Start on Empty

It was mid-December when hard charging business executive approached me with a concern. He was reviewing his results from the past year and was making plans for the upcoming year. Since I had coached him over the past several years, I was familiar with his goal oriented wiring and high activity level. He has been extremely successful in his sales management role, but there was something different about the way he shared this concern that troubled me. There was something different in the way he talked and moved.

As we sat and talked, he shared his fears and insecurities about being able to keep up the same frenetic pace to which he had become accustomed. He was exhausted, but he couldn’t see any change in pace on the horizon.

I asked him what he says to himself when he wakes up and gets ready for work. His shoulders slumped down and he lowered his head, shaking it side to side. “I say, time to get back to the day to day grind,” he said. Then I asked him to think back to a time when he was on top of his sales game and things were clicking on all cylinders and recall those feelings. He said, “In those days, I would say to myself, time to make it happen!” with an air of excitement and anticipation of all the opportunities.

It’s always fascinated me how the words we speak out loud to others or in silence to ourselves pave the way to our future reality. Some would say, all you need to do is think good thoughts and everything will work out. Others would say that to improve results all you need to do is focus on the facts and stick to a plan. But, what happens if you work your strategy from both ends? Could you consider the facts and create a game plan with an attitude and outlook of something positive moving toward you?

The business executive was trying to tough it out pushing himself to accomplish results. I don’t have a problem with working hard and focusing on a plan to reach a goal. But, he saw those actions as “a day to day grind” which lacks power. It was an attitude born from fear of not being able to keep up the pace, insecurity about not making enough money or doing enough activity and regret or guilt about not doing more in the past. All of those fear, insecurity, regret and guilt feelings weigh you down. A person who is weighed down by emotion cannot soar high and reach their lofty goals.

I told him to take a deep breath and imagine exhaling out the fear and insecurities. I told him to write his fears on a piece of paper… and then tear it up.

Now, don’t worry, I’m still a business writer, author and speaker. I’m not about to go all woo-woo and incense on you. But, there is science behind emptying your mind of negative and self-sabotaging thoughts. Back in 1952, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote in The Power of Positive Thinking, “Haven’t you experienced a sense of release when you have been able to pour out to somebody whom you can trust worrisome matters that lay heavy upon the heart?” Whether you talk to a colleague, friend, therapist, priest or rabbi, or whether you write your fears on a piece of paper to tear or burn, the point is… the best way to start on a path to more and better results is to start on empty.

A mind empty of fear, insecurity, regret and guilt is weightless. In this weightless space, allow optimism to reside. Optimism is light and airy, open to ideas and opportunities.

As you plan for your best year yet, be sure to work into your plan a strategy for emptying the trashy thoughts weighing down your mind and limiting your potential to soar.

When it comes to onboarding new people, do you have a deliberate way to check in on their mindset?  

One strategy is to use an Emotional Intelligence assessment to discover a person’s levels in two specific attributes: reality testing and optimism.  The relationship between these two attributes will tell you volumes about what they will accomplish in their new role.


Merit Gest is a Principal with The Revenue Accelerator and a sales & behavioral expert who works with organizations to ramp up new salespeople fast so they produce more and stay longer.  720-980-1286, Merit@MeritBasedOnboarding.com

For more information about Emotional Intelligence assessments, call Merit at 720-980-1286.