Sales Coaching Blog

Focusing on the mental game

Posted by Will Kloefkorn

April 4, 2013

 

I am writing this week’s blog with a great deal of humility, some embarrassment, a little shame, and a lot of new found joy. For the better part of the last decade I have been battling chronic right foot and ankle pain that seemed to get worse and worse with each passing day. At times the pain got so severe that getting from the bed to the bathroom was an excruciating challenge. Although I hate to admit it, the pain had gotten so unbearable that it was affecting my personal life, my professional life, and my mental state – at times it brought me to tears. Naturally, having played countless hours of athletics growing up I, along with seemingly every doctor in Nebraska, attributed my pain to physical wear and tear and poor biomechanics. In that spirit I tried every trick in the book to fix my pain during the last ten years: physical therapy, orthotics, constant stretching and icing, chiropractor, weight loss, all the way to foot surgery, but nothing seemed to make my foot better and all the while my bank account kept getting smaller and smaller. Every single doctor that I visited all focused on where the physical pain was coming from - my foot and not a single person suggested the possibility that the pain might not be physical, but mental. Every doctor I visited with was convinced that there had to be a physical reason for why this pain was occurring whether it be my foot’s mechanics, plantar fasciitis, poor diet, poor posture, on and on and on. And to be fair to the doctors nobody else posed this question either, including me.

 

The last doctor I visited happened to be a friend of mine – we have a personal friendship and I trust him and think highly of his professional skills. Being that I was nearly at the end of my proverbial rope I asked Aron, my friend and now doctor, to be completely honest with me about what he thought was happening with my foot; he promised he would. After several visits Aron stayed true to his word and provided me some candid and much needed feedback. What did he find? Nothing - he told me that he had no answer to why my foot was in so much pain, but he did acknowledge that the pain was real. He said that in his professional opinion there was nothing physically wrong with my foot mechanics, my back was fine, and that my diet and posture should have little to no impact on causing they type of pain that I was experiencing. He also felt confident enough to suggest to me that possibly the pain was being mentally induced – a suggestion that I believe would be extremely hard for any doctor to have with their patient, but Aron was just fulfilling the promise I asked of him. Again, being that I was desperately seeking solutions I was open to his suggestion.

 

For years I had been doing google searches hoping to find some answers to the pain I was experiencing, but for years I was only looking to address the physical symptoms. However, this time around I focused my google search on the human mind and mental illnesses rather than ankle pain; it was the best search I ever conducted! As a result of my search I stumbled across a book called The Mindbody Prescription by Dr. John Sarno. This book has changed my life. Although I am fully aware of how cliché and unbelievable my previous sentence sounds it is the absolute truth. By simply reading this book I felt 75% of my pain melt away. In a nutshell what the book helped me discover is that while the pain I was experiencing was real – it was a result of a lack of oxygen being sent to my ankle from my brain. In short, my unconscious brain was sending an intense signal of pain to my foot in order to distract my conscious mind from dealing with whatever fear, anxiety, rage, or any other suppressed emotions I was avoiding … heavy stuff right? If you don’t believe me or if you are simply curious just google “TMS Syndrome” or “The MindBody Prescription” to learn more. Since reading the book I have found countless other resources and best practices that have helped me fix my mental challenge so that I in turn could fix my chronic physical challenge. While it is still hard for me to sometimes come to terms with the fact that my mind had such a powerful impact on my well-being, I have learned to embrace it. I have been pain free for 3 months and haven’t looked back and my mental exercises have flowed over into my professional life.

 

What this experience has taught me is that sometimes we need to fix our mental games before we even try to fix our physical games. How does this apply to sales managers? Well, to me it seems to be in perfect parallel. Sometimes it can be very easy to look at the physical results that our reps are producing and we go right into asking questions about the physical outcomes without trying to learn more about what led to those outcomes.  For example: What is the real reason you are having trouble making more dials this quarter? What is it about success that scares you? Why does closing give you a deep feeling of anxiety? If you can build a relationship that is strong enough to allow you to get the answers to these types of questions the results and engagement will be powerful, but much like it had to be tough for Aron to suggest that my problem might be mental that conversation can be just as hard for a sales manager to have with their rep. Below are 3 best practices that I have incorporated into my personal/professional life that I have found very beneficial.

 

  • Spend 10 minutes in the morning visualizing how you want your day to play out
  • Before every sales call spend 3 minutes replaying a past performance where you were at your best in helping former prospects become clients
  • Spend 10 minutes before going to bed replaying all of the positive moments and emotions you had during your day (this has been a truly gratifying best practice)

 

As you can imagine I have become fascinated by the power of the human mind. I was humbled, embarrassed, and shamed, but am now somehow thankful for experiencing such a painful experience. I have promised myself that I will turn this negative experience into a positive one and I hope to bring a few others along for the ride.

 

Best,

Will Kloefkorn

Director of Business Development

Topics: Best Practice, Engagement, sales coaching, professional development for sales management, Sales Management, ideas for sales leaders

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