My trainer, Rod White, who has great self-awareness had me performing a sadomasochistic exercise called a drop-set—five sets of 10 repetitions with no rest between sets but you get to drop the weight after each set. I was on my third set of 10 and nearly spent—put a fork in me I’m done, I thought. I kept going, though, and made it through nine reps of 10. Not bad, right? Darn good, in fact. And then Rod shouted, “C’MON MAN, NOBODY STOPS AT NINE!!!”

His words were good encouragement for exercise but may also be great to hear in life. We do stop at nine all the time at work and in our personal lives. We work and work and put in the effort and then, at some point, it gets too hard or we get lazy and we don’t finish what we started.

I know this because it’s happened with some of my clients professionally and personally. Raise your hand if you work in sales and you’ve witnessed this or been guilty of it. You do research, meet clients, follow up with face-to-face visits, and roll out the demo. You see that the prospects are interested and you’re already spending the commission check in your head. And then, unexpectedly, your prospect pulls out or puts you off with an excuse.

Well, that’s it, you think. You tried. You accept defeat, telling yourself it was not meant to be. If Rod were there, however, he would tell you in no uncertain terms that this is when you keep fighting, that this is exactly when you get the maximum gains. I use a sales analogy here because that is my world, but this kind of “giving up” occurs in many everyday situations.

I know what you’re asking now. How do you find the energy, the push or the drive not to stop at nine? It would be nice if you had a professional coach to shadow you all day and give you that “C’mon man!” when you need it, but that’s expensive and unnecessary. You already own three very important tools and have them at your disposal: self-awareness, confidence, and motivation. I know, I know. Getting past nine is easier said than done and I’m the one who couldn’t finish the drop-sets in one go. But bear with me as I offer a little advice!

First, take more advantage of your self-awareness. You know when you’re not pushing through. With Rod, I knew I had more in the tank and that I could get to ten when I stopped at nine. I just didn’t listen to myself at that moment. When you are present and fully engaged, you will be hyper-aware of what is happening. You will recognize that you can push through resistance and challenges and close the deal, finish the task, or complete the set. Often people will stop and bury themselves in phone calls, other tasks, or even a bottle. You don’t need to do this. Work to be present and control your emotions when you are in the red zone and then start thinking about your confidence.

Excuses—we say them all the time and we hear them from our peers and family. “It was not in the cards.” “He did not like me.” “It’s the economy.” I could go on and on. I could even ask you to post your favorite excuses as comments here. Maybe they would help me with Rod!

But excuses don’t solve anything. Have the confidence to take responsibility for what is happening. If you missed cues from a client during the sales process step-up, say this: “We covered this earlier. Can you let me know what has changed and why?” And then move forward. Or if you’re working on a frustrating project, dig deep, imagine what success looks like, tell yourself “I can do it,” and then get it done to keep yourself motivated.

What drives you? Is it the thrill of completing something someone said couldn’t be done? Is it money and/or praise from others? Know your motivation and set up rewards in advance. I work out because I’m motivated to stay healthy and be around for my children as they get older. When I heard Rod yell “NO ONE STOPS AT NINE!!!!” I saw my kids and, despite the pain, I picked the weight back up, pushed through, and did 11 more reps!

The Point!!!

Whatever you’re looking to achieve when you push yourself, obstacles and walls will appear. Maintaining your awareness of what’s holding you back, staying confident about your ability to succeed, and remembering what motivates you will help you reach your goals, close that deal, get in shape, or whatever. I know it can be done. I see it all the time with clients, with my kids, and with myself.

And finally, I wasn’t kidding about posting your favorite excuses in the comments. Please do. And if you’re having a difficult time achieving a goal, call me. Let’s see if we can work through it together and get you some amazing results.

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