by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
Is it possible that you are driving down the highway while staring at the speedometer instead of the road? That may be happening if you are checking your inventory a lot.
Imagine it…your eyes are intensely focused on your car’s gauges. While you continue to stare at the speedometer, you feel the rumble of the road beneath you, the sensation of the gas pedal under your foot and you see the blur of passing cars. How well can you drive when you sharply focus on measuring the miles per hour instead of looking up at the road?
Let’s avoid a crash! Checking your inventory occasionally is fine, of course. However, if you find that you cross the line by checking it to mentally escape, to cope with fear and anxiety, or to avoid important actives such as dialing, it may be causing a problem.
First, determine if checking your inventory is hurting your practice. If you are using it to close cases, then by all means continue! Sometimes, it’s not that and it can be a habit that does not serve you. Checking too much takes you out of the present moment where you can most effectively run your practice and mentally right into the past or the future.
If you are looking at your inventory report and mentally going to the past, you might find yourself thinking about cases that you can’t close and beating yourself up. “I’m going to lose my practice if I keep this up,” you might tell yourself with a racing heart. “This case that is falling through reminds me of two others that went badly. I’m not very good at this,” you tell yourself with a growing pit in your stomach. The inventory report can be used as a weapon when used to dig up regrets, recall perceived mistakes and make feel like you will never write enough business. No matter how much premium you write or how many years you have (or don’t have) in the business, anyone can fall into the trap of taking a trip down a hellish memory lane if you use this report to dwell on what could or should have been.
On the other hand, it you are frantically studying your inventory report to see what you can pull off by the 20th of the month you are likely mentally in the future. From that place, it’s easy to exaggerate your worries and fears and think the worst. Your fight-or-flight response is likely to get triggered if you scan your inventory and feel like there is not enough. There is nothing like scarcity to get your Lizard to come racing to save you even though there is only a perceived psychological threat and no real danger. Once you are in this state, your thoughts will turn black and white and you are likely to look at your practice in the worst possible light: there is never enough and your success hinges on this case or that case. In a Lizard state you are human repellent. Closing cases is even more challenging when your body is on full alert and sending a distress signal.
If either of these scenarios is happening then STOP and figure something else out. Ask your AFR or your mentor to review the report with you when it is truly productive. Limit yourself to reviewing it once per week when you are doing some planning. Or, if you can, delegate preparing and reading the report entirely to your AFR and have them update you only on your specific action items.
If you do feel compelled to look at your inventory, ask yourself what you are avoiding. It might shed some light on the real problem. For example, you may be trying to add up what business you think you will write so that you can make yourself feel more secure. Or perhaps you enjoy fantasizing about what writing that business might do for your practice. Whatever the reason, take a moment before you open the report to take a slow deep breath and ask yourself what you are feeling. If you are calmly viewing the report to make a plan—green light. If you find yourself feeling fearful, anxious or frustrated—red light. Pump the breaks and see if you can look up at the road. Where do you want to go with your practice? What route do you want to take? What do you want the ride to be like?
Slowing down, putting your hands firmly on the wheel and looking up and out over the speedometer to set your sights on the road is very powerful. Use the inventory report like the speedometer that it is and you will better make the rubber meet the road (and not the ditch!).