Mind the gap…

Mind the gap…

The vast majority of attendees come to our courses with an appetite to learn and enhance their skills in what is undoubtedly a hotly competitive market place at present. Every now and then however, we encounter a delegate who really doesn’t want to be there. These people represent our greatest challenge, but nonetheless it is one we relish.

Some years ago, a gentleman arrived five minutes late for the start of the course (a classic sign of treating the event with disdain) and sat with his arms folded for the first hour. I invited responses from him now and then, which resulted in the odd grunt or monosyllabic answer. Just as the hour ticked past, I noticed him picking up the pen we had supplied him (having checked whether he had brought one with him – he hadn’t) and he made a short note on the paper in front of him. He was of course forced to unfold his arms to do so. They remained unfolded for a few minutes before he made another more detailed note. We then broke for coffee.

He approached me during the break, apologised for his late arrival and then explained that he had been in the business 39 years and had not understood why he was being “sent” on our course. He then almost floored me with the comment…”but I have to say that if the first hour is anything to go by, I wish I had been on this course 39 years ago.” An extraordinary change of attitude and one which remains a proud moment in my career! After all, I figured that if I could convert him, I could convert anybody!

I have had nobody of that extreme nature for many years, until last week as it happens. Again, the slightly late arrival, giveaway body language and sullen look did not require Sherlock Holmes to work out what was going on. There were a few possibly embarrassed squirms from other attendees at one or two comments made by the person in question.

The delegate was hard work but we made some headway during the day. We have a follow-up session with the same firm in a few weeks…it will be interesting to see if the person in question makes an appearance and their prevailing attitude if they do.

So why behave like that? I imagine it must centre upon the belief that they know it all, are perfect in all that they do and that any new ideas or refinements to their skills are unnecessary. I find this attitude hard to understand as my perception is that nobody reaches perfection in any walk of life, be it business, sport or any other area.

The best people in business have a thirst for new ideas, a ravenous appetite for new angles and approaches and a recognition of the “performance gap” that exists in all of us, namely the gap between our actual performance and perfection – training helps close that gap. The narrower the gap becomes, the better. Top sports performers have coaches who encourage slight tweaks and new ingredients to their play and style that can make the difference between winning gold or silver, being a champion or the runner-up.

That is why the best agents I meet across the country read avidly, seek better ways of doing things, engage with other practitioners via social media, and realise that 100% market share may be a pipe dream but look to edge closer to it by improving every day.

This is not meant a justification of why you should come on our training courses, but rather an attempt to make those agents who are fearful of change, who see no need to improve on their current skillset and who have the “We’re doing alright Jack” mentality to think more deeply, particularly in the face of a harder world and increasing competition.

After all, although it may seem a strange analogy, dinosaurs ruled the Earth many years ago, but their inability to adapt to the changing environment ultimately led to their demise. Let’s face it, you don’t see many dinosaurs around these days.

Apart from the very occasional one on our courses obviously.