Friday, October 26, 2012

The Selling of You VI: No Future, No Fear

I used to do insane things when I was young.

I have an image of my self at 23 - running naked into a teaching room, dripping water while yelling at the bemused and stunned participants of a residential I led: “Hey! Come swim and live a little you guys!!!” and then shot off out of the room, a small pool of water left in my wake.

Australia, like England, has a poetic tolerance for eccentrics, particularly drunken ones, so the moment passed with no more than gentle amusement. I was, after all, a rather attractive naked young man - who could really object?

I cringe now as I disclose what was then a mere minor infringement in a string of indiscretions. Today I do wonder - whatever possessed me at the time? And the surprising answer is: precisely nothing. That is the point - at that moment I had no future. I had no image of “what might happen” from my outrageous behaviour. I often lived that way, and discovered I got a great deal done from this do-or-die daredevil mind.

It is from those reckless days that I now pull wisdom: when there is no future, there is no decision to make, there is no fear. When you are in total yes to your action, it is like the moment decides you. Sports people call it “being in the zone.” It is considered an ideal state. However, as soon as a future starts to appear, concerns emerge, with a nightmare not far behind. Imagination creates your future, and one task for the person in the process of selling is to notice what kind of future you are evoking…

Imagination is both wonderful and terrible: it ushers in great art and smarter bombs; it leads to the enlightened mind while also convincing a Tokyo innocent to hurl her Self under a fast moving subway train. When you sell, are you ushering in little nightmares? Do you have a future where your student leaves the session without making any promises? Are you pushing a shopping trolley along a dark alley?

People who sell in “the zone” have no nightmares, have no decisions to make. The way forward is only yes. In my youth, when I would conceive a new project, I would “yes it” to everyone around me until, from the sheer exuberance of my belief, they would fall in line. I now know I paid a price for that - this is what we might term “hard” selling. It can be brutal, and in our work sensitivity, give and take, is part of the communication skill that moderates and channels this exuberance.

So what to do?

Notice if you have a future. Understand that this is imagined, not real. It is your projection and you equally have the ability to project another future, one in which you star as a success. It’s all a dream really - but the dreams are fine. It’s the nightmare you want to wake up from.

Nightmares are always futures that don’t yet exist. Endgaining is a term Alexander used. Get rid of your future when selling, get rid of anything other than the yes to the work and the presence of the person standing before you…

Hey - that reads awfully like teaching Alexander's discoveries to me!

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