Touching the Void in Sales and Recruitment
I realised that I was getting older when I recently asked a group of candidates we successfully placed and trained whether they had read the book or seen the big screen documentary called ‘Touching The Void’. To my surprise not one of them had even heard of it. On reflection, not knowing about the book is understandable – although it won many awards, it was first published in 1988. The film, however, came out more recently, was featured at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and won Best British Film at the BAFTAs, but I get it is still a while back
If you haven’t seen it or read it then I would recommend that you do. It is the remarkable and awe-inspiring true story of two guys who climb the previously unclimbed west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. This was an amazing feat in itself, but then disaster struck and this is where the majority of the story focuses.
He did what?
I won’t recount the whole story as that is for you to enjoy at your leisure. Suffice to say that one of the guys, Joe Simpson, was left in an almost hopeless situation after smashing his leg, falling hundreds of feet into a deep crevasse and being left for dead. Not only did he manage to climb out of the crevasse with severely frost bitten hands, a broken leg, hypothermia and extreme exhaustion, but he then spent the next three days without food and almost no water, crawling and hopping the five miles back to base camp.
The real lesson in this story (and there are always big lessons to be learnt from stories like this) is how he managed to keep going mentally. Most of us, and I am including myself in this statement, would have looked at the situation ahead of us and assumed that it was impossible. I expect that most of us would have all thrown the towel in long before he did, given up, given in, and, in truth, we would not be here today.
Simpson’s survival strategy was simple; he broke down the almost impossible task into potentially do-able chunks. He would aim to get to the rock two metres away from him as quickly as he could and he would time himself as he went. He would then aim to get to the next rock and so on, each time challenging himself as to how quickly he could achieve the task. He then repeated this many times until he had ultimately achieved the ‘impossible’.
…and for recruiters and salespeople?
On a micro level, when we train new consultants, this is where I often see them fail. They look at where they want to be and where they are now and then they get completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. This prevents them from taking action, or from being fully motivated to take action.
If you question whether something is possible or not then it is then very hard to get fully behind it. It is amazing how the act of breaking something down into manageable chunks can make something suddenly seem very possible. Even a bullish target for the month that can feel intimidating at first will usually start to look very possible if it is broken down into what needs to be done each day or each hour.
It is not just less daunting to break down your tasks into bite size chunks; it is also hugely motivational. When you can see clearly that delivering on a certain task today is part of delivering a far larger objective later – one that is something that you really want to achieve – this provides significant motivation in the present.
Although it is highly unlikely that you will have been taught this skill as part of your formal education, it is an essential life skill if we want to achieve great things (which is what we all want right!?!), so if you are not doing this already start breaking down your objectives into smaller tasks and watch as your productivity starts to soar.