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Matt is a $1.5 million producer. He has a new Porsche 911, Maserati and a 5,000 square foot house overlooking a valley. He has two beautiful kids, a gorgeous wife and no debt. He has it made.
Except for the happiness part.
He is frustrated about paperwork, staff, compliance regulations and parent company edicts. But many top producers are frustrated. The difference is that Matt isn’t happy. He likes his career and freedom. He loves his income. Why can’t he just count his blessings?
Over a third of Americans have mental problems. Some are more severe than others. In graduate school, a professor jokingly told me the difference between neurotics and psychotics, was that neurotics build sand castles in the sky, psychotics move into them and psychologists collect the rent.
I have always thought about the differences more concretely. If you ask a psychotic what 2+2 equals, the psychotic will say 36, 98, 112 with no sense of reality. But if you ask a neurotic the same question, they will always say four, but follow up with, “Why does it always have to be four? It makes me nuts it can’t be five once in a while.”
The drive that causes one to be super successful can also be the psychological catalyst that causes dissatisfaction. A postal worker does an 8-5 day with no pressure. They know their job, show up for work and get paid. They rarely get fired, sometimes get promoted, but have no motivation to work hard and make more money. The super sales producer is unemployed until his next sale, and always under stress. When I was 26 and a new stock broker, my manager encouraged me to buy a new BMW 535. His attitude was a producer with financial stress was a harder worker than a financially comfortable one.
But the stress super producers feel is self-inflicted. Why?
There is a hole in their ego constantly in need of filling. They are super competitive and struggle to reach the next level. Managers love these producers but also find them challenging. These super producers complain constantly, sometimes think things are unfair and are generally headaches to those who work with or supervise them.
John had a good year. He grew his business to $2 million in income and got really irritated because it wasn’t more. His goal was to increase income by 25%. It only rose 10% and he wasn’t happy. The average household income in the U.S. is $54K. Only 1% of Americans earn more than $500K and have a net worth of more than $1 million. But that doesn’t matter to maladaptive irrational super producers. Why aren’t they happy? It could be a non-approving father or a critical mother. It could be a poverty-stricken upbringing. But these folks are constantly trying to fill the void, struggling to be good enough.
I renewed my driver’s license at the DMV a while ago. The last step was a photo. Third in line, the photographer told each person before me to put their feet in the yellow outline, look at the camera, wait for the flash and walk to checkout counter. When it was my turn, I handed him my paperwork and said, “Won’t you be glad when you can rotate out of this job to another DMV station.” He said, “I have been here doing the same job taking driver’s license photos for 25 years.” He then said, “Put your feet in the outline, look at the camera………” This is not a super sales producer. They get easily bored, need to be challenged constantly and most importantly, feel valued.
In my coaching practice, I guarantee clients will increase their business by 80% in eight weeks. Actually, because I first commit my clients to a business plan, it’s hard not to get on an 80% in eight weeks track. They only need someone to hold them accountable. But the super sales producers are different. They need more praise than the rest. It was my mistaken belief that the biggest producers were psychological emotional giants. I thought they were more emotionally insulated that lesser producers. The opposite is true. They need more stroking, more praise, and more self-worth injections than others.
It is a counterintuitive concept for most colleagues and managers. These super producers sometimes diminish praise by saying things like, “’It’s not enough,” or “Let’s see what happens next month.” Managers or colleagues think since they don’t accept stokes well, they don’t want praise. But these super producers need praise even more than the less gifted sort. A rule of thumb is to catch super producers in the act of being successful. When they complain about paperwork, tell them how well they are at managing their time. When they whine about a slow internet connection, tell them you will work on it, but at their lofty level it’s only a speed bump. Remind them of how well they have done before or a hurdle they overcame earlier. “Hey Jim, remember the case you sold that produced $50K last month. Boy, you worked hard on that. You are absolutely gifted. You are the best I have ever seen.”
It is hard to be gratuitous with a super producer. They are looking for any reason to build their self-esteem. Since they find it hard to self-praise, it needs to come from you. Obviously, you want the praise to be sincere. But a rule of thumb is to praise them three times a day and rationalize training as way to be even more successful than they already are. Remember, you are trying to fill an emotional hole. Don’t worry about sterilizing your super producer. They will just produce more and be happier in the process.
I have three daughters. I have always told each they were my favorite. It’s now a family joke. But there’s a reason to my madness. One of my heroes was Congressman Jack Kemp. He was an NCAA All-Pro quarterback at Occidental College, won the NCAA championship and later played quarterback for the Buffalo Bills football team. He went on to be a U.S. congressman and even the running mate of Senator Bob Dole in the 1996 Presidential election against Bill Clinton. Just before the national championship, Kemp’s college coach called him into his office. “Jack, you are a natural born leader. You are the most gifted and hardworking player I have ever coached. I need you lead this team to a national championship. Motivate the rest of the players to give all they can in the game and we will walk away with the championship. But don’t tell any of the players we had this conversation.” Kemp said, “Okay coach. Thanks for believing in me. I will bring back the trophy.” They went on to win the championship and Kemp went on to a great career.
At a reunion decades later, one player walked up to Kemp and said, “Coach liked me best.” Kemp laughed at such a random statement and asked why he thought that. The lineman said, “Coach called me into his office before the national championship and told me I was the most gifted and hardworking player he had ever coached. He told me to lead the team and motivate the other players.” The coach told every player the same thing. The Occidental College football coach won a national championship by motivating the maladaptive irrational super producers to even greater things.
If you want to keep the irrational super producer from imploding, praise them frequently. Even when you train, praise their efforts in improving their game. The super producer appears unbreakable, but yet is fragile.
Kerry Johnson, MBA, Ph.D. is a best-selling author and frequent speaker at financial conferences around the world. Peak Performance Coaching (his one on one coaching program) promises to increase your business by 80% in 8 weeks. To see if you are a candidate for this fast track system, click on www.KerryJohnson.com/coaching and take a free evaluation test. You will even get the video “How to Get Referred to the Affluent” Free. Or call 714-368-3650 for more information.
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