In my daily job in the corporate world I spend much of my time recruiting managers and sales professionals from other companies. I recently sat down with a recruiting prospect and we were discussing the differences in our companies. (We’ll call this prospect John, since that’s a unique name and will be easy to narrow down who the subject of this story is.) John is pretty successful at his current company and is one of their top sales performers. He is having difficulty with their operational support, or lack of support. He recently got back from an industry sales conference where many of the countries top producers were sharing success stories and tips on how to increase production. He commented that none of the people on stage mentioned any of the kind of operational difficulties that he was experiencing. He said he was looking forward to getting to that level of production so that he didn’t have to deal with those issues anymore. I was a little surprised by his comment, because I knew these issues didn’t go away just because someone was a top producer. As someone who works for a company that excels in operational support, I knew that he would never actually become a top producer if he was working in a system that had these issues. It’s a subtle distinction, but it makes all the difference in the world when trying to break through to the next level.
John is a smart guy and can make this observation for anyone else, including himself, but he hadn’t seen it yet. He was trying to do the same thing, and simply change external factors around him, instead of changing his perspective from the inside. We all know the definition of insanity (it’s not just for 12-steppers), but most of us find it difficult to see it when we’re the one who’s insane (previous relationship maybe?). When we hit a roadblock we find it difficult to figure out why we aren’t getting where we want (insert lesson about why it’s important to have a mentor here). But what if we just changed our perspective? There are lots of places in our daily lives to do that, but most of them will not lead us the that breakthrough we want. Sometimes we look at how we can work harder as a team or how we can be a better leader. Sometimes we focus on the mechanics of a given task or the timing in which it needs to be done. We like to think it’s something external, something we can fix, but rarely do we look at what we can change inside of us. Let’s use the example of a broken egg from two different perspectives. If an egg is broken from the outside, life ends. If an egg is broken from the inside, life begins. The answer wasn’t found by anything that happened on the outside, that didn’t lead anywhere good, but the real breakthrough happened by focusing effort on what was happening on the inside.