As you likely know, there is no substitute for discipline and perseverance when it comes to achieving one’s goals, be them in business, health, or everything in between. It certainly is crucial when it comes to prospecting and sales (which almost always involves some tasks and behaviors we would rather avoid).
Discipline can be defined as doing what you need to do, when you need to do it. Perseverance is to keep at it, to push through, even when conditions are overwhelmingly working against you.
One might also describe these traits, collectively, as willpower.
But here’s the problem with will power: each of us may have it to one degree or another. But eventually, we all will run out of it.
Discipline, perseverance and willpower are important, but they alone will not suffice. What most people do not understand is a force that is far more powerful. It’s called structure.
And we call Structure the great “Willpower Work-Around.” (Yes, you can call it a “Hack” if you prefer…)
Structure refers to how all elements in your life are arranged in relation to each other. These include such intangible things as ideas, desires, fears, beliefs, aspirations, and values. They also include the very tangible elements of your life, such as current resources like the things you own, where you live and work, what you do, the people around you, and your interpersonal relationships.
This approach has been well articulated by Robert Fritz, whose unique “structural” approach to planning and creating has been hailed as revolutionary. Fritz’s observations are that people who create results—independent of current problems, obstacles or resources—are the ones who are responsible for the extraordinary advancements of the human race.
In his classic book, The Path of Least Resistance, Fritz states that energy in a system follows—you guessed it—a path of least resistance, going where it is easiest to go. Water in streams, electricity in circuits, companies in the marketplace, individuals in daily life, all follow a path laid down by an often unseen but evident structure underlying them.
In streams, for example, the stream bed interacts with the rate and volume of water flow to produce changing surface patterns. The surface runs smooth when a stream bed is smooth and/or water flow is high. Standing waves appear when a stream bed is irregular and water flow is moderate. For comparison, pour some water into a plastic ice tray, and place it into a freezer, and you’ll see the water behave in a completely different way.
Some structures support desired results. Others do not.
And people are no different. In businesses, key structural components interrelate to give rise to patterns of behavior. Some structures support desired results. Others do not.
Structure Determines Behavior.
This statement reveals a liberating truth. Indeed, if you want to encourage a certain behavior, you must first look at your structure.
- Wasting too much time on social media at work? Block the site or remove your mobile device, or limit the hours it’s available.
- Eating food that you shouldn’t? Don’t keep that food at home (and stock up on the foods you should eat).
Consider all the people who have had to start working at home during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020. Consider how many of them had to, literally, re-engineer their home environments to support productivity and minimize distractions. This was creating a structure that intentionally would favor a desired behavior!
- The structure of your thinking affects your actions, attitudes, and emotions.
- The structure of your target market (got one?) and of your network impacts with whom you are able to connect and meet for prospecting.
- The structure of your communication impacts how successfully you are able to nurture those connections into prospective client relationships.
- Lastly, the structure of your own board of advisors (got one of those too?), and how you manage it, holds you accountable.
Still not convinced? Then what the heck do you think a sales funnel is?
If you want to achieve a goal, then your structure is a means to that end.