Think about the things that you want to change in your life – drop some weight maybe, or get in shape? Perhaps you want to write a book, start saving for retirement or learn to play a musical instrument or another language? Truth is you already know how to get things done – you just haven’t quite gotten around to doing it yet.
Drop weight and get in shape? For most people that means you need to eat less and move more. Of course some people have significant health obstacles that don’t let them get things done but for most of us the path to better health is pretty clear.
Want to write a book? It’s simple – a page a day produces a book a year. All you have to do to get things done is plop your butt in your chair, put your fingers on your keyboard, and get to work.
Need to put away more money for retirement? The best way is to start putting away more money for retirement. Again, some people have real problems that frustrate their efforts to get things done but for most of us a few fewer dinners out, fewer trips to Starbucks, and a little more discipline with our charge cards would help a lot.
Want to learn to play the guitar or to speak Spanish? You do it the same way you get to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice, practice.
Here’s the thing though: Did I just reveal any super secret strategies you’d never thought of to get things done? Of course not – you already know how to do all those things we’re talking about. The reason they’re not getting done is because you’re not invested in doing them.
In a meeting with a potential client a few years ago my prospect talked enthusiastically about a great new business book she was reading. I dutifully wrote down the title and author’s name and had every intention of purchasing and reading the book the first chance I got.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy doing other things,” and he was right – that’s exactly what happened to me. There was so much going on and it wasn’t like I didn’t already have a big stack of books piled up on my nightstand and in my Kindle. I’m embarrassed to tell you that I never bought – or read – the recommended book. Hey, I was reading as fast as I could.
But finally realizing that people probably don’t get around to purchasing or reading the books that I was recommending either, I came up with a new strategy. I started buying the books I suggested other people read and would send them along as unsolicited gifts. I’d simply buy them locally at Books & Books and drop them into FedEx. If I was in a real hurry I’d hop right onto Amazon from my smartphone and order my gift books before I even left the prospect’s parking lot.
The only problem was that when I’d ask people how they liked the books I was sending, they’d hem and haw and then sheepishly admit that they hadn’t even turned to page one. Sure they were excited to receive the free books and they really did mean to read them, and they appreciated it and all but they just hadn’t gotten around to actually reading them yet.
What I discovered was that people don’t read the books they don’t buy because they’ve got nothing invested in the task. And so learning how to get things done not only changed my gift giving habits but altered my pricing strategies as well.
When do people buy home security systems? AFTER their houses get broken into.
When do people start exercising? AFTER they have their first heart attack.
When do people listen to their attorney? AFTER they either get sued or AFTER they pay big legal bills.
Free advice isn’t worth what you pay for it NOT because the advice itself is necessarily bad but because it’s not implemented. Unfortunately it’s not until your customer has some skin in the game that they’re willing to take the steps necessary to figure out how to get things done.
Quite simply, people’s attention follows their investment. THAT’S how to get things done.
And that explains why people don’t read books until AFTER they’ve paid for them.