of me that was like, “Yes, we got this!”. I immediately said, “here’s what we’re gonna do with the classes, here’s how we’re gonna handle roleplays. This is what we’re gonna do with our events and programming.”.
Then there was this other part of me that was absolutely devastated that I had plans because I was like, I was hoping to never use them. You never want to be in that situation. When it actually happens you’re like, “Oh, my God!” It’s like I’m dusting off Chapter One of the Armageddon playbook. “What is this?”
So I was definitely shell shocked and like, “Oh, my God, we’re doing this”. But I went right into action mode. You are thinking to yourself what else you’re gonna do, you can’t just sit there and wallow in it.
With that, the biggest thing is communication and reaching out to everybody. Asking them how they’re doing? Just giving them that reassurance that everything’s gonna be okay. But also saying, “here’s how we’re going to get through this and these are the steps we’re going to take”. For some people, just knowing what to expect makes them feel better because like you mentioned, the uncertainty of things is where panic sets in.
That’s why so many people freeze because they don’t know what to expect. I’m sure today, you know, we’ll talk about how to handle some of that stuff. But it’s the communication part. I was reaching out to the students, my corporate partners, and the faculty team and said “Hey, how are you doing? What are you hearing? What are you seeing right now?” and taking all those puzzle pieces together to get a sense of where my customers were at because ultimately, I know what they need. But how I package it, how I position it, how I communicate it- I need to do it a little bit differently depending on who it is.
Frankly, you’re just going to get what you’re going to get because we’re on a compressed timeline to get some of this stuff done because we had less than a week to transition the classes. And we had a week and a half to transition to big events that we were doing.
So on some of this, it was just a function of how much time you actually have to pivot.
I was gonna say it was a bit better for me at the University of Toledo because I was still in school at this point. So our transition happened over winter break.
Well, that’s great for you.
Yeah, spring break for the students. So we were all out doing whatever. Personally, I have no life, to begin with, so I was at home.
When they’re like, Oh, wait, you’re not going back to a physical class. Then some of my professors were very gracious about it. They said, “okay, this is for right now what we’re gonna do, I’ll solidify more”. Usually, they gave themselves an extra week to transition, but they communicated which made it a lot easier to get things done.
I couldn’t imagine from your standpoint, because it’s not just the classroom that you’re impacted. It’s all these other levels as well.
Yeah. The immediate thought was like, “Alright, we need to take care of the classes,” we need to take care of role plays, we need to take care of the Feté, and the corporate coaching sessions. There was all that stuff that we had a week and a half to sort through.
But then, because my mind is always going a step ahead and thinking: what’s next? I’m sitting here thinking, What’s going to happen with my students and their summer internships? What’s going to happen with the ones that are graduating this may and their jobs are going to start? How are we going to handle graduation? I know graduations not even for a while but then you start to think through what’s the domino effect on all of these things?
I know that’s what’s going through my customer’s head. That’s what that student is worried about. And it’s like, yeah, I’m trying to get the student set. Telling them they have their role play next week, we got the feté coming up, etc.
But the other thing that’s going through their head is, “that’s great Deirdre, but I’m still wondering what’s happening with my internship this summer,” or “what’s going to happen with my full-time job placement,”.
Even the ones that didn’t graduate for another year. They were worried and I knew what was going through their head. Same with the companies I was dealing with. Some companies decided to still do their internships, for the most part, they pivoted their internships and made it like a modified version. Maybe it was shorter, maybe they were more online, all online, or it turned into more of like a remote project versus a hands-on, let’s get in with the customer sort of situation.
Then there were others who threw their hands up and they said, “I’m tapping out”, we’re just going to have to cancel the internship this summer. There were a variety of reasons why some of them threw their hands up and maybe I shouldn’t have said, “throw their hands up” because it was a let’s throw our hands up.
In other cases, based on how they went to the market and how they interacted with their customers, there really weren’t any other viable options at that particular stage of the game. I know myself and our corporate partners and the other organizations we deal with. We were so appreciative and thankful for how well our students handled this situation. Whether their internship was canceled, rescheduled, modified, or continued as is- the students were very understanding about what was going on.
They knew that every organization is different. Every organization handles its salesforce and how that sales force interacts with the customer. There’s differences. Some organizations, just by nature of how they go to business, we’re in a better position to handle it.
In other cases, seeing the pivots of the different organizations we partner with and what they had to do was interesting because that was part of my outreach throughout the rest of the spring/summer is to talk about how your business is doing and how your sales team is doing? How are you onboarding? How are you training? How are you coaching? Asking those questions and then just listening to what they were doing.
There were so many inspirational stories and things that happened over the course of the spring and the summer. The thing is, we were all dealing with that uncertainty, right? What’s going to happen and what do we do. But people were focusing on what can I do because if you start to think about the things you can’t do and the thing is you don’t have and the things outside your control, that’s where you’re going to drive yourself mad and get really depressed.
Here’s the thing, if you can’t control it, you can’t control it. Focus on what you can control. When there’s information that you don’t know, identify it, reconcile yourself with it, and then figure out how you’re going to get those pieces of information.
But I mean it was so cool seeing our partners, we’ve got alarms in the fire safety division over with Hilti. Seeing how they were taking their firestop sleeve. Normally you would use it for fire safety reasons in a building and then all of a sudden, they discover and they’re pivoting. They’re helping healthcare because you can use that same airtight sleeve to send tubing and electrical wires through so that you can have a ventilator in the room with the Covid patient where you would have the key part of it in there with the patient. But then you can have all that monitoring stuff in the hallway.
So the medical professionals can safely monitor that patient. You know, that’s I mean, that’s innovation. That’s resiliency, that’s pivoting. We saw plenty of other stories like that throughout the course of the spring and summer of our alums and the businesses that we work with pivoting and making changes.
What’s meant to be is meant to be on some level. It’s important that you focus on the things that you can control. I saw some great stuff that talked about this being a time of becoming. Anything that you’re going to have to lose or pause on, let it happen. If it was worthwhile, if it was something that you really needed long term then you’re going to be in a spot to pick it back up again later. If you don’t pick it back up again later. That’s what was meant to be.
Not everything’s going to last forever or be with you forever. There’s a grieving process with that but focus on what you’re going to become. That’s where the real growth happens. Where the real exciting stuff takes place.
It’s true though we have seen a lot of changes that were already occurring come to the past are starting to come into effect a lot more quickly this year. Some of the things that we’re seeing such as the dividers and stuff like that…we know those are going to be temporary. They’re going to be temporary because we aren’t to the point where we’re living in plastic bubbles and some people are going to Mars. And I hope we don’t get to that point in my lifetime.
I’m also a huge fan of following the climate activists right now. So we are where we are. It’s true because I know for me, it was picking up things I hadn’t done in a while. Like writing. Then realizing some other things that I was trying to get into weren’t really my taste because suddenly my priorities were different.
I really had to be intentional about them. I was lucky because work did not stop for me, the school didn’t stop for me. I still had things going on but I had to help with other things I hadn’t before. You know, my sister was home from school and she had more sporadic assignments back in the spring and now she is on a virtual schedule at home. My parents were both home, while one home. One was 1/5 people at his job and a really large building.
But it was this idea that priorities were shifted and kind of going off of that, a question I have for you is: how do you prioritize when you have what seems like a million things going on? On top of that, a huge shift occurs? Like when this happened to you, you had a lot going on. So how do you actually go in and identify priorities In a situation like that? It’s so overwhelming.
Deirdre Jones 15:32
Yeah, it’s this constant priority reevaluation.
On top of everything that was going on, my kids had to work remotely. I feel very fortunate and blessed. When this happened, my children were 17 and 14. So junior high and high school. When technically they were 13 and 16 at the moment but, I didn’t have to worry about sitting there with my kids at the kitchen table, helping them with their homework. They’re Self-sufficient.
I consider myself very fortunate and blessed in that respect. My kids still needed me. My husband is an essential worker in an essential industry. So for him, life was still going on. He was still going to work every day. Everything was still relatively normal for him. Other than the fact there was a lot less traffic for him to deal with getting back and forth to work. So it’s hard when it comes to that prioritization and the thing is setting priorities. That is at least part of my everyday life.
I have always subscribed to a level of prioritization that can come across to some people as pretty cold-blooded. I look at what’s closest to the money. That’s how I make my decisions. When I say what’s closest to the money, especially from a sales perspective, it’s the furthest along in the sales cycle and the sales funnel and taking care of those things.
Just because something is getting ready to close, and you’re getting ready to get that business, you also need to take care of your existing customer base. I also highly prioritize things like servicing my customers and not just general service, but servicing because they’re getting ready to implement or do something. I have to be a woman of my word and follow through to make sure that whatever I sold them, they’re in fact going to be able to get it, receive it, and have it be the way that they were thinking and hoping and with the impact that they would want.
So when everything happened, we had literally a couple of days of classes, and then a week and a half of the events. It was like, “okay classes first,” because we got to make sure the classes get taken care of. As soon as I get them taken care of, I’m pivoting immediately to the events.
The very first thing that I did is I communicated with folks to let them know my priorities. This is what’s going to go on and here’s how we’re going to get through it. Looking back, it’s the team that felt so much more at ease and know what’s going to happen. Once again, it’s that fear of the unknown that’s scary.
Frankly, it’s not like I knew it was going to happen precisely. I don’t have a crystal ball. There are times where I spent a lot of time talking with other leaders during the pandemic. What amazes me is who’s helping the leaders? Who’s telling the leaders that life is going to be okay and what to expect?
In some cases, there are folks comforting and helping the leader. But in other cases, there’s not. When I say leader, it’s referring to people in formal leadership positions but also in regular type positions. I think there’s a lot of leadership that everyone can take. There’s no playbook for a number of things in life, you just need to figure it out. Take that step back. So when I’m looking to set up my priorities, it’s taking that step back and take a breather.
If you need to walk away from your computer or take a lap around, run around the neighborhood for a little bit. Get a run in or go on your Elliptical and get a run in. Whatever you need to do to clear your head. Take that step back and be like, “Okay, what do I need to do?” Sometimes it’s just a matter of like, five minutes. You don’t necessarily need to go and be gone for like 30 minutes or an hour. But just enough to figure up the key priorities?
Then what are the timelines that I’m operating in to get some of this stuff done? Certain things because of the timeline, you just have to move it up the pecking order. As much as I would like to respond to every single person every single time and just make some of those, what some people might perceive as “cold-blooded decisions”. It’s no.
Here are the priorities and here’s what we’re working on. That hasn’t changed. I understand you would like an update, but this hasn’t changed. I have no new update for you. I need to continue to focus on getting this stuff done because I know how much you need these things to get done with your classes. You know, find things you know and make your connections for events and stuff. That’s the priority.
Sometimes you get to a point where it’s like, you want to make so many people happy. You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. But other people also need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. A lot of times people worry about how other people are going to think or perceive them. People need to take more responsibility for their own emotions. To cope and to handle some of this stuff.
Unfortunately, learning how to deal with uncertainty, it’s a skill. It’s something that you can learn. Some people weren’t necessarily given the best tools on how to deal with uncertainty. That was painfully obvious during this pandemic.
Oh, I would agree. You can’t hold everybody’s hand.
I always say that if you’re creating marketing materials or support materials, you want to assume that somebody is going to have a question for anything that could have an answer, even if it’s small.
But when it’s a relationship type thing, if somebody you work with or that’s been with you, you can’t always give them that boost. Then they don’t know how to make themselves. That’s probably why they’re asking you.
I’ve had to do an onboarding virtually over the phone with no video before. For somebody who hadn’t been on the computer in probably a couple of years, if not more. She didn’t need it.
She was like, “I can’t do it”. I said to her “yes you can, yes you can”. You kind of have to do that because you have to get them to start working for us. Her perk was that she started doing it early because she knew she wasn’t as adept at it.
If she had come in person, I would have had to juggle my attention between her and six other people. Since she called me and I didn’t get a visual of what she was doing it was hard but luckily I knew the system. I could actually give her one on one attention.
The difference here is that she took ownership.
She took that extra step
Reality is reality. If you know that you are not ready, if you’re confused about something, or there’s a skill set gap -acknowledge it, right? Don’t pass the buck, don’t point a finger of blame. Just acknowledge it. Then figure out how we can fix this? How do we move forward?
If you’re focusing on a problem change that to focusing on the solution. Then when you focus on the solution, still think the big picture, right? How can we prevent this problem from happening again? I like to do more root cause stuff, I tend to think some people might perceive it as working slower because I’m more into the root cause.
But in other cases, some people can perceive it as I’m going too fast because they see where I’m going. They’re like, “Oh, Lord, buckle up, she’s really trying to fix it”. I’m like, “yeah, buckle up. Because I don’t want to deal with this again,” Why make the same mistake twice? Doesn’t matter who made the mistake or why this happened because, once again, sometimes things are unavoidable
But you know, it’s like, I don’t want to deal with this again, you know, there’s no reason to deal with this again. So let’s just be proactive about it and solve what we can at the onset with proper planning.
My mindsets have always been “This situation sucks, but what am I going to do about it?” While some people say “that sucks, what is somebody gonna do about it?” They’re waiting for it to work itself out.
I’ve always been a doer, where if I don’t like something or I want something, I’m kind of a victim of this generation. I like instant gratification. The perk is I go out and get it or I go out and I change it. “You’re buying something new for the house?” “Oh, that’s really cool. What are you gonna do with it?”
I’ve lived in a crowded house before I don’t like living in a crowded, dirty house. My dad thinks otherwise. Because my room is not quite put away sometimes. It’s like two minutes away from it at any given time, if not put together.
Yeah. The thing is, you’ve got to be a do-er because figuring out what needs to happen next is usually where a lot of people freeze and get caught up.
“I don’t know what to do next”.
There are no playbooks when you’re creating marketing materials for something that’s a brand new product line or a new vertical market. It doesn’t exist yet. There was no how-to book.
Despite all of my planning on stuff, yeah, I was ready for a number of things online, but even I don’t have a pandemic playbook. So you have to figure it out. Take the step back.
I got to figure out how to do this. What’s the right way to communicate? There’s value in thinking and I know there’s not enough value people put on this critical thinking process.
What’s my next step going to be? Here’s my goal? What are my steps? Well, first off with your goal, here’s my goal. Why is this my goal? What’s in it for me? What’s in it for my customers and everyone else in my circle and beyond my circle? Then how am I going to get there?
But just spend that time thinking through it. If this then that. Put the decision tree together. Pro-con it. Just think through it and sometimes you might handwrite stuff out, whiteboard it out, or get an Excel sheet or a Word document going right.
The thing is, you need to collect the information and then you need to bounce the ideas off of people. Call, email, text, pop into someone’s office. That’s the whole process. That’s critical thinking. That’s the initiative.
When you take control of the situation because you can take control by organizing your notes, organizing your thoughts, organizing your team, and your resources, that makes you confident, which makes you feel less uncertain.
Because the more knowledge you get and the more resources you realize you have, you start to feel comfortable. You start to feel confident and things that might have seemed fuzzy, uncertain, or a little scary, they’re starting to come into focus more.
You’re like, “Oh, yeah, I got this! We’re gonna figure this out! I feel like we’re so close.”
Because you’re taking the initiative. That’s critical thinking. It’s so key because it gets frustrating when someone says, “just tell me what to do. I’ll do it”
It’s like, why do you think certain people can lose their jobs or certain things can be outsourced? Because if there’s already a playbook, then that means it can be replaced.
That’s the beauty of humans, our ability to think critically, and with these artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s only as smart as we make it. We’re the master. We’re telling it what to do.
It’s maddening sometimes, because I’m one of those people with a high locus of control, but it’s like, just figure it out! Take the step back and I do.
I feel bad for some people. I was blessed. Both my parents were fantastic, great parents. They were both educators.
The education K through 12 sectors hasn’t necessarily done the best job at teaching critical thinking, because, unfortunately, sometimes the failure, it’s such a controlled failure.
Kids in school are so set up for success that any failure is fleeting, or it’s such a minor fail. Sometimes you get these students that have this false sense of security and a false sense of how good they are or they don’t know how to really fail or mess up.
Maybe the K through 12 did an okay job, but mom and/or dad, or whatever your family unit structure is, you didn’t want them to feel sad or scared. You initially did it from a place of love, but frankly, you love your child more when you let them fail.
It’s important for them because that’s a life skill. People need to learn how to fail. They need to learn how to deal with uncertainty and navigate that feeling of disappointment because that’s how they’re never going to do it again.
If you want to keep bailing them out for the rest of their life and if you had parents that didn’t do the best job and they helicoptered or lawn mowered too much to fix things. If you were in a K through 12 situation that wasn’t the best, I feel bad for you.
Those of you that are parents, for the love of God, let your kids fail.
Literally, we were talking earlier, my son wanted to make garlic bread the way that I make garlic bread and it involves using the broiler.
In my house, I use the dishwasher. I hate hand washing things. So we use parchment paper and I could see it happening. He used parchment paper and it curled up. He didn’t open the oven all the way. He didn’t have the rack lowered.
I could tell that the parchment paper was going to touch the top of the boiler and I just thought it’s gonna catch fire. I knew it.
Had I trained him the right way to do it? Of course I had.
It was like watching in slow motion. I’m like, “Okay, I’m just gonna stay in the kitchen and we’ll see how this happens. Sure enough, he pulls it out the wrong way and it catches on fire.
Not crazy fire, but enough. There’s a good flame going and he’s standing there frozen. He’s looking at me and I’m looking right back at him.
I’m like, “why do you think that happened?” and he’s the customer. Do you know? “I just don’t know how to fix it.”
How do you think you should fix it? I’m literally having this conversation with my teenager. How do you think you should fix it? He’s holding the flaming tray.
It’s so much better for this to happen now because I can coach him through it. I can let him critically think, “Hey, you’re a boy scout. What happens with fire? What is fire?”
As soon as I said, “You’re a Boy Scout,” he’s just like, “Oh, yeah.”
So he grabbed the hand towel that was nearby and he covered it. It was done, but he figured it out. He solved it.
I could have done it. That would have solved an immediate thing, but it wouldn’t have made him realize what he had done wrong. Because I guarantee you, he’s never going to make that mistake again.
If you’re going to have something like that, better to have it here where I can at least watch from a distance. If it comes completely off the rails, I can step in, but at least I know he’s not going to catch something on fire when he goes to move out somewhere else down the road.
Just let it happen. It’s going to be okay, because right now anything that a kid’s gonna mess up on while they’re still at home with their parents, or their family unit, or they’re in the K through 12 sectors. The vast majority of things that they’re going to fail on, it’s not fatal. It’s little stuff and it might feel like a big thing at the time.
It’ll work, it’ll be fine. It’ll be the way I deal with so much end product and my job with students, and then the alumni base, I deal with so much and product, it is completely impacted the way I teach. It’s completely impacted the way I parent.
When you see it, you realize the importance of letting people fail the right way, taking that step back, you know, and asking questions back to people to say, Well, how do you know what are some of the thoughts you have, right? Because nobody wants to spell it out for you. You got hired to do that job. So do that job.
Instead of saying, “Well tell me what to do and I’ll do it,” come up with some ideas that are different. Do the background research and the critical thinking stuff I mentioned and come up with ideas.
Then go back to your manager, your boss, your team, your family, and say, “Hey, I did some thinking. I did some research. Here are some ideas that I have. These are the pros and cons I see. Fundamentally, I’m gravitating towards this as the route we should go, and here’s why. What do you think?”
That is a much different conversation than tell me what to do. Plus, you’re going to feel better in the process because you were taking ownership. You did the research. You’re feeling more confident, because things that initially seemed uncertain and scary, they’re not anymore. You took ownership and you took that ownership in the initiative to learn more.
Oh my gosh, the story of your son.
This is something where I’m so big on this.
Yeah, I love that story. My brother blew up a microwave when he was younger with a spiderman watch so now he definitely learned after that not to put random things in the microwave.
My mom learned to watch her kid when he was alone in the kitchen. Because I think he was probably like six or seven at that time.
Alright, my last question for you is, for somebody who has gotten to this point whether they’re in college or out of college, they’re in the professional environment.
They’re listening to this episode and they say, “I think I might be that person who isn’t used to stepping outside my comfort zone or making my own decisions in weird situations,” like they don’t know how to think as well as they want.
What are some things that they can do to make themselves comfortable with uncomfortable situations comfortable with acting and being the doers instead of being that follower all the time?
That is a great question. So one of the things that I encourage folks to do is the “courage to build confidence log”. I would encourage folks to come up with a goal. Right? It could be a professional goal, it could be a personal goal point, have a goal. Write it down and have it be a SMART goal which means it’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and tied to time.
The next thing I want folks to do is to think about what I need to do next to get a little bit closer to that goal, right? Even if it’s just a little baby step. Think about what’s going to get you just a little bit outside of your comfort zone to get to that goal. Sometimes it can feel like you’re going to boil the ocean, right?
Like you want that dream job or you’ve got a larger weight loss goal or you’ve got this massive project at work, and you just don’t know where to start. Spend that time reflecting but then pick a starting point.
If you completely don’t know where to start, step number one is to find a mentor. Find someone who has been through this before. Step one might be like, I need to do some background research, I need to go on LinkedIn or I need to do some Google searches online or I need to pick up the phone and talk to some people in my personal network on my professional network to find out who can help me.
Then once you have your list of suspects to speak to, then you go through and come up with the questions you want to ask them. People might start to realize “well, I don’t want to pick up the phone, or what if people see that I’m creeping on their LinkedIn profile?”
Recognize that you’re getting outside your comfort zone with those things. Make a timeline for either this week or today because everyone’s operating on different timelines. But at least once a week get a tiny bit outside of your comfort zone.
If that tiny bit outside of your comfort zone is, “I’m gonna go all-in on LinkedIn and if people see that I’m creeping on their profile, so be it”. By the way, what a great conversation starter it is when someone says, “I know you on my LinkedIn profile, why?” Well, I’ve got this project coming up and you were someone that came up in a search, and I thought you might be able to give me some insights.
People love to teach so what a great conversation starter. Just do something a little bit every week to get outside your comfort zone and to document that. The more you critically think through “what are my steps? When do I need to talk? Who do I need to talk to? What am I going to do next?” This will slowly start to become more evident to you.
Then because you were documenting how you got outside of your comfort zone a little bit every week. For some people, they have anxiety over using the phone because they’re so used to using the phone for like, you know, entertainment purposes, they’re not used to using the phone for “work type purposes” or “coming of age purposes”.
There’s a certain amount of anxiety on that so recognize that because then over time, you’re going to realize “wow, I got outside my comfort zone just a little bit to make myself a little vulnerable for people to see that I was on their LinkedIn” Or “I use the phone that I had, I did like five different exploratory calls this week to learn more about people in their jobs or projects that they were working on and I was asking questions and I felt like maybe was a dumb question. But once again, I made myself vulnerable by asking a question that to them might have seemed common sense, but to me, I really didn’t know. So I wanted to ask that question. Because I needed to know what the answer was”.
Once you start to see that pattern of yourself over time, you start to get pretty proud of yourself. And you’re like, “you know what, I am good about getting outside my comfort zone because I learned how to do these things, I pushed myself”. Over time, those little bits of courage that you took every week, or every day, that’s going to build up your confidence to deal with things.
So that’s the starting point that I would recommend for people to use to just, you know, get themselves a little bit closer to where they want to be.
Thank you. That’s really helpful.
In some ways, I feel a lot more comfortable but in other ways, I feel like I am for the most part of do-er. Having those little tidbits, especially when there’s something I’m super excited for I tend to get shy of it.
I am that person who’s scared to talk on the phone, even though I love to talk. If it’s not scheduled and they don’t know I’m calling I will be like “Oh, my God”.
I’ve dealt with these things. I’ve dealt with imposter syndrome myself. I still have imposter syndrome. I’m not super confident all the time about stuff. Something you build up over time and you become confident because you failed before and you’re not going to make the same mistake twice.
That’s where some of that confidence comes from. Part of why I’m confident is because I have messed up. And I know it’s not going to happen again because I now know how to be more proactive, how to phrase things the right way, how to communicate more effectively, or how to organize things better.
So, I humble myself as I asked other people “what works for you”. Or in other cases, I love asking people “what would you do again”, also “what would you not do again and why?”
When we were designing our Huntington Sales Lab, I loved asking those questions. I learned so much from other people’s failures. The thing is good mentors and good people, they will tell you how they failed and what they learned.
I mean, I have a failure resume myself. You know, my husband wonders why it’s only one page. There’s stuff I’ve messed up on and I’ve choked before. I’ve blanked before or I haven’t thought things through all the way before, on certain things, it happens, but never again.
To that point, when people think of you, they don’t think of all those mistakes, even though you’ve made them and you’ve taken that chance, it’s what you did after. It’s what you learned. Then saying, “Okay, let’s do it again, but actually, let’s do it this way.
That makes the difference.
All right. Well, I think this is a fantastic place to wrap up our episode. So do you have any advice or any additional advice that you would like to leave our listeners before we sign off?
Trust yourself. Have more confidence in yourself. You who are capable of more than what you might realize you’re capable of and your future self is going to thank you.
All right, well thank you, Deirdre. We will go ahead and leave it at that today. Thank you everyone for tuning in.
As a reminder, we’re going to transcribe this entire episode for you. So if you’re listening and you’d like to read it, you can hop on over and do that. You can also find any of the contact information that Deirdre wishes to give right there in that post if you have any questions, you can always leave them with my team.
Thank you and have a great rest of your day.