The Oh-No Effect

Chad is a real estate salesperson who is at an odd place in his career. He’s done well enough that people see him as successful, but from his perspective, he is struggling. He worries every month about the bills, plus he lets down his family and isn’t sure if this job is a good fit. Deciding that this was the year of “do or die,” Chad decided to fully commit and hired a business coach. That’s when I started working with him.

The first order of business was to evaluate Chad’s business history (what type of prospecting he had done, his business habits, etc.). Then we started building a plan that combined his strengths with proven prospecting methods that could be performed consistently. With the evaluation and planning stages complete, it was time for the rubber to meet the road. This is where we ran into trouble.

At our first meeting after Chad began executing the plan, he came excited to report his activities. Yes, he had been very busy, but he had been busy with activities that were not direct income-producing activities. He was working around the plan….he was not working the plan. At that meeting, we talked through the course corrections, and off he went for another week.

The next week, the same pattern emerged…lots of activities, none of them income-producing. Time for some tough love. “How is it that you made the decision not to complete any prospecting activities this week?” I asked him in a very level tone. This may seem harsh but my intention was to shock him and move our conversations to a new place. Now we started talking about what was getting in his way.

The problem Chad struggled with is not uncommon…I call it the “Oh-No Effect.”

As he thought about more success, the possible negative consequences of more success entered his thoughts. The result? When Chad thought about closing more businesses, he also thought about the amount of work that meant. That thought led to the amount of time away from his family, which led to thoughts about his wife leaving him from lack of attention! His mind was screaming, “Oh-No”! The result was no prospecting activities. But were these consequences real?

You see, when we are faced with activities that are outside our comfort zone, like a new prospecting activity, our brain tries to prevent us from leaving that comfort zone. The brain is a genius at this task; knowing all the right buttons to push. The result is our self-talk presents a list of consequences that could rival a Greek tragedy. Certainly, after hearing all these bad events that will occur by doing this activity, no one in their right mind would prospect! All of this happens subconsciously. This was the issue with Chad.

So how do we get past our brain’s negative messages? Here are three strategies:

Strategy #1 – Seek out someone who already has the level of success that you want. What does their life look like? You will probably find that their level of success has not ruined their personal life. The person has learned to make changes to accommodate both a strong business and a good life.

Strategy #2 – Set an interim goal. Many times, we cannot set a course that will take us over the horizon because we can’t see what’s on the other side. So change the goal to be a “half” goal. Set a goal that is a stretch for you but is doable. Establish a habit of re-assessing your goals frequently.

Strategy #3 – Affirm your vision. Psychologists tell us that when this mental conflict occurs (i.e., the Oh-No Effect), the clearest vision or “why” wins. If the negative is the clearest, then you will not do the activities. If the positive is crystal clear (you can feel it, see it, smell it, taste it), then the positive “why” will win and focus you.

Examples of these positive “whys” may be ensuring your children complete college with no debt or a bigger house, being of service, or funding a cause near your heart. I had a coaching client who was motivated by a cause. Each year she and a team of other women participated in building houses in Guatemala for a month. In her office, there was a big picture of her on the roof of one of these houses with the biggest smile on her face. She reported that each day her ritual was to close her eyes and think about the faces of the families that now had a house. This was the source of her motivation.

What does this mean to you? Spend some time developing this vision/why. Make the rewards clear. Post pictures of those rewards.

Although each of these strategies can be executed individually, together, they are powerful. Of course, the question is….are you experiencing the “Oh-No Effect” somewhere in your business?