I've been through a lot of corporate sales training.
Some of them were helpful, some not so much: all included bad coffee and some semi-motivational message delivered by either an overly-enthusiastic ex-salesman who'd written a book - "This room is ON FIRE with talent! Say it with me!" or some reasonable person who wanted to stay employed and believed most of what they were saying, but not all of it. So it goes with forced motivation, I guess.
One training, meant for up-and-coming young sales staff who showed promise, landed me in Sandy, Utah for a week. Now there are lots of people who love Utah, and God Bless them for it, I am just not one of these people. In fact, if you run in to me someplace, ask about my stories about visiting Utah - every one of them is pretty funny in an "I'm so glad that wasn't me" kind of way. So anyway, I left my young daughter and flew to Utah to meet up with a dozen more of the company's best and brightest. Thankfully, my roommate wasn't too weird and the bathroom was decently sized. I also found out that these meetings had been held in Las Vegas until a couple of years before I got the nod, but people kept disappearing or passing out in class. Spoil-sports.
When I walked in to the training room and met our instructor, Carla Hess, I liked her right away. She had a job to do, of course - to inspire me to sell more Corn Dogs and Prime Rib while ascending to an upper management position - but she seemed honest, and friendly, and kind. And she was.
After a couple of days of goal setting strategies and a video that convinced me that not only would I never climb Mount Everest, I might never go near snow again, Carla took a huge piece of paper and wrote MARCH 4th in block letters - which was weird, since it was September. Then the panic set in: "Oh shit!" I thought, "they're gonna make me come back! Maybe if I sell an entire truckload of pre-portioned cheesecake during the holidays, I can get out of it." Then Carla started to speak: "this isn't part of your official training, it's just something I wanted to share with you." Thank you, Jesus.
She went on to share that she had decided to get her black belt in karate, and that is was going to take more than 2 years. She had decided to set a goal date for completion in March, and when she looked at the calendar, she saw March 4th. "Say it out loud, think about it in a different way," she said to us. A-HA! I got it. March forth. Carla said that whenever she thought about karate, or any of her other goals, she reminded herself to March 4th, and to keep moving forward one step at a time.
Of all the workshops, trainings, motivational speakers I've seen and classes I've been to - forced or optional - Carla's "March 4th" message has stuck with me the most. (I also still have a lingering fear of mountain climbing.) I've come to use it not only as a reminder to put one foot in front of the other and to look at things from a different perspective, but as a date for reflection on the past year. It makes more sense to me to look at things when the flowers have begun to bloom - I usually spend the holidays and New Year trying to get everything delivered, wrapped and handled - the fact that I've survived it all, enjoyed most of it and put everything away is really enough for January. Plus, the New Year reminds me to start batting clean-up for March. Some of the things I'll consider, and my current status:
- Have I made life better for myself and my daughter? - Yes. And much of it hurt like hell.
- Did I keep my word? - I believe I have.
- Did I meet challenges head-on, and meet my career and personal goals? - Sometimes. Not nearly enough.
- When I got my ass handed to me, did I put it back where it belongs and keep moving? - I sure tried, this has felt like my life's work this year. Some days are better than others. There have been days when March 4th meant get out of bed, and then walk.
- Did I try something I've always wanted to try, and cross a thing or two off my Bucket List? - Yes. Saw some great stand-up comedy: including Jo Koy, started Stand Up Paddleboarding with Neil, and survived a Bikram yoga class (105 degrees!) and learned I could love again.
- Have I shown my daughter and the other children in my life how important they are? - I try, every day. I'll never be good enough at this.
- Have I thanked the people who've made a positive difference in my life? The ones who've made it better and worth living? - I'm getting better at this one! I need to write more notes.
- Did I help anybody? - In large ways and small ways, I try to do this every day. It's hard to know for sure, but I hope I've succeeded.
- Have I learned to shake off other people's noise, and not let other people's junk affect me? - Nope, negative, negitory. Working hard on this, and have a few weeks left - but I guess I've gotta have some goals for next year, too.
- Am I healthier than I was last year? - I think I am.
I'll be spending the next few weeks working hard for myself & my daughter, exceeding my clients' needs, improving G-Free Foodie and loving my friends and family - with an eye toward March 4th. And when I get there, I'll set my eyes on the next March - and wonder if Carla earned her black belt.