Strive For Mastery, Not Perfection

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Recently I was having a conversation with a long-time mentor, coach, and friend.  I was sharing my thoughts on a new endeavor and happened to mention that I was “trying to perfect” the thing I was working on, before attempting to market it.  My mentor stopped me in my tracks and said, “Not perfect.  Don’t focus on perfect, you’ll never get there.  Focus on mastery.  You want to be a master.  No one is perfect, nor will anyone ever become perfect.  But you can become a master.”

While certainly a profound statement, it wasn’t the first time I had heard this.  In fact, I recently went back and re-read one of my favorite books by Seth Godin, Linchpin. For Seth fans, you’ll know that he strongly believes in creating remarkable experiences.  In Linchpin he talks about being an artist.  Making your work, art…and art by definition isn’t perfect.  Some of the most valued art in the world is not “perfect”, instead it was created by a master, and even loved for its flaws.

Mastery is an ongoing journey while perfection suggests you’ve arrived, you’ve made it, you’re done.  What lies after perfection?  What’s left to learn?  What’s left to develop? What’s left to explore?  What’s left to invent?  The world is a timeless collection of things and events that simply prove perfection isn’t possible.  Instead, the world is changing, evolving, reinventing every day, minute, and second.

So with that, I will begin reframe my perspective to focus on mastery rather than perfection.  By accepting mastery as my goal versus perfection, it empowers me to accept life’s fact that there’s always something new to learn and invent.  Will you join me on the journey to mastery?

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A Remarkable Sales Lesson From Yankee Candle

Candle

Yesterday I went into Yankee Candle to purchase some of their awesome selling Balsam and Cedar scented candles.  I had a Buy Two, Get Two Free coupon.  My goal, as always when shopping, is to know exactly what I want, get in, get out, and get home!  I certainly hadn’t expected to get schooled in Sales while buying something as simple as a candle.  But I did.

Immediately upon walking in I was greeted by a very nice, “in-the-Christmas-spirit” sales associate.  She noticed I was a “man on a mission”, and asked what she could do to direct me to what I was looking for.  I told her I had a coupon for the buy 2, get 2 and I specifically wanted Balsam and Cedar candles.  She directed me to “get a basket” and then led me to the display where she then said “you want to buy the large candles with that coupon.”  I told her I was planning on getting the medium size jars.  What she said next hit me like a brick.  In all my sales career this was a first.  Her response was so quick, and so filled with conviction it just completely disarmed me.

She said, “Look…you went to college.  The large jar is $27.99 and the medium is $24.99 but the burn-time difference is 60 hours.  I know you can do the math.”  WOW!  This lady was spot on.  She used my own intelligence against me!  I did go to college and I could do the math.  With that I said yes, and out I walked with 3 Balsam and Cedar candles and a Mountain Lodge (my favorite) for a bit of variety.

On my drive home this experience got me thinking.  This lady’s style and level or persuasion rivaled any C-Suite sales executive I’ve ever dealt with and she was working for Yankee Candle!  While I might be wrong, I’m betting her sales skills were all her and not taught by Yankee.  If I’m incorrect I’d love to know more about their sales training program.

Yankee Candle Lady’s Sales Style:

  1. Smile.  The entire interaction she was smiling and genuinely cheerful.
  2. Recognize and acknowledge body language – “man on a mission”.
  3. Provide subtle direction – “get a basket”.  She’s in control.
  4. Respond accordingly – “follow me”, as she led me to the display.
  5. Know your product and your price points – “you want to buy the large”.
  6. Ready with quick reply to objection – “You went to college…you can do the math”.  Her response is disarming.  She’s challenging my intellect but subtly…and with a smile.
  7. Close the deal – she walks me up to the counter to be cashed out.
  8. Thanks me for coming in.  I wish her a Merry Christmas and she looks at me, still smiling and says “Merry Christmas to you too”.

What a truly unexpected and wonderful experience buying a candle!  Yankee, you’ve got yourself a Raving Fan! What do you think?

Stop Hiding, It’s Time to be Remarkable.

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Long hair, short hair.  Clean shaven, beard.  New York accent, southern drawl.  Short, tall.  Heavy, slim.  Most people think of physical attributes when considering how remarkable they are.  Sure, David Beckham or Kate Beckinsale certainly turn heads but what truly makes you remarkable?  The answer?  It’s what you do and how you do it.

All of us have encountered remarkable people in our lives.  These are the people we remember.  The ones that made a difference.  They are the people that cared enough, shared enough, and gave enough to us that we walked away feeling beyond satisfied, feeling completely fulfilled.

The great author, Seth Godin, was one of the first to raise the concept of remarkable in his book Purple Cow.  Everyone can be remarkable. Few do, but all can. It’s a choice.  The fact is you’re already remarkable, you just need to show it.  We were all born with talent.  Your first job is to be self-aware enough to identify what your talent is and then live it.  Your second job is to understand your current circumstances and determine what actions you can take that will result in someone seeing you as remarkable.

Maybe you don’t want to be cold calling all day but that’s your current circumstance.  Your choice to gear up, toughen up and lighten up will come through your interactions as remarkable instead of choosing to be beaten up.  As inspirational writer John Maxwell says, “Your attitude determines your altitude.”  Not only is he right, but your attitude also determines just how remarkable you are, and can become.

Remarkability is not just about being different, or memorable.  If it were we’d have to include people like Hilter, Hussein, and Nero.  Being remembered is not being remarkable.  Being remarkable is having a positive impact in someones day, week, or life.  While others may define remarkable differently I would simply say that it’s about making others smile, happy, or feel fulfilled.  Perhaps that’s why nurses, pharmacists and fireman always top the list of most trusted professions, because in life’s most critical moments those are the remarkable ones we turn to.

Making the choice to be, act, and do remarkable things is all yours.  The world is waiting…needs you…to be just that – to be remarkable.