Context is everything. The attitude and underlying beliefs with which we approach projects or circumstances determine the outcome far more than any specific words we say or actions we take. When we put on green glasses, the world looks green. Red glasses turn it red. Whether you succeed in your business development efforts (or any other goals you may have) will depend largely on the lens through which you are viewing the situation. Consider this example. The other day, I was talking with a client about her business development plan, and she was terribly uninspired. Sometimes, we can focus on the activities that inspire us, but sometimes we just need to buckle down and take the actions that we would normally avoid like the plague. In this particular case, it was time to buckle down, and the depth of misery in her voice was evident. In that moment, her context around business development was something like, “Lots of miserable cr@p I don’t want to do, and which probably won’t yield results anyway.” You can image how that project would have gone, with that context.
So, of course, we looked at how to alter her perception of the situation. My client explained that she felt as if she were going off to fight a dragon – the big, nasty fire-breathing kind. (Another person may have seen a list of follow up phone calls and emails; but dragons are in the eyes of the beholder.) We played around with this image for a bit and ultimately shifted the context to, “walking into the fire, emerging with dragons, and looking hot doing it.” For those who don’t watch Game of Thrones, this is a reference to a character who walks into her husband’s funeral pyre, and later emerges from the ashes unscathed, carrying three baby dragons which hatched in the fire. This felt applicable to my client because it exemplified the idea that tackling head on what she would normally resist could yield unpredictable and amazing results. By the time we got off the phone, she was excited to get started and see what kind of miracles she could create.
Finding an inspiring image to go with our plans and goals provides an emotional foundation and shifts the way that we perceive our circumstances to a degree that rarely happens with mere words. I’ve had clients choose to relate their projects as if they were Indian Jones, Madonna, Nelson Mandela… He is not just getting organized; he is hacking his way through the jungle in search of treasure. She is not just working with idiots; she is preparing her team for a superstar world tour. These may sound a little silly, but once you find an image that really speaks to you and your particular circumstances, it will shift how you see the situation and help to bring fourth your inner megastar, superhero, badass — and approaching the world from that context can be a lot of fun, not to mention produces great results.