If I could buy a billboard and put one thing on it, it would be this: “Don’t Focus on Results”
With so much in this world that we can’t control, why do we put so much emphasis just on the end product?
What do I mean by being too focused on results? Here are the kinds of self-defeating, results-focused statements I hear from people in different areas of my life that give me pause.
Kung-fu: When am I going to test again and move on to some new technique?
Poker: I lost that hand because that guy got lucky, screw him!
Sales: I didn’t hit my sales goal, the leads are bad.
Digital marketing: I am not getting enough leads from my website.
Notice the recurring theme here?
All of these are observations of results the person cannot control and are terrible metrics to judge self-worth by; instead, give your attention to the one thing you can control: your effort.
So, let’s break it down for each of those areas and look out how being too worried about the end result can hurt your progress overall.
KUNG-FU (or whatever hobby is relevant to you)
Teddy Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” If you don’t love the work and only want the new shiny thing, you should find something else to do, something where you have no problem putting in the work to constantly improve. Learn to enjoy being a student and the journey of constantly deepening your understanding of a new skill. If you’re only worried about being able to put the next notch in your belt, you’re going to miss out on the satisfaction of putting in effort to refine your ability.
I love to take deep dives into the things I am working on, as well as reviewing old material to better my kung-fu in general. It is especially important here to always be a student. It is when you think you have it all figured out, that you get complacent and you stop being coachable.
I have seen poker players go on downswings that impact their confident and will cause people to quit the game completely. You can play a hand 100% correct and still lose the pot. I have seen hands where there was one card in the entire deck that make the difference between winning and losing. You can’t make the cards do what you want, and you can’t change the way you play because you got unlucky in a hand.
The overlap between poker and sales is huge. The biggest difference is that you have to substitute the term “pipeline” for the term “bankroll.” If you only have $200 to play with and you are playing at a table where the buy-in is $200, you are going to be very uncomfortable the whole time and when you get unlucky (which is going to happen), it is going to be crushing to your bankroll and your confidence.
But what if you sat at a $10 buy-in table? Then, if someone got lucky against you, who cares? Losing is part of the game, that is why it is called gambling. I will see players who get so irritated when they get unlucky that they will coach the beginner players at the table. This is a sure sign that you are too attached to winning a hand. You don’t want bad players to play better, you just want them to not get lucky against you.
In sales, you have no control over if a client says yes or no. You do have control over how you spend your time, how you target your potential clients, and if you are on top of your follow-ups and next steps.
Focus on the activities that lead to business and make sure you are doing enough of those behaviors that it doesn’t matter if you don’t win a single job, because you have 25 other sales opportunities in your pipeline.
If you don’t manage and keep your pipeline full of people, every conversation you have becomes a precious event, and you walk on eggshells during the entire conversation. With a full pipeline from continuous effort, you can go in there with guns confidently blazing and qualify them to see if they are a fit to work with you. This is the biggest difference between people who crush sales targets and people who don’t.
No first version of a website converts at a high level; no pay-per-click ad crushes expectations on the first run. That is why it is important to establish baselines and then test small improvements to see what causes increases in conversions.
Try multiple versions, and be ready to make changes and make improvements. If no one is clicking on your contact page, make some guesses as to why that is and try to solve it. Did you draw enough attention to the fact that you wanted them to contact you?
Make sure you are asking for the things you want and then work to reduce the friction of the ask. If you want someone to contact you and the form has 15 required fields, you won’t get many responses. By tweaking your attention from “nobody’s contacting me” to “how can I improve the way people reach me so they can contact me,” you remove the mental roadblock of thinking you’ve failed and focus instead on how to continue to improve.
No matter what you are working on or passionate about there is a lot of room to get focused on the results only. You have to be aware of the results in order to adjust, but if you are placing your personal value into these results you will suffer from a lot of highs and lows. Keep the mindset of being focused on improving and you’ll be able to get more done and avoid fluctuations in self worth.
So, what are you working on right now that is giving you problems?
What are your goals? Hopefully, you have set some and have someone keeping you accountable for them.
What is the part that you have complete control over that you can manipulate to have better results?