Monday, July 26, 2010

Never Confuse RPM with Torque

I got my first really awesome sales job in the  mid-90's. I was really confident in the interview and made all sorts of promises about being a diamond in the rough, etc.  'Robert' (who was one of the best bosses and mentors I could have ever lucked into) bought that-my first real sales pitch I suppose-and gave me the job. I was very determined to not only prove that I was worthy of the faith he put in me but to also be a VSBW (Very Successful Business Woman) in my own mind. 

As most really good managers do, he watched me. He hovered around my desk when I made my cold calls and he rode with me to pitch new clients. He saw me bring tons of office supplies from the supply closet and even supplement them with those I purchased myself.  He saw me come in earlier and stay later than everyone else around me. I made sure I was very very busy.

One morning he called me into his office.  He asked me how I thought it was going, how I liked it and how I thought I was doing.  At some point the words 'I work really hard' must have slipped out of my mouth. He leaned into me and said 'The first thing you have to do is learn to never confuse RPM with Torque.'  It took me a few minutes to figure it out...I think it was after he said something like 'Do you get what I'm saying?' but I DID get it...I just didn't know what I was doing wrong.  Over time that saying has remained one of my favorites. We all get so very busy but sometimes don't always analyze our torque against our RPM.  I know I have to revisit that phrase when:
  • I find myself frustrated several days in a row
  • When all of my files stay in my To-Do pile longer than a few days
  • When I have conversations with clients or prospects and leave the meeting with no clear idea of what my very next step with them is
  • When the words 'I'm really busy' come out of my mouth
  • When I start to lack a sense of accomplishment on anything
As someone whose hard-earned corner office is in her home, I find myself falling into this trap more than I might if I worked in a staffed corporate office. I have to be careful to not get caught up in anything other than my work during the hours I'm at my desk. I have to go into conversations with a clear resolution to move something forward even if it is just to advance the relationship I have with that client. I have to force myself to do something-make a note, file, make a phone call, delegate to my staff-with every file or project folder I touch. Sometimes I have to just find something that I can work on and finish in a few minutes time so I can feel that I did something to completion.

It's easy for me to feel busy...I have to remember it's important to be busy doing something that makes an impact. How do others keep from falling into the 'always busy but never completing' pit?


Beth Zimmerman said...

I haven't figured it out yet! I do okay at work because I prioritize and the work tasks get done before my stuff (blogging, e-mail, bills, etc.) but at home there is always one more thing crying for my attention and I want to ignore all of it and just vegetate! If you figure it out ... pass the secret my way!

Cynthia at A Shimmy In My Spirit said...

Great post. I have never heard that phrase before but it is certainly one I am going to be thinking about. Thanks.