The media industry has always been rife with stress for sales reps and their managers. The highs and lows of selling media can be as fast and furious as a roller coaster. I remember many a day in sales being on top of the world one minute only to be picking myself up off the floor in the next minute.
I am always perplexed when a sales rep talks about pressure. The first excuse I hear when things are not going well is, Sean, youre putting too much pressure on me. Really? I thought I was just asking Mr. or Ms. Sales Rep to do what they were being paid to do. What happens in pressure-cooker situations? Do we choke as they say in sports, or do we find the best performance deep down in our gut?
With the Super Bowl approaching, I am reminded of something a former tight end for the Dallas Cowboys, Jay Novacek, said about pressure. (Jay also happens to be my cousin.) Jay was a favorite target for quarterback Troy Aikman. When the Cowboys went to the Super Bowl in 1992 under Jimmy Johnson, this exchange between reporters was printed in the Houston Chronicle leading up to the game:
Reporter: Being the son of a coach and having brothers who were such great athletes, did that put more pressure on you to succeed?
Novacek: What is pressure? You cant see pressure. You show me pressure.
Reporter: Aw, come on. You feel it in your stomach.
Novacek: Show me pressure.
Reporter: Ill show you some guys EKG or something.
Novacek: Now, thats stress. Pressure does not exist. There are a lot of things you feel, but pressure does not exist.
Reporter: All right, Sunday, the first play, youre out there and there are going to be butterflies, right?
Reporter: What is that?
Novacek: Butterflies. Its like saying there are no problems in the world, there are only challenges.
Reporter: Have you always felt like this?
Novacek: Look, pressure is an excuse. They say, Well, youre going to have a lot of pressure out there. Well, its an excuse. Now you say, OK, there is pressure out there. If I do something wrong, its because of pressure. Its an excuse. Pressure doesnt exist.
Reporter: Youre in the end zone. The ball comes to you. You catch it; its a touchdown. Thats not pressure?
Novacek: No, thats a touchdown.
Jay went on to catch the first touchdown in that years Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills, and I am sure he was feeling no pressure. The Denver Broncos might have benefitted last week from a defensive motivational speech from Jay. Instead, the Broncos lost to the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. The key play of the game for the Ravens was scoring a 70-yard touchdown strike with 31 seconds left in the 4th quarter to tie the game. The Ravens went on to win in double overtime. There were no excuses in that game!
Stress and pressure accompany burnout. Here are a few ways to avoid burnout and mind gaffes throughout the day:
1. Close the door, stop the calls, and get off the email. Filter out the excess noise, and focus only on what is really important. Shutting out the world is a tough thing to do when 30 people, including clients, are pulling in the same direction. Relaxing is recharging.
2. Learn to say no! Otherwise, there might not be enough time to do the job. One of the great sources of stress is not being able to complete anything. Set clear boundaries with people who work around you.
3. Track non-performance time. Most companies measure performance. In addition, measure rest/recovery time. Some people will spend 50 to 60 hours a week on the job. Also calculate how much time is devoted to family. Set weekly goals for the number of dinners to have with family as well as the activities outside of work to accomplish.
4. Practice deep breathing. Many people will feel tired and lethargic when not getting enough oxygen to the brain. Take five minutes twice per day and practice some deep breathing. There is a Chinese adage that says, If you learn how to breathe properly, you will have the courage and strength of 10 tigers.
5. Exercise. As legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, once said, Fatigue makes cowards of us all. Committing to an exercise program can change a persons life forever. Find an exercise program that is enjoyable and do it!
6. Use humor. Humor is the greatest weapon humans possess. According to humorist Mark Twain, it is also the weapon that we use the least. Use humor in voicemail messages, emails with cartoons, and funny lines (keep it clean), or memos to the staff. Nothing so disturbs the center of gravity and relieves stress as a good laugh.
7. Take a nap. That is correct. Take a nap! Some of the top CEOs in Fortune 500 companies attribute 10 to 15 minutes of sleep as the best tool for recharging their bodies during the day.
Time is a finite resource, and we place infinite demands on it. However, everyone has a choice on how to use that time. Prioritize that time to make life less stressful and more enjoyable. No excuses!
Sean Luce is the Head International Instructor for the Luce Performance Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As seen in Radio Ink Headlines January 21, 2013