Each time you confront a challenge, the first thing you must do is take charge of the conversation inside your head. You need to build a strong platform to lead others. You need to be able to keep your focus steady even when the voices around you are telling you to quit. And you need to be able to inspire your team members to shut those voices out too.
We have all encountered moments when our mind-sets and emotions are conflicted, when our head tells us to stop and our heart tells us to keep going. It’s these very “conversations” that I’m encouraging you to have with yourself. They will bring you clarity about your purpose and your direction and enable you to bring that clarity to your actions and to your team.
Your Focus Determines Your Actions
Shortly after my company, Perfect Fitness, was recognized by Inc. magazine as the fastest-growing consumer products company in the United States (number four overall), our bank froze our credit line.
Now, I’m not trying to play the victim here. We had just told bank managers that we were going to break a couple of covenants in our credit contract, and it was March 2009, the height of the global economic downturn.
We had a $15 million line of credit; we owed $8.8 million and had been with this bank for only six months when they decided we weren’t a fit for them any longer. They wanted us to pay them back within thirty days.
Their focus, which was the focus they wanted us to have, was “how much of their money can the bank get back in the next thirty days?” They were willing to negotiate with us as to how much we would pay them back.
Had we accepted their focus, we would have been bankrupt on the thirty-first day, the day after we paid them back. Our focus, however, was on weathering what became a perfect storm of events, from our bank’s twitchiness to the shifting retail landscape to the volatility of the financial markets.
In the bank’s defense, their concerns were not without merit. In the previous three months, our sales had dropped radically, due to changes in the marketplace. So, focusing on what the bank was going to lose made sense—for the bank. But for my team, the focus had to be on survival, on how to adapt to the changes and come out stronger and ready to make new moves.
Your Actions Determine Your Outcomes
There were plenty of other lessons I would learn from this crisis, but for now the one I want to impress upon you is this: where you put your focus will determine your actions. We chose to put our focus on convincing the bank that we needed more time, not on trying to get discounts on our loan balance.
We created a specialized team to get the bankers to align their focus with ours. And guess what happened. Day by day, week by week, the banking team slowly shifted their focus to our focus of paying them back in full over a longer period. Eleven months later, we repaid every dime while keeping the company alive and growing our product line.
As an entrepreneur, I could ride this wave of uncertainty because I’d been there before. As with my SEAL instructors, the bankers kept telling us that we wouldn’t make it. Quit now, they said, because that’s your only option.
Nevertheless, our focus drove us to take different actions—to find ways to keep our company afloat and growing. We had built our own unstoppable team while dealing with an obstacle that a lot of so-called experts said was insurmountable.
How to Stay Motivated and Not Give Up
How is it that certain successful people can keep taking actions toward a goal and not give up, while others who have similar capabilities decide to give up? Persistence is the key to achieving your dream, and knowing what goes into creating an action can go a long way toward achieving your goal.
I call it the Action Formula; but fear not, it’s not a complicated formula—it’s simple—just hard to do consistently. Read about the Action Formula here. Win the battle in your head, and you’ve won 80% of the challenge—the rest is taking the action and repeating it.
Learn More About Building Unstoppable Teams
Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership
Unstoppable Teams is the handbook for how to build care-based teams that will push people to achieve more than they ever thought possible.