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‘Winging it’

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I’ve seen many pitches in interview in my time, some good, some not so good. Most follow the same path: “This is who I am and this is why I’m great”. Delivered well, succinct and subtle this works. However, during one of these elevator pitches, every now and again someone strikes a cord at the heart of your being and really makes you think.  I observed a pitch from a graduate which he entitled “winging it”, while the audience recoiled in fear he spoke eloquently about how if we are really going to push our boundaries then we need to be prepared to venture into the unknown and have the confidence to deal with what comes our way.

This really stuck with everyone in the audience and I couldn’t help agreeing with him.  Do we think that every business leader that took their position wasn’t initially taking a step into the unknown?  How Olympic champions have been in that exact situation before, with the same competition, in the same venue? Do we think that every graduate taking their first steps into their career wouldn’t be taking first steps into pastures new?  What about the sales person or recruitment professional that is improving their performance month on month, adapting their approach to improve their conversions or approaching larger clients with different needs?  I think in my own role, I have to deal with situations I have never handled before (some well and some badly!) from installing a new accounting system to training topics I haven’t trained out before.  The most financially and/or emotionally rich people I know have all had to wing it at some point throughout their careers.  All taking steps into the unknown, into unchartered territory and trying to make the best of it to be successful in their own right.  So what makes these people successful?

1. They remember that success is a decision, not a gift:  Successful people have already made a choice of what they want and why they want it, the emotional reason for what they are striving for.

2. They document and communicate their goals: having a documented goal, well communicated to those close to/supporting you is key.  As sales people we’ll naturally influence (subconsciously) every conversation we have to ensure that we get the result we need in order to achieve what we want for our clients and therefore ourselves.  

3. They make choices: mediocrity is a choice, excellence is also a choice.  Successful people, walking untrodden paths choose the path to success not mediocrity

4. They have a plan: they look at all the factors that will affect their success or not and as best they can formulate a plan to succeed.  Breaking their task into manageable chunks.

5. They are aware of and manage their weaknesses and strengths:  they reflect on themselves and learn to maximise their strengths and manage their weaknesses.  Often surrounding themselves with people that complement their weaknesses

6. They lean on others: fiercely competitive people are often very independent.  However, the word “competitor” is taken from a Latin root meaning to “seek together”!

7. They accept change: reflecting, adapting and evolving themselves allows successful people to adapt to any given situation, but also learn valuable lessons from their experiences.  Taking the time to reflect on situations is a key development tool, either in formal 1-2-1 scenarios or even on your own.

8. They prepare for the worst and hope for the best: mistakes are made and learned from.  However, successful people are able to anticipate and plan for errors to be made.  

9. They keep things in perspective: they have a higher emotional purpose over winning/losing/financial gain if you are defined by winning or losing, getting yes or no’s then you’ll be disappointed more often than not!

10. They stay positive: everyone has a slump and a bit of down time.  However, they can turn a “I can’t” into an “I can” instantly

If we are to really push ourselves, elevate ourselves to new heights and achieve new things we have to be prepared to venture into new territory. We have to be prepared to rely on the principles and core values that have brought us to that point and be prepared to take a step into the unknown. We have to be prepared to wing it.

What examples of winging it have you got?