A few years ago I dipped my toe into gardening with an herb garden in my home office. I’ve continued every summer and this year I’ve branched out to a few pepper and tomato plants in the yard.
When I first started I wrote a piece about the metaphor of planting seeds in your business. The goal as I saw it was to see the value in activities that could have a payoff down the line. This summer I clarified another insight.
Plant a lot of seeds because not all seeds you plant will grow and flourish.
For example, this summer I’ve think I’ve gotten the hang of peppers. My habanero and serrano plants are bushy and full of fruit (we’re getting ready for some pretty tasty salsa). On the other hand, rosemary and thyme are my bane. Or rather, I’m the bane of rosemary and thyme. I can kill one of them so fast that even my wife is surprised.
So am I successful in my gardening or not?
Overall wins will beat a high win percentage
I had a mentor who used to say that your business was either green and growing or brown and dying. And while that’s not incorrect, I think it’s a little too simplistic. If you want to find overall success, your professional world will have both parts that are blooming and that are wilting on the vine.
Whenever we try something in our professional lives, we know it might not work out. Our sales prospect might reject us, our marketing campaign might falter, or our new hire might be a dud. I could list a string of products and services I’ve offered over the years that haven’t boomed like I had hoped.
Yet we move forward because we know we can’t have things go well if we don’t at least try.
So let me throw out an idea: it’s not about having the best win/loss percentage, but having as many wins as you can over-all. When a salesperson tells me they have a super-high closing percentage, it usually indicates that they aren’t making enough attempts. It’s not to just engage in activities that might have a payoff down the line. It’s about engaging in a lot of them because they might sputter and die.
Build Your Seed Planting Ability
Does that mean I should stop trying to get better at gardening, and just rely on planting a lot of seeds only? Of course not! The reason I’m getting better at growing peppers is that I was horrible the last few years, but I kept practicing and learning.
But when you break it down, the best skill to learn is resilience in the face of the failures. Because then you’ll keep planting more seeds. And that’s the key.
Some of the attempts you’ve made in your professional life have gone well. And some haven’t. Spend some attention and focus trying to improve that ratio.
Then go spend the rest of that energy making more attempts.