Like most salespeople, I suffer from a total squirrel mentality. I’m always going; always trying to do a million things at once. If not properly managed, this can obviously lead to an extraordinary amount of stress—and stress is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to success.
Meditation has long been recommended to reduce stress levels and increase focus. That didn’t prevent me from thinking it was entirely too hokey and a total waste of my time, though. I tried it for two whole days in a row before making up every excuse in the world about why it wasn’t going to work for me.
But then something happened.
I watched as meditation made a massive difference in the life of my husband, Shane. It got to the point that I could tell, based on his mood and behavior, whether or not he’d meditated that day. He’s always been my smarter half, so I figured maybe he was on to a good thing!
In January, I decided to give meditation another shot. I’ve now meditated at least once a day for over 200 days in a row. The results have been simply amazing. I use the guided meditation app Calm, and the daily meditation takes just ten minutes of my day.
The Benefits of Meditation for Me
Regular meditation has made a massive impact on my patience level. It’s taught me that I can greatly influence my mood and stress levels. When I get tense or stressed, I’m more likely to notice it. Then, I can take a moment to center myself, slow down my breathing, lower my heart rate, and continue what I was doing in a more focused, deliberate manner.
Sometimes, just a few seconds of focused, relaxed breathing can stop the spiral of stress in its tracks and turn my whole day around. These small “retreats” can happen anywhere I start to feel tense—at a stop light, sitting at my desk, or walking down a hallway. Just a year ago, I would never have imagined that I could be so calm and relaxed sitting in a dentist’s chair, waiting in a doctor’s office waiting room, or even getting an MRI.
But What Does it Have to do With Sales?
My newfound mindfulness practice allows me to “come down” in situations where being calm and focused are key to landing and closing business. Before going into a big proposal meeting, for instance, I’ll stop and take three deep breaths, which allows me to walk in feeling relaxed.
So, if you’re stressed about a client canceling on you, or traffic that’s making you late for a big meeting, you can create a headspace of “OK, we have a plan for this…we can fix this,” instead of going into hyper-freakout mode because you’re so amped up.
And it’s not just me. As hesitant as I originally was, I’ve now convinced 10+ of my clients to meditate daily, and every time I talk to one them, they tell me how much it has helped their business. These are people who are constantly in high-stress situations, negotiating major deals or managing teams of salespeople.
In fact, I was just talking to one of my clients a few weeks ago about how meditation has changed him. He runs a multi-million-dollar company, and he said his meditation practice changed the way he runs his business. Now, whenever he has to make a significant judgment call—hiring or firing someone, or any other major decision—he waits until the next morning. He said, “My mind is clearest right after I meditate, so I know I’ll make a better decision if I do it right then.”
How to Meditate
Take a deep slow breath, hold it for two seconds and let it out, slowly. Now, let your shoulders drop. Relax that little spot in between your eyes (or wherever you hold tension) and try it again. If you do this five times, it’s amazing how much it will calm you down.
Now, let your breathing return to a natural pace and just mentally follow along, focusing on nothing but your breath. When you’re new to meditating, it can help to silently think the words “breathing in” while you breathe in, and “breathing out” as you breathe out. If you notice your mind has wandered, recognize it, let that thought go, and then go back to focusing on your breath again.
One thing I decided at the outset is that I wasn’t going to get frustrated with myself if my mind wandered. I’ve learned to observe those wandering thoughts as they pass and then return to focusing on my breath. If my mind really wants to wander, I find that counting my breaths helps. I count up to ten and back down to zero.
My favorite time to meditate is first thing in the morning. But if I’m on the road for work, I double up, as I love doing the deep sleep meditation in my hotel room right before going to bed.
After a morning meditation, many find an increased sense of clarity. You may find that the stressful pressure of everything that needs to get done today has been replaced with a calm, clear picture of what’s most important and needs your focus.
Shane and I both use the Calm app, but I’ve also heard good things about Headspace and Dan Harris’ 10% Happier app. Most apps have a trial period so that you can find what works best for you. There are also free guided meditation channels on YouTube.
If you want to learn more about how “normal people” use meditation to help them become top performers, listen to Tim Ferriss’s podcast or read his book, Tools of Titans. Tim claims over 80% of the world-class performers he has interviewed have some form of daily meditation or mindfulness practice. I’m also a fan of Dan Harris’ book on meditation—which is also called 10% Happier.
Get Out of Your Head
Remember, a guided meditation doesn’t mean you’re sitting on the floor with your legs crossed chanting OM. You don’t have to eat granola or become a Buddist to get the scientifically proven benefits of meditation. And if you just can’t bring yourself to try “meditation”, then try spending 10 minutes each morning praying silently, having thoughts of gratitude, or just trying to keep your mind still.
Sometimes we have to turn off the noise in our heads and it’s okay to give yourself permission to have just ten minutes of quiet to stop your stinkin’ thinkin’! It’s amazing that just a few deep breaths can change the entire course of your day.
Until next time—go sell some stuff!