Extreme results. Extreme desire. Extreme decisions.
The year is 1999. My Managing Partner (GA) at the time, Bob. Walks into the office one morning and smells smoke. There’s a fire in the office, he thinks.
Bob rushes in, past the rows of cubicles on the second floor of our office in downtown LA, tracking the smell – and now, a whisp of smoke in the air.
It leads him to my cubicle, where he stops abruptly with a quizzical look.
Sitting calmly at my desk, I’ve removed the plastic bag from the inside of my trash can. I’d then taken a stack of yellow cards off my desk – all of my leads and referrals (in those days, they were written on cards, not online), and put them inside the trash can.
Then, I took out a book of matches and lit the cards on fire.
Yes, I was burning all of my leads.
Bob looks at me and says, “Kid, what the hell are you doing?!”
Leads were the lifeblood of any planner’s chance at sales and commissions.
“Those are your leads, your business! They pay the bills!” Bob reiterated.
I looked up at him, my cards down to a smolder of ashes now, and told him, “No plan B.”
Bob looked at me for a moment, a confused look on his face.
Then, he got it.
He knew exactly what I was talking about.
Bob, always the good sport, simply looked at the trash can and laughed. He merely pointed to nearest fire extinguisher and walked into his office, closing the door.
No plan B.
What did Bob suddenly understand about my dramatic exhibition?
Up until that time, I’d been growing my business steadily, 10%-15% per year. That would be considered a success by most people’s standards, especially since I was so very young.
But I’d also grown increasingly very frustrated with that snail’s pace of growth, calling on the same people over and over again. While most people saw their cards (leads) as their lifeline, their safety net, I felt they were holding me back, keeping me from my true potential.
So, I decided to eliminate my ability to go back to those referrals, to tap into that same market. I would no longer repeat the same actions and expect different results.
It was time to burn the boats, as they say.
So, I literally lit my stack of referrals on fire!
By doing so, I instantly felt free. I’d eliminated any excuses. I would HAVE TO develop a better book of business, a better market, and reinvent myself to bring more value to my new clients.
From that day forward, I never looked back.
Since then, I’ve always focused on what was in front of me.
Look, things don’t always go perfectly or according to plan.
But, in the end, the desired outcome usually does bend to your will. You ARE how you handle adversity.
And just like in business, so it goes in life.
It also begs the question, what cards do I need to burn today so I can move forward, bigger and better than before?