Sales Academy Ltd provided development and training globally for over 25 years. Thousands of delegates attended a range of programmes and events covering subjects from Leadership and Management to Sales, Account Management and Negotiation through to Life Balance and Personal Success.
As a team of consultants and coaches we had a close-up opportunity to work with people who by their own declaration enjoyed vastly different results.
Our approach was to arrive not as ‘know it all’s’ but as miners. Miners who could extract the existing best practice in any team or organisation, add it to what we had learnt elsewhere and then package the results in digestible training and development programmes that delivered practical, measurable results.
We started each engagement by running an ‘Excellence’ work shop. This allowed the best performers or champions in any team or company, to get together and work out what they did that made them the best. Initially many were unclear as to what they did or why it worked. We gave them the chance to teach one of our own team their best practice. We could ask the stupid questions and test the sales assumptions. We actively studied what the best people did in each company we worked with. We studied how they approached success, what they thought, did and believed that made them different. Every time we did this we challenged what they told us with what we had already learnt elsewhere.
The resultant output of methodology, approach, attitude, tools, techniques, hints and tips and the resultant blue print or method was then presented back for checking, discussion and sign off implementation. Often senior managers had no idea what made their best people the best.
We ended up with a recipe for success in their world.
As you would imagine there were any number of overlaps between teams and companies and overtime we became increasingly aware of what you might call the Essentials of any successful performance.
Something we might call Success Principles.
You might think the next step would be easy and simple.
Take a group of people who were not finding success easy. Show them what the successful ones did and how they did it, help them see how they could do it too and then bingo!
Every delegate would immediately and eagerly copy and incorporate the new methods. ideas and approaches into how they did things and everyone would be happy.
In practice it’s not quite like this –
Many delegates were resistant to learning or using new ways of working. There were substantial blocks that seemed to stop people from doing or using obvious improvements to get what they said they wanted – more success an easier life.
What eventually emerged was something we began to think of as an underlying individual blueprint or model of the world. Held deep inside us all it dictates how we believe things work or should work. It contains what we believe, the rules we work to and intrinsically determines the level of success that we experience.
The best practices determined by the champions in each team were based on their own models of how the world works. Best practice would bolt comfortably onto their own existing models and successful people were generally more able to quickly assimilate new options to make their lives easier or better. Despite by their own words ‘finding it tough’, less successful people often struggled to change existing practices that simply did not give them what they wanted.
Successful people were more likely to try things out; pragmatically monitoring their results and and making more clinical decisions about future usage.
In theory the best practice mined from the nominated champions could work for any one but in practice, some struggled to adopt obvious improvements. As we rolled the new blue prints out it became clear that each delegate absorbed this new information differently. Each delegate already had an existing model of how the world worked and they used this as a benchmark to evaluate the new ideas. Often these existing models imposed rules and beliefs that determined their existing performance and formed a blockage to just accepting and doing what best practice told us was true.
Some psychologists talk about dissonance and some of our delegates could see the logic and practicality of the new approaches but experienced dissonance internally as they struggled to implement them. Sometimes they said it was a head and heart thing sometimes they just reported an internal to and fro of arguments for and against implementation.
Typically this was increasing evident as the program rolled out and the blue print mix of what made the best people the best was revealed.
For these less successful people, it was as though the new best practice challenged their existing internal model of how the world works and this would kick off patterns of disruptive thinking and resistance in their heads. It was as though they existing internal model had to be defended at all costs.
Knowing what success looks like is not enough to do it.
It was not enough for us to tell them what best practice was or even to demo it. It was as though we were farmers, having to plough and prepare the fields before new ideas could be planted and grown. Focussing our efforts on their individually held blue prints first and only then bolting in the best practice, is what made our courses so effective. On 5-day sales course only three days were really about ‘sales’ the rest was about preparation and planting. This is often why short sales skills training for new or poor performing sales people just won’t work.
One company we worked with wanted us to teach their 4000 engineers ‘meet and greet’ ‘politeness’. These people were mums, dads and generally people who were nice to know. The company had ‘trained’ them before in a series of one day initiatives which covered how to greet customers and shake hands etc. Hardly surprising that nothing changed, they all knew how to do this already and telling them again, didn’t and wouldn’t ever help.
As time passed we became increasingly convinced that everyone has a model of the world. It sits deep inside you often unrecognised and only a few of us have any conscious awareness of what it involves. Our work was all about change and inevitably, in the practical exercise based events we ran, elements of these hidden models were often revealed.
Some of the most interesting in our sales world were what we might call limiting beliefs:
Success needs to be hard work,
Anything worth having is going to be tough.
I can’t present / sell / manage a team
Sales is a dirty business
I could never do that……..
I’m not ………. enough to make a go of this (add in yours – tall short fat thin clever etc etc
We learnt why some succeeded easily and others struggled and as you must’ve heard before, this certainly wasn’t about education, looks, size, shape background. In our world of training and development much was talked about competence – having the right ‘skills knowledge and behaviours’ for the job and for a while some thought this as the holy grail of development but whilst important, even this was not the whole story.
Your Model of the world
Your Model of the world is the collections of values, rules, beliefs, facts etc that you have collected over time. This collection tells you how the world works. It’s the software or the wiring you have that lets you make your best choice with some idea or feeling for the likely consequences or results. When you are disappointed it’s because your model has not successfully allowed you to predict consequences. How we treat failure is a subject in itself but it’s enough now to understand that few of us use these ‘failure’ moments to reexamine or revamp our models. As a result, the same patterns of failure may persist all our lives.
Your model is probably inherited, it has probably evolved unconsciously and it almost certainly contains elements that would not stand your conscious scrutiny. Elements that work to hold you back, undermine what you do and prevent you reaching your full potential.
Going against your model kicks off the noise in your head the one some call the Chattering Monkey. When you are required to work against your model it’s as though your Monkey fires off, actively implementing, maintaining and protecting what the model dictates.
Needless to say at the very moment our delegates needed to pull on an open minded head and pragmatically choose a new way of working, this Monkey based noise and the subsequent resistance, slowed learning down.
You can see why this ‘Monkey’ is of such interest to us.
Our interest in that ‘voice’, its drivers and its impact on success goes back a long way.
Deliberately our courses were designed to help people see and evaluate their own models and then go on to change them to let them have more of what they really wanted or less of what they didn’t want; it was never just sales training.
It seems that your Monkey resists any new thoughts actions or behaviours that go against your model. Obviously if you don’t know what your model says then there’s scope for a disconnect or what we came to think of as Misalignment.
All of you is not working coherently to achieve what all of you wants.
Particularly in our work with ‘reluctant sales people’ those who found themselves in sales against their better judgement.
These people may have had an option to be made redundant or move to sales.
The grown up conscious choice was to stay in work but for some this logical, perhaps short term expedient, wreaked havoc internally.
Elements of their models, which may have been added unconsciously, think sales is a dirty business, were visible in the Monkey’s activity and were obviously not helpful at this time.
Worse still, these unhelpful elements are often used unconsciously to make choices that create ongoing failure.
“I can’t be good at sales because if I was it would prove I was like them……..”
Once revealed, labelled or named and shamed it was possible to begin to either replace them with new more relevant elements or to work round them consciously.
Those who succeeded in changing their model could drop old beliefs, embrace new supportive ideas and move on far more easily and peacefully.
Incorporating new elements in the model that would now help rather than hinder and which the Monkey and the individual could follow without fear of conflict made a significant difference quickly.
Your model is personal but it needs to represent and be coherent with who you are now. If it has evolved slowly and unconsciously since your were a child, then it will likely contain elements that are no longer effective in your drive to survive and thrive. Most of our delegates were shocked to find out what their models contained and could easily see how the internal noise, courtesy of our friend the Monkey, often had its roots in this model disconnect.
We think your view of how things work needs to be one you would agree with consciously and this is so important because so much of what you do is inevitably done unconsciously. If you think about it you can understand that this often hidden model is the foundation you use to:
Create and choose options
Make the Options happen
If left to the unconscious you may habitually use your out of date model to choose options that don’t serve you well.
Even if you choose options consciously you may inadvertently go against your own model and then your Monkey will fire off. It’s like they must defend the model and so they react when they feel your model is under threat.
Unfortunately this will typically happen when you need to focus your full powers on something special you will be distracted or interrupted.
It’s almost like a regulator designed to keep us average.
The number one lesson we learned was that how you go about success must suit you and you alone.
This means the contents of your model are not there for your parents or your teachers or your friends. Nor are they there for your job, your company or for a younger less capable version of you. They are there to guide you through life choices to help you thrive and survive – ‘live long and prosper’ however and whatever that means to you.
We became very interested in how clever, smart people would get to be in the situation of working on assumptions that would not even stand up to their own scrutiny, let alone carry them forward to the success they said they wanted. How the dissonance in their head and resulting stress and mood depression stopped many from implementing simple helpful changes that would have materially improved their lives in line with their own stated aims overnight.
It’s worth making sure you know what your model dictates. We came across a number of methods for understanding or modifying the existing models that we all hold but as they are defended rigorously by our Monkeys, few of these actually worked in the long term.
The struggle in your own head
One common thread from delegates was that many seemed to have a ‘constant battle’ with what went on in their own heads. An internal dialogue that was not healthy or helpful. This stream of chatter affected virtually all our delegates and at one time or another caused a range of symptoms:
It became clear that if you struggle with what goes on in your head and the net result of all that thinking is to distract you and stop you achieving all you really want to have, do or be.
Distraction and Success
In the `Misaligned Monkey’ we say:
“Limitations in our awareness and our focus, caused by distraction, can be traced to an issue with an internal dialogue, a distraction which takes us off piste, often at the most critical of times.”
In the easily measured and quantitive world of sales the effect of this show clearly and quickly.
It was obvious this distraction worked to weaken the intentions, confuse and complicate the thinking of some of the most focussed people we met.
In discussion with delegates the simple fact emerged that they were more successful when they were more ‘single-minded’ and less distracted. It’s not rocket science and most of us know instinctively that this is true.
Single mindedness implies a total focus with all of us working on all that we want using a coherent model of how things work.
In our experience most people are just too busy to be successful. Most have no time to stop and look at the underlying model they hold and those that do, stir up resistance from their Monkey. A response usually powerful enough to stop them before the job is done if not before it’s even started.
We don’t think it’s effective to try to permanently change your model without first addressing the relationship you have with your Monkey
Why this site
This site is built to share some of what we learnt in achieving success.
It’s a pragmatic practical approach addressing the most significant aspect of all the success or failure that we came across; this is all about what goes on inside your head.
We believe this is the fundamental building block of success and overrides any advantage or disadvantage you may think you have elsewhere. Get this right and everything becomes easier.
Coming finally to the point, this website and associated books and challenges are designed to give you a better relationship, a partnership with your Monkey.
A partnership with your Monkey where you are both aligned to what you want, what you do and how you think the world works to deliver coherence, authenticity and peace in all that you do.
Next Steps :
Challenge the idea that your Monkey is a problem and that they cannot be influenced.
Collect a route map and the tools and techniques you need to reengineer your relationship
Reevaluate or confirm a clear understanding of what you are doing with the life you have been given
Once you have done this, everything changes.
You can more readily understand where and why conflicts have occurred in the past between you and your Monkey.
You can reengineer your relationship with your Monkey to get the results you both want.
You will have the resources and space to effectively make sure your own model is one you both support and use to deliver the outcomes your desire.
The first job is reengineering the relationship you have with your Monkey
Whether it’s improved sales, better management or just a more happy life, building a new partnership with your Monkey will help. Alternatively, if you are attempting a meditative practice or simply to be more mindful a better relationship with your Monkey is a great first step.
Reducing the interruption and distraction allows you to be more effective what ever you attempt.
Using the learning from our work with thousands of delegates over the last 25 years in our book The Misaligned Monkey.
It gives you a real alternative approach that you will be able to see working in less than 12 weeks. Once you have read the book consider completing the challenge. In a busy world its good to be guided week by week through the right steps to get the results you want.