I once asked an ex-special forces solder, who had served in some of the roughest parts of the world, what they would advise when you are trying to achieve something specific and the situation is getting stressful with people giving you verbal abuse and even threatening physical harm.
What they said was
“Focus on the mission.”
He explained that prior to any mission there would be a briefing in which the primary and secondary objectives would be outlined as would the mission plan. The mission plan would be the best option, as it was felt at that point, to achieve the mission objectives.
Now the military knows that what you plan and what happens don’t match – indeed there is a famous quote by Helmuth von Moltke, a German military strategist who said
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy”
However no military action would ever start without an initial plan. Just because it’s going to need to be adapted in the field doesn’t invalidate the plan or the planning stage.
The idea with a battle, or mission, plan is that you come up with the plan that is least likely to need to be adapted, allows for easy adaptation if necessary and gives you the highest starting chance of achieving your objectives.
Then when you are in the field and all sorts of stuff is happening that wasn’t expected or desired then you ‘focus on the mission’.
Now I asked this individual for the advice because I was having a recurring issue of having to deal, in person, with a specific group of people who were verbally and physically aggressive. Yet I remember thinking at the time that this was solid advice for us in the recruitment field.
To give you an example ‘Focus on the mission’ ties into the classic recruitment advice that periodically in your day you should ask yourself:
“Is what I’m doing making me money?”
If the answer is ‘no’ then probably you should stop and do something else.
After all isn’t our ultimate mission goal in recruitment to be successful and make money?
To give you another example if you decide that this morning is the time to do business development then everything else – emails, conversations with colleagues, candidate calls, and research – are all distractions from your primary objective of winning new business.
Everything you do for those hours of business development should only be about business development – that’s focusing on the mission.
Similarly whilst you are making your business development calls and you are getting shunted aside by dismissive receptionists and PA’s or being insulted by rude decision makers you need to maintain your emotional balance and focus on your mission.
The decision maker who is rude today might warm up next time and the time after they might do business with you.
In military speak your ‘mission parameters’ should include developing future business as well as quick wins. And that means you need to be emotionally resilient to take some emotional punches and react calmly.
For myself having taken on-board this ex-soldiers advice I found that when things were getting rough, by ‘focusing on the mission’ I was able to mentally and emotionally sidestep a lot of the angst that I had been experiencing before.
That left me more able to react positively and quickly as I was able to focus on getting what I had set out for rather than have my energies scattered and dissipated by the obstacles that occurred.
The consequence was that I was achieving my objectives more easily and with less emotional drain. Interestingly also as I got into the habit of acting in this focused way my successes seemed to become quicker and easier.
It was almost as if before, when I was less focused, I was inviting obstacles due to my willingness to discuss or engage with them. By focusing I found I was letting things go, not responding to every minor objection and this seemed to create fewer opportunities for the other people to create new issues.
I have also found that applying the principle in sales and recruitment has exactly the same benefits so remember; when objections and obstacles arise, focus on the mission.
Until next time; be successful
Development Specialist, Edenchanges.com
Original stock photograph can be found here; above image manipulated and produced by Edenchanges.