How to Connect With Potential Clients

The challenge of ‘connecting with potential clients’ reminds me of when my friend James once said to me:

“John: Your solution is the problem.”

I don’t remember what it was about when he said it, but the concept stuck with me and I see it often now.

In this situation though…

The desire is to grow your business.
The challenge is that you need more clients.
The solution is to connect with potential clients.
The problem is that you find it difficult or don’t know how.

What I am suggesting is that the problem of you finding it difficult or not knowing how to connect with people arises because your solution is, specifically, to connect with ‘potential clients’.

You are putting your desire to have more clients and your desire to grow your business inside the act of connecting with people.

Having self-interest as part of your intention while connecting with human beings makes connecting more difficult.

In other words…

Your ability to connect with human beings is inversely proportional to your desire to acquire from them. 

When you are trying to ‘connect with potential clients’, you are inadvertently carrying a desire to acquire and thus making it difficult for yourself.

You may post rationalise this difficulty as ‘not knowing how to do it’ or ‘having fear’, but really this is BS.

You already know how to connect with people and you do it well when there is nothing you want from them.

A metaphor I like that has me completely disconnect from any desire to acquire when connecting is to think of it as untangling and repairing an old box of Christmas lights (fairy lights).

When I think about who I want to reach out to, I like to think of it as looking for the next knot to untangle in the fairy lights. I’m just exploring. Just looking for the easiest NEXT place to loosen things up.

When I connect or re-connect with someone, I like to think of it as pulling out an old bulb and replacing it with a new one.

I keep doing this until every knot has come loose and every person on the string is lit up – until every relationship is glowing.

The light of these now active connections provides me with a whole new perspective. Just like a string of lights does, having that many relationships active in my life at one time also gives me a magical feeling.

Being connected creates a deep sense of wholeness.

Finally, with all that new light, I am better able to see where and how I can serve.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • Where are you making it difficult to connect with people because you are doing it with a specific intention in mind?
  • Are you willing to just plug bulbs in – are you willing to connect just for the sake of connection?

Be the Creator of Nothing

A few weeks ago I posted a video titled ‘Be the Creator of Everything’.

This is a way of being that I absolutely love. It is incredibly empowering and when I see the world in this way, the experience of crafting my life feels as blissful as painting or writing a song.

In a Facebook comment on this video, my friend Phil challenged me that it was a dangerous idea to think we make it rain; something that I had claimed to create.

I stopped myself from going down the philosophical tangent as to how – through a systemic, non-separate worldview, one could argue that I did make it rain – and instead considered the true essence of what he was saying.

Essentially, this was that believing we create everything can lead to an inflated ego. He rightfully pointed out that this is something we see a lot of in the ‘spiritual’ and ‘self help’ worlds.

Though I reminded Phil this is why I called ‘being the creator of everything’ a ‘delusion’, in hindsight, I did not focus enough on how important knowing this is a delusion is.

To explain, let me share another way of seeing the world that I equally value – being the creator of nothing.

When I sit in silent meditation or when I am alone in nature is when I experience this as most true.  In these moments, I begin to witness how everything on the outside world and the inside world is essentially happening all by itself.  When I sit long enough, I notice that even my thoughts are not something I am doing, but something that is happening to me.

With this way of experiencing reality – being the creator of nothing and instead simply being a guy along for the ride of a universe unfolding around me and inside my head – my attachment to outcome falls away.

Remembering this experience during my day-to-day living, I can then at any time choose the delusion that I am the creator of nothing. 

By being the creator of nothing, I create an unmatched experience of freedom.

Ironically, it is from this place of freedom – a freedom arising from a delusion – that I am then most likely to, once again, choose the delusion that I am the creator of everything. 

Like sitting down at a canvas or picking up a guitar, inside this new delusion, I then go on to craft something new in my life.

It is getting stuck somewhere in the middle of these two delusions that makes life difficult for me.

And it is swinging between them that makes it fun.

 

Coaching vs Therapy – What’s the Difference?

About ten years ago, when I was just getting started as a property developer, my SUV was making a clunking sound and there was some hesitation in acceleration.

I remember meeting Bobby, the mechanic. When we shook hands, his grip was tight and large around my hand. He asked me about my car’s history.

“What happened? When did it start? What makes it worse?” 

As I looked at Bobby in his faded Boston Red Sox cap, I told him about my problem and what I remembered from the past. I could see in his eyes that he was beginning to understand. He was seeing clues as to what caused the disorder in my car.

We took it for a drive. He wanted to see the problem in action. When we pulled back into his shop parking lot, I knew he’d cracked the case. Bobby told me it had to do with the transmission and would cost $1200 to fix. I smiled, nodding gently and then told him I wanted to get a second opinion.

I didn’t really want a second opinion. I knew he was right. What I was really thinking was, “Shit, I can’t afford that right now”.  All my money had  gone into a new project and I was running on fumes.

At the time, I had just gotten a ‘construction loan’ to buy a piece of land and build a house to sell. All the permits and lawyer fees to make it happen had drained my bank account.

Leaving Bobby’s shop, I drove out to the land for my next meeting. Jack, the carpenter, was sat in his pickup truck waiting for me.

He too was wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap. It was bit less faded than Bobby’s. Jack stepped from the truck and stretched out his hand. As I reached mine to meet it, I saw it was thick and strong like Bobby’s was.

Jack spoke loudly like Bobby did. He asked me about what I wanted to build.

“How big do you want it? What do you want it to look like? When do you want it built by?”

Through speaking with Jack, he and I both became more and more clear about my vision for the house I would build there. As we discussed what it would actually take for an entire house to be created, I got more and more clear of what it would require of me. I began to understand what I would need to invest financially, time-wise and energy-wise. I got that this was going to be a real commitment and that it was going to be a lot of work. I could also viscerally feel that it would be a real risk as to whether I’d profit from this. I’d already spent most of my money, was taking on debt and the market was peaking. I was scared, but I was also excited.

Fast forward six months…

On a blue sky afternoon of a cool day in October, I walked out of my lawyer’s office carrying a $104,000 check in my hand and a lightness in my chest. In my mind, I looked back on all the days of meeting people at the land and how the house that now stood strong there had come together, literally, piece by piece.

From there, I went straight to the bank and made my largest ever deposit. When I pulled back out into the street, my SUV coughed and made a grinding noise.

I thought about how it had gotten progressively worse over the past six months, but how since I was so focused on building the house, I hadn’t let it bother me. I had essentially just ignored the problem with my car.

However, I didn’t need the problem anymore. Still not even fully up to speed, I checked my mirror, braked and pulled directly into the next parking lot – a BMW dealership.

They said they’d give me just $3K for trading in my SUV since it needed a new transmission.

“Deal,” I said.

An hour later I was sat alone in a slick, brand new M3. When at the exit of the dealership, I pressed the accelerator, the car leaped onto the road. The purr was deep and as I entered the motorway, I could feel the growl of the engine through the floor and on my back.

I thought of Jack & Bobby – how similar they were as people, how they both worked with their hands and how their hands had grown thick and strong from doing that work. At the same time, I thought about how different their work was.

It is when I think back to what Jack does and what Bobby does that I am most able to understand the difference between being a ‘coach’ and being a ‘therapist’.

Personal Branding is for Cows, Not People

When a hot piece of iron singes through the fur of a cow’s hide and then hisses as it boils off the moisture in its flesh, it leaves a permanent scar.

Putting aside for a moment the barbarism of it, the fact that the scar is permanent is OK. A cow doesn’t change. A cow is a cow until it becomes a steak or a jacket.

However, for a person, the moment a ‘personal brand’ is applied, it becomes a lie. This is because people are constantly evolving.

I am NOT suggesting that we don’t speak out about who we are and what we do.

What I am saying is that the idea of a brand carries with it an essence of static-ness. This essence is what causes conflict for many people when trying to figure out their ‘personal brand’.

People aren’t permanent and deep down we know it.

To make it easier, and to stay in integrity, what we ‘speak out’ about who we are and what we do should be free to always evolve.

Also interesting is that many people (unconsciously) reference their past when speaking out about who they are and what they do. Not only are they singeing hot iron into their own flesh, but they are doing so with the mark of who they were instead of who they are becoming.

Forget branding yourself.

Speak out about who and what you are becoming and do that differently every day.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What if instead of speaking out with the story of your remembered past, you spoke out with the story of your created future?
  • And if you allowed that story to evolve every day, what would that story be today?

How to Coach Without Listening

Yesterday somebody gave me ‘feedback’ during a coaching session.

“You aren’t listening to me,” they said.

They were right!

Patience and listening is considered a virtue in coaching.

I can be patient. And I can listen. I can listen to you more deeply than most people will ever even come close to listening to you.

And yet sometimes…I throw listening completely out the window.

Sometimes I will decidedly STOP listening to a person who I am coaching. In fact, I often interrupt my clients so I can stop listening to them.

Why?

I have no patience for stories about why things are difficult. I will not waste your time listening to you explain why something cannot be done.

Your reasons why something is difficult or impossible may very well be TRUE! (They often are.)

And yet, as far as our work together is concerned, those reasons only matter when they are what you focus on.

For me, coaching is about creating a new reality to focus on.

I love you too much to let you go on and on and on continuing to create a reality that does not serve you.

When I interrupt you, I want you to STOP looking at the blindingly obvious. I want you to STOP looking at the brightest light.

Instead I want you to walk with me into the darkness…into the unlikely and the impossible

In that place, I want you to find the tiny specks of light in the darkness. The white twinkling dots.

I want you to focus on those and I want you to discover that you can navigate your entire life and create everything you want by those stars.

That is why sometimes I coach you by NOT listening to you.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What is the story that you have been telling yourself about why it is challenging to do what you want to do?
  • What might be another story that is also true, but which is about succeeding at what you want to do?

Your Desires are a Backwards Strategy

I get loads of emails from people telling me about what they want differently in their lives.

A pattern I see is that people will often first list the things they want for themselves…

Money, Freedom, Relationship, Passion, etc…

And then they will continue, suggesting that after they have that they also want things for others, like…

Contribution, help people, make an impact in the world, leave a legacy, etc

In one sense, the order of these things is good. It makes sense that we worry about taking care of ourselves first. We need to be healthy and safe before we can be of value to others.

In another sense – the more actual one – we are completely insane.

We are already safe and secure enough to move on to the second list. We just think we aren’t.

The ebb and flow of life has a particular rhythm to it. So many people want to ebb without flowing.

But flowing is where you have to go before you get to ebb again.

Put doing THESE things first EVERY SINGLE MORNING:

Contribution, help people, make an impact in the world, leave a legacy, etc

And more of THIS will then come to you in your afternoons:

Money, Freedom, Relationship, Passion, etc…

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What are all the things that you want?
  • What order do you typically place them in?
  • Could reversing the order of your desires be the perfect strategy for creating those desires?

How to Find What You Want – Seeking to Creating

Are you searching for something?

Maybe a relationship partner, a passion or purpose, a business idea, a job?

Whenever someone tells me they are trying to ‘find’ something, I immediately see how and why the thing they want is evading them.

Trying to ‘find’ something is a very passive approach. It amounts to looking around,  watching and maybe even listening too. You may in fact be all ears and all eyes in your ‘search’, but if so, you are still leaving out half of what you can do.

Listening and watching is all about input. If you are ‘searching’, then you’re probably forgetting the output.

By output,  I mean the things you can do to impact and shake up the world. Your output oriented actions can change the environment you are looking and listening in.

People do this mildly in their search, but mostly they are just poking their heads around corners and peeking inside cupboards.

Instead of ‘searching’, ‘seeking’ or ‘finding’, I prefer the idea of ‘creating’ stuff in life.

When playing hide-and-go-seek with my nephew, I will NOT be a ‘creator’. I will be a ‘seeker’, because it takes me much longer to find him and this is fun for him. I’ll just walk around, allowing my eyes to glance in different directions.

When playing hide-and-go-seek with a particular person or opportunity, I WILL be a ‘creator’.  I’ll  talk often about what I am looking for. I’ll tell everyone. I ask questions. I’ll create things that might attract that person or opportunity. I’ll shake up the world like I’m shaking an apple tree and let that person or opportunity fall out and hit me on the head.

Creating is much more active than seeking.

COACHING QUESTIONS:

  • What is it that you are currently trying to find?
  • What could you do differently if you transcended ‘seeking’ and began CREATING instead?

How to Create an Elevator Pitch

If you had one minute in an elevator with someone, why would you want to spend it talking about yourself and your idea?

Why not spend it focused on the other person, being curious about them, connecting with them?

In a world where everyone is focused on themselves and their thing and their idea and getting everyone to love them – you will stand out much more by being interested in a person than by trying to get them to be interested in you.

In fact, you are much more likely to create the opportunity to spend MORE than one minute with a person if instead of trying to ‘wow’ them with your song and dance, you connect with them on a human level.

Deep human connection will serve the creation of your vision more than an elevator pitch ever will.

What the world needs is not another pitch. What the world needs is people willing to listen.

If you have been working on your elevator pitch, please stop.

And ask your friends to do the same.

How to Inspire People

The other day my yoga instructor, an inspiring vegetarian, ironman triathlete and yogi named Jessica, said something funny that triggered a new insight for me.

(I know I’ve been mentioning ‘yoga’ often recently. What can I say – I’m hooked! Going almost everyday now.)

After saying ‘inhale’, instead of saying ‘exhale’, Jessica said a made up word: ‘out-hale’.

Upon hearing that, my mind wandered to the explanation of ‘inspire’ that I like – that inspiration is the inhalation of spirit – in-spirit. In other words, when you feel inspired, it is because you have breathed in spirit that resonates with you deep inside.

(To hear more about this, check out my video You Are What You Admire)

If that was what in-spire is…then would what out-spire be?

It struck me quite quickly that out-spire – the breathing out of spirit – is exactly what I do and what I help my clients who are coaches and leaders to do.

I was reminded of how a mission to ‘inspire people’, which I often hear people proclaim, always strikes me as a bit misguided and even controlling.

How could I possibly have any control over whether or not a person is inspired? I can’t force spirit down into their hearts. I can’t ensure the spirit I have access to will resonate with their heart.

For example, try as you may, you will likely find it very difficult to inspire me with your demonstration of skills at bird watching (people have tried and I’ve fallen asleep).

What I can do instead of trying to inspire people is focus on ‘out-spiring’. I can focus on breathing out the spirit that resonates with me. I can focus on speaking and doing the things that give me the strongest feeling of inspiration.

And maybe this is all we are supposed to do.

Referring to trees again (another great teacher for me recently), trees ‘breathe in’ carbon dioxide and they ‘breathe out’ oxygen. They don’t try to ensure that YOU breathe in their oxygen.

Imagine a tree saying, “I want to give people MY oxygen.” 

That would be nuts! (Besides the fact that a tree would be talking.)

Trees don’t give a shit who breathes their oxygen. They are just doing what they do. Breathing in and breathing out. And during that process, through their uniqueness, the air is transformed a little bit.

When you breathe in spirit and it connects with you, it transforms a little bit too. It gets a piece of you with it.

Your job – your only job – is to ‘out-spire’.

Breathe it out. Do your part. Speak your truth. Do what you love.

That is how you inspire people.

Don’t Push Too Hard

My father was a policeman. Once he went to a house where the owner hadn’t been heard from for days. He had to break in to check on him. Sadly he found the man passed away on the bathroom floor. He had given himself a heart attack from pushing too hard on the toilet. 

Dad told me about this when in my youth I had gotten a haemorrhoid and didn’t know what caused it. 

“Don’t push so hard. Be patient. It will come eventually,” I remember him saying. 

His story certainly got me to relax in the loo. The burning pain of the haemorrhoid together with the  imagined image of me dying on the toilet did the trick. I haven’t had a blowout since. 

As a bonus, this insight from my Dad’s story seeped into other areas of my life as well. 

Whenever I find myself pushing hard at anything – an unconscious tendency that I still have – I’m reminded to be careful and weigh the risk. 

Success isn’t always worth pushing hard for. 

Even more importantly, just like on the toilet, success can often be effortless when we relax and have some patience.

Don’t get me wrong – I get that there are times to push hard.  For example, there are few greater blisses than collapsing in nauseated dizziness after an intense physical workout. 

At the same time, when in my work and relationships I push hard to get something to happen, it usually becomes more difficult. Sometimes I’ll even blow a gasket and end up with a bigger problem than I started with!

It is in those instances of work and life, where noticing my over-zealousness, I suddenly picture myself laying dead on the bathroom floor and I ease off and just let things be. 

I get patient. And I wait. 

When I do this, the thing eventually happens all on its own. 

COACHING QUESTIONS

  • What are you pushing too hard for?
  • What’s the risk of pushing so hard?
  • Is it worth it?
  • How could easing off actually help it to be more likely to happen?
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