Focus on what you can change, forget the rest.


It was the end of November, many years ago. I had been building and negotiating a huge software deal with one of my clients for the past 9 months. I hadn’t heard from any of my contacts at the organization since well before Thanksgiving and was getting a bit nervous to say the least. This deal would be the difference in me having a mediocre year versus a phenomenal year in my sales role. It wasn’t just important to me, it was important to our region and our company as a whole. We had worked through all the test phases of the software drug the pilot project, we had involved their leadership, IT, and end user groups. We had poured over options for how we would structure the payment and the rollout. Now all I could do was wait…

So I waited and I worried. I need this to close before the end of the year and realistically I only had 10 or so working says left before everyone would take off for the holidays. I wold be in my office pacing and thinking about what I could have done differently. I relived the conversations to make sure I had not been ambiguous with my expectations or requests. It was causing debilitating anxiety and it was occupying my entire mind.

There was nothing left I could do. Worrying or pacing wasn’t going to change the anything.

December began and my anxiety was kicked up a notch. It didn’t help that my manger, a regional director, and our CEO felt the need to drop by my desk every other day for an update. The problem was, there was no update! I hadn’t heard from my client in 3 weeks (at least). I had sent the strategic “following up, and additional questions” email to elicit a response with no success. So I waited, I worried, and I sat in my office frustrated.

How could I let this situation have such a huge impact on me? Yes, I wanted the deal to come through. No, I did not want to be a failure. However, at this time, everything was out of my control. Short of tracking down my client in a parking lot somewhere, there was absolutely nothing I could do at this moment.

I should have been focusing on the things I could change and forgetting about the things I couldn’t. While it is easy to say that, it hard to put it into practice. Lets step back for a moment and explore how you could handle a situation like this and not let is run rampant in your imagination.

First, ask yourself, did you do everything within your power to for this situation?

Second, be patient. Things take time. Especially things of magnitude.

Third, do NOT worry. You’ve already done everything in your power. If you begin worrying, find a distraction for yourself. Get you mind off the situation you no longer control.

I wish I had known these little tips during that large software deal. I would probably have fewer grey hairs and would have consumed fewer calories.

December 9th: My worry had turned to fear. Maybe they forgot about this deal before they left for vacation? Maybe they decided to wait until the new year?

My management team was already discussing plans for how to mitigate the impact this deal’s loss would have on our bottom line. They were asking if I thought it would close in Q1 of NEXT year. I was a nervous wreck.

Then, as if on queue, I received an email from my client. “Josh, attached you will fin the signed/executed contract for the purchase of the software. We look forward to moving forward with implementation. Thanks.”

All that time, worry, frustration for nothing. All those sleepless nights rehashing my communications in my own head. I had done everything in my power. I should have just waited patiently and distracted myself.

As a side note, the signature on the contract was dated November 22.

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