An Sneak Peek Excerpt from Giving Candy To Strangers…
Get Your Ducks in a Flow
Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction. – Will Rogers
My front yard lacks the dark green manicured look that is so common in much of suburbia. This is thanks to a gaggle of geese (yes, a gaggle), a swan or two, and a badling (yes, a badling) of ducks, all munching and grazing to their hearts content. We live on a lake in sunny Southern California, which hosts a myriad of different waterfowl, with ducks being the main attraction. A big thank you goes to my lovely wife, Renée, who so earnestly feeds them cracked corn when I am not looking.
Sometime back, I gave up the fight of forever trying to keep my grass pristine when it became clear that I could not win. I can’t even clean up the aftermath of their relentless grooming and fertilizing of my lawn. Now, as I cross my yard I just look up into the sky as to not see their handiwork, and hope that one of them does not decide to fly overhead at the same time and that I do not slip on their aforementioned handiwork.
Don’t get me wrong, I love ducks. As a matter of fact, while in college I wrote a poem about ducks and even stopped traffic on a busy highway—putting my life at risk—to make way for a family of baby ducklings to cross. But I have learned one thing that is undeniable: it is impossible to control, manipulate, manage, or line up any ducks into a row.
Too many salespeople suffer from what I like to call Ducks in a Row Syndrome. They spend endless time planning, organizing, and strategizing, but avoid picking up the phone, ringing the doorbell, or getting out there and making connections. They spend so much time sharpening their pencils, designing their business cards, and refining their prospect lists that they have no time left to actually sell anything. Weeks, months, or even years later, they are still busy lining up their proverbial ducks, an exercise that, as I’ve already explained, is futile.
Planning and organizing (something I admit does not come easily to me) are certainly important components of any business. But, when it comes to creating and maintaining relationships, the most important thing you can do is take action. Move forward! Pick up the phone, go for a walk, talk to someone. ANYONE! Be creative. Be spontaneous. Creativity and spontaneity are heroic traits. Jump out of the plane and put your parachute on while you are on your way down.
Richard Branson, one of the world’s best-known businessmen, credits his own success to the power of relationships and his willingness to move forward briskly. “Succeeding in business is all about making connections,” he says. And his advice to others is unequivocal: “No matter how heavy your workload is, do not allow yourself to work in your cubicle or office all day, every day—for your own well-being and the health of your business, you need to get out and about, meeting people and developing relationships.”6
Ducks in a Row Syndrome, or Analysis Paralysis, as it’s sometimes known, has a simple cure: DO IT NOW! It’s basic physics. Newton’s law of inertia tells us that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. In other words, if you sit at rest behind your desk, lining up your ducks, you’re likely to stay that way indefinitely. But if you give yourself an initial push (an unbalanced force) and get out the door, you’ll soon gain some momentum. And momentum translates as feeling easier.
You’ve probably experienced this yourself. Have you ever tried to push a stalled car? The initial push is the hardest, but once the car is rolling just a little it gains speed, then the pushing becomes much easier. Or think about a time when you were procrastinating on a particular project or task because the thought of actually doing it was so daunting; but when you finally got around to doing it, it turned out to be quite easy. Or maybe you’ve had the experience of standing on the edge of a high diving board hesitating to jump. That feeling of uneasiness becomes almost overwhelming—until you finally take the leap. Then it feels great! That is because you became the “unbalanced force.” The first step in becoming the unbalanced force is to get up and get out there. The second step is to get up and get out there again, and again, and again. It’s that simple! And it gets easier. Stop trying to get your ducks in a row, and get your ducks in a flow instead. Being in the “flow” or in the “zone” is what happens when you generate momentum, so that you start to feel like you’re being carried. But you’ll only get there if you get the ball rolling yourself. Push the car. Take the leap. Hold out your hand to a stranger.
A quote from the Kevin Costner baseball movie Bull Durham comes to mind. Skip, the quirky manager, played by the now-departed actor Trey Wilson, delivers this great line: “You guys, you lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Lollygaggers!”
Stop lining up your ducks…and don’t be a lollygagger!
Get out there today. Expose yourself to new people, places, and things. Don’t fall into the trap of saying to yourself, “Tomorrow I’m going to go out and make ten new contacts. But today I’m going to do some research, make a list, get some new business cards printed, get a haircut, and pick up my good suit from the dry cleaner.” If you do, you can pretty much guarantee that tomorrow your drive and enthusiasm will have dwindled to nothing, and you’ll come up with a new list of ducks you need to line up before you can start. You’d be better off walking out into the street right now, without a list or a business card, with your hair a little long and whatever clothes you happen to be wearing, and giving some candy to the first five people you meet. Five real connections today are worth more than fifty well-behaved ducks. DO IT NOW!