A while ago I shared a conference platform with Frank Dick, then UK Athletics coach, who spoke about short vision and long vision. The Olympics and the like are long vision for athletes, years in the distance. Often the big event is front of mind, but not always. Frank said you need short vision too, quick wins that get you up on a cold morning when the big time is a million miles away.
That gig came to mind this week as I was mostly working with highly motivated young professionals, all with an infectious impatience to be all they can be, who were drinking in the skills of the consummate Rainmaker. The nature of the sessions allowed me to throw a huge amount of material at them, but on both days I ended with a cautionary note: pick a few key skills, set your personal goals and don't expect to do everything at once. You will not be the finished article by next Tuesday.
Learning the business development skills that can make you a Rainmaker is possible because are made, not born: that is the good news. But it takes time and effort and patience: that can be bad news in a world where instant results are offered to us at every turn. It's a cliche but this is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience is important as it can be dispiriting to feel your progress is snail-paced rather than bolt-like (Bolt-like: see what I did there?). Biting off more than you can manage, setting crazy expectations of yourself, can lead to you quitting before you get in the groove.
I have reached my half stone weight loss target using my FitBit and now intend to keep going. Another half stone is the goal and I have snuck in a daily work-out of 20 minutes (that's phase two: tone and muscle and all that jazz). It seems doable but there is every chance, had I made my stated aim to lose a stone and run a marathon from the outset, I would have given up after a few apparently unproductive weeks, perhaps with a muscle-pull!
My long vision of half a stone in two months was fine and I took three months to get there, so have no plans to make it an Olympic event. And the short vision? Small wins every day, knowing I was putting more out than in and so moving in the right direction, were motivational. And however personally painful the occasional reminder I had fallen off the wagon after pigging out on tiramisu was, it made me change my behaviour PDQ.
To be that terrific Rainmaker, for your long vision, choose two or three skills you want to improve by the end of the summer, and be specific: joining two good networks, better small talk chit-chat, more follow up telephone calls at the expense of emails. Short term, look for incremental improvements and small wins that happen every day. They keep you throwing the duvet back in the morning and stop you staying in bed eating Pringles.
Some days, usually Saturday, my calorie input matches my output. This is always dispiriting as it's a no-win day. On others I take in 1000 less than goes out, which is nice, very nice. Your business development activity works along very similar lines: Rainmaking is a numbers game.
We don’t habitually do either of these things in everyday conversation; so at the beginning of the coaching relationship, you explain to your client what you’ll be doing to help their thinking along, and make explicit that summarising and reflecting are in the mix.
I often say that it’s going to feel a bit odd for them at the outset, and my experience is that that’s absolutely true. But each and every time clients note how helpful it is ultimately.
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about the author
Russell Wardrop is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.