Sometimes You Just Have to Drive

She handed me the keys and said, “Enjoy your trip.”

I stood in front of the counter stupefied…didn’t she know? Didn’t she know I have NEVER driven on the “wrong” side of the road while sitting in the driver’s seat on the “wrong” side of the car?

I stopped her and said, “I haven’t driven in England before, what should I be aware of?” She answered, “You’ll be fine, just always look to the right at the roundabouts.”

We exited the rental car office and hesitantly approached the vehicle. There was a young man standing near and I asked him, “Is there somewhere close where I can practice?”

He laughed and said, “You don’t need practice, just always look to the right at the roundabouts.”

So my husband, daughter, and I got in the car, spent some time familiarizing ourselves with the seatbelts, controls, and setting the gps locator. I took a deep breath and tentatively put the car in gear.

I held my breath, drove very slow, and hit several curbs on the left side as we pulled onto a real road. I quickly understood the warnings about the roundabouts as we faced the first of hundreds of roundabouts we’d encounter on our two-country trip.

I needed the radio off and no one talking to me. I had to concentrate. I had to think about every maneuver… and boy did I have stiff arms and jaw muscles (lots of teeth clenching) when we finally reached our destination.

Ninety minutes later after maneuvering one-car wide roads, some motorway driving where I was supposed to go 80 mph, and a dicey parking situation, my  husband was so frustrated he wanted to take over the driving as he was sure he could do better.

Well, he didn’t do better. He “bumped” as many curbs on the left side of the road as I did. (It sure wasn’t easy to sit in the passenger seat and not be in control during his driving either!) And while I was driving, he didn’t agree that it was better to hit curbs with the wheels than the oncoming cars that looked like they were coming directly in to my lap on very narrow roads. When he was driving, he saw that as a good strategy.

Reflecting on What Worked…and What Didn’t

That night we pondered what we could do better, what was working well, and vowed to not be so scared of the cars coming at us. The second day with more practice, we bumped less curbs.

By day 3, we hit zero curbs and by day 10 (now in Ireland where we were given a much larger vehicle) we were zipping in and out of parking lots, roundabouts, and narrow roads where we or the oncoming vehicle had to pull WAY over to avoid a collision while happily singing along to the radio.

Throughout this journey I kept thinking about what it takes to change course, to be tasked with doing something different when had been comfortable in the way we were doing it.

And that brings me to sales…in sales there are always new things “coming at us” whether it’s a new software which we’re told will make us more efficient once we get used to it, a new territory, new products, a new manager, change in pricing, or a myriad of other changes.

I reflect on a big change years ago when I needed to present to a large group for the first time. I was so nervous. I spent days working on my PPT, figuring out what to wear, practicing, asking anyone who would slow down long enough for advice. Finally one of the managers said, “You just have to go and do your best. Stop practicing or you’ll be too stiff during the presentation.”

She was telling me to “hit the road” basically. Since that presentation “way back when” there have been many more “firsts” I have learned to tackle so I could keep evolving in sales.

The “New” Gets Easier

It’s not always easy to just jump in and do something we aren’t used to, is it? Even if our manager or the IT Department tells us to, “Just do it.” There is a process we must go through to become proficient, let alone comfortable and confident. We need time, practice, support, and guts to just try!

We’ll learn and we’ll get better each time. We’ll become proficient in the “new way” quickly even if we have some bumps and bruises along the way.

So though I had stiff upper arms and a headache from all the focus needed in learning how to “drive on the wrong side of the road.” I was able to do it. And successfully I might add as we had no damage to our car, other cars or to the many pedestrians and wildlife (who knew how many sheep and cattle free to roam in the countryside of Ireland).

Think about it–what do you need to do “in a new way” to be more productive? What, just thinking about it, makes you think “There’s no way I’ll ever be comfortable doing that!”?

Do you need to:

  • Call on more people
  • Sell with higher level prospects
  • Use the CRM differently
  • Bring a team member into a situation
  • Present pricing that is higher than you are comfortable with
  • Discuss a topic that is uncomfortable for you
  • Present to a room full of people

My advice?

Jump in! The first time will be awkward and you’ll experience some bumps. The second time will be a little bit easier. And before you know it you’ll be driving down the sales success path easier and more effectively than ever.

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