Let’s say you’re determined to get and stay on the path of business development. You acknowledge that the changing world of client expectations requires that you take initiative to ensure your long-term success. You’re committed to learning and applying the strategies and skills outlined in the previous parts, and you’re willing to embrace the fundamental importance of a positive attitude to your efforts. Now what?
First, you’ll enjoy a period of enthusiastic energy. But sooner or later you will encounter resistance from within. In his book Mastery, George Leonard describes the phenomenon of homeostasis, the natural tendency of self-regulating systems to resist change and return to equilibrium. In microscopic organisms, human beings, and corporations alike, homeostasis is always working to create a steady state. Furthermore, resistance to change is “ . . . proportionate to the size and speed of the change, not whether the change is a favorable or unfavorable one.”
Leonard explains that the path of mastery in any endeavor has a predictable pattern. First there is a significant spurt of progress, then there’s a slight decline to a plateau of sustained practice. Then the danger zone appears at some point during this plateau. It’s where you’re most likely to “backslide.” Something throws you off and you just don’t get back. However, if you continue practicing throughout the plateau period, you will eventually experience another significant spurt of progress – and another slight decline, and then you’ll then settle onto your next plateau. The cycle of growth continues according to this pattern until your normal experience is significantly different from where you started. Anticipating the inevitable resistance you’ll meet during the plateau stage and building a plan that supports you through it is essential to getting to your next level.
Putting It All Together
There are two keys to thriving in this era of increasingly higher client expectations. The first is to craft a coherent strategy based on building quality relationships and develop the skills to apply it. The second is to cultivate the positive attitudes necessary to be successful in your endeavor. Fortunately, these two keys are mutually reinforcing. Having a plan and practicing skills makes it easier to be positive, and having a positive attitude makes it easier to work your plan and practice your skills. So where do you begin? The best place to start is with an exercise in self awareness: clarify exactly what you want to accomplish in your practice, why you want to accomplish it, and by when. Of course, this can be quite a challenge in and of itself. But by meeting it, you’ll be well on your way to meeting whatever other challenges lie ahead.