THE BLOG

Think Like Yoda for Incredible Business Success

03/26/2014 05:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2014
  • Ian Altman Author, 'Upside Down Selling', 'Same Side Selling'

Lessons from Yoda about Incredible Business Success

I was reviewing the profile of a variety of my clients. In most cases, I was proud to see clients realize extraordinary results. In two cases, however, the results were not nearly as impressive as the rest. I was trying to figure out what I was doing differently with those couple of clients that was causing them not to see the same level of success as the others. I'm all about delivering results. In fact, Jack Quarles and I devote an entire chapter to focusing on results for your clients in Chapter 9 in Same Side Selling.

What Was Different?

Each client was doing their "homework." I noticed that for the two client organizations that were not crushing it, their team members would do the homework assignment just in time. I recall mentioning to one of them "It appears that you did the assignment just before I walked in." They jokingly said "No. Not just before you got here. We did it about twenty minutes ago." These companies did what was asked of them and nothing more. They performed the tasks so they could check the box to say they did it. They would explain that they were very busy with other things. This "growing our business stuff" was a lesser priority. They went through the motions, but were waiting for someone to do the work for them.

How About The Top Performers

The top performers, however, take ownership of their responsibility and perform their tasks enthusiastically and ahead of schedule. They internalize what they learn, and challenge the conclusions. The top performers don't make excuses, they set priorities. Quite simply, the major difference is that top performers follow the teaching of Yoda:  "Do or do not... there is no try." For top performing companies, they push the schedule, they are not dragged through a process. They don't fear change, they embrace challenges.

Excuses Are Easy. Change Is Hard

The easiest thing you can do is make excuses for why you "tried" but could not do the work. Your client called you and needed your help.  A family member is sick.  The dog ate your homework. Each of these is a legitimate excuse (ok -- maybe not the last one). The best companies and overachievers deliver results even when other things come up. They excel despite legitimate distractions and excuses. They don't fail because of excuses. They succeed in spite of obstacles.

The hardest thing for you to do, and for your customer to do, is to embrace change. Your customer can simply decide to keep doing things the way they have for years. You can similarly keep doing things the old way.

If you find yourself saying "That's the way we have always done it," then it is time to change.

Instead of asking "Why should we change?" Ask "Why shouldn't we change?"

Instead of saying "It'll never work that way." Ask "Why couldn't it work?"

Embrace change and opportunity, and you might join the ranks of top performing companies. What I discovered is that the results of the incredibly successful companies had little to do with me. Rather, they were going to succeed with or without me. I have just been fortunate to have been invited to join them on the journey.  Each of the companies, including the two with moderate results, is successful by any measure. What it comes down to is that the top companies don't do anything half way. They set their sights on an aggressive target, and then exceed their goals with passion.

May the force be with you.

It's Your Turn

What behavior have you been doing for years that is time to change?