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A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 57 - And Then What?

Have you ever played chess? The winner is usually the player that can plot the most moves in advance. At my best, I was good for about 2 to 4 moves ahead when I was at my peak and playing often.

Even today, when assessing positions within the company, I’m apt to refer to “pulling out the chessboard” and strategizing the best moves for staff and for the company.

The great Russian grand master and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov was once asked how many moves he calculated in advance. He replied that three to five moves ahead was pretty normal but, depending on the situation on the chess board, he could think up to twelve or fourteen moves ahead. Remember that each move was dependent on the moves that his opponent might make. Therefore, he could think of twelve or more moves that he would make based on the numerous choices of moves that his opponent would likely make.

If his opponent considered three different moves each time he had a turn, then Mr. Kasparov was planning his next move based on each of his opponent’s choices. He was, therefore, actually thinking about the possibility of perhaps fifty moves.

50 moves ahead. That’s amazing!

You have the ability to think ahead, too. We all do. Do you usually think ahead far enough? In sales and in every other area of your life, thinking ahead is essential for success.

Inexperienced salespeople are used to an unstructured, undisciplined life and chafed against even reasonable rules. Even worse are the ones who think that they are so good that they don’t need to learn anything at all. I am reminded of such a rep, who was so full of himself that much of what was provided to him was cast aside as unimportant. He ignored our system and even though his numbers were never consistent – swinging wildly from high to low, he just didn’t seem to understand that there might be something he could be doing to improve himself. When we developed a new process several years ago, I was challenged at every turn with him on it. “No time”, “not important”, “I’m doing great already”…… Let’s call him John.

I actually remember this conversation quite vividly…so with a little paraphrasing and editing, here’s the gist of it:

John had gone through the new process and told me that he couldn’t see any reason to change the way he was doing things…he was making us money and I needed to leave him alone and let him do it.

I congratulated John on thinking things through and he smiled smugly.

I then asked him, “What will happen next, John?”

He looked a bit stunned, thought for a moment and said, “I’ll get my numbers back up…..” (John was always good on numbers, but rarely consistent…causing problems for labor, placement, etc.)

“Okay, John” I said, “What will happen then?”

Puzzling for a while, he then replied, “You’ll have no choice but to leave me alone and let me do what I do best….”

“So what do you think will happen next, John?” I asked.

“Well, if the leads are there and I can stop worrying about everyone else doing their job, I can keep my numbers up,” he said. (as I said, it never happened that way. John was never consistent)

“Uh huh….So, then what?”

“Well, then you can leave me alone.”

“What do you think will happen after that, John?”

“Well, if my numbers don’t stay up, I guess we’ll be having this conversation again.”

“Then what?”

“I guess you’ll be asking why my numbers are down again and why I’m not following the process…..”

Then, the light came on and John said, “This isn’t going to work, is it?”

I said, “John, I think you’re right.”

For perhaps the first time in this reps time with us, with the deck stacked against him, he thought something all the way through. He arrived at his own conclusion, and rightly decided that running his own way was not going to work.

Two lessons are important here. I didn’t tell John that he was being stupid or that his plan was faulty and therefore didn’t give him more to rebel against. He thought it through without criticism, so it was his own ultimate decision. Secondly, without being judged, he simply was encouraged to think of what would likely happen next, and then what would happen after that.

Fervently do I wish that I had someone asking me that simple question, “What will likely happen next?” at many points in my own life. In sales, in your personal life, in your organization’s strategic plan, is anyone asking, “OK, what’s probably going to happen?” and then, “What will happen after that?” Do you ever ask yourself that question?

Physics teaches us that if you roll a ball on a level floor, it will follow a fairly straight path. Before it reaches the other side of the room, you can see where it is headed. If you don’t want the ball to continue in that direction, you can tap it and send it veering off in a different direction.

Your life is like that. It is amazing how accurately you can predict what is going to happen when you pause long enough to see the patterns. It is also amazing that more people don’t recognize them as they are happening.

Perhaps they don’t always see the big picture. Repeated patterns become the future. The book The Probable Future: You Can Predict It & You Can Change It describes eight patterns that determine how you function as an individual, in your family, in groups to which you belong, and in your work. If you learn to recognize and understand those patterns, then it becomes possible for you to predict the probable future. YOUR probable future.

You can then make choices and decisions based on what will probably happen, and what will likely happen after that. If you apply theprinciples embedded in the patterns, you can not only change your own path, but also influence those around you.

You know I often try to remind you that you need to read, study and expand your perceptions. I heartily recommend this book for you as a very interesting and informative read.

So…the crux of this writing today is this:

Just like for your own self, you can help clients and potential customers look at what will probably happen if they continue on a path without making changes.

You can alter the probable future from what it is going to be to what you want it to be. It’s like tapping a ball rolling on the floor and changing its direction.

Or tapping on the glass to get your attention.

Thanks for reading.