The name of this web property is thesalesblog.com, and naturally, I write a lot about sales, sales management, sales leadership, and sales improvement. The nature of sales, however, requires that one also touch other subjects like success, productivity, and mindset. This post is about success in any and every area of life.
In any endeavor where you want a different or better result, two factors are going to dominate your results: Intentionality and Action.
There is an idea I call “the drift.” It’s a metaphor, a sort of shorthand for the notion that without fighting against the currents, the world, the universe, and every other external force, these things will push you in a direction that is not of your making. “The drift” shows up in all places at all times, and most people are as unaware of it as they are unaware of gravity in their day-to-day life, even though they are subject to “the drift’s” laws and properties.
“The drift” shows up in your inbox, where other people make requests of you without your consent, shifting your focus to one hundred things that are not in line with your goals, your meaning, or your purpose. You might get caught up in “the drift” when you allow other people’s opinions and politics to trigger a negative response and a change in your mindset. “The drift” exerts its power when you open yourself up to the cabal of the technological attention-stealing companies that manipulate you into spending time on things that, while entertaining and enjoyable, push you in a direction that is not of your choosing.
You are in “the drift,” and so am I. If you imagine the drift as a fast running river and yourself as a piece of driftwood, then you understand the implication. The driftwood has no power to change its ultimate destination.
Intentionality is deciding for yourself what you want. It’s setting your own goals, your targets, your ultimate destination. First, you need an awareness that you live in “the drift,” and then you have to decide to go a different direction, which invariably requires you to move against the current—and one that is running fast in the opposite direction of your intentions.
There is an old saying that goes, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” The gist of the saying is that intentions don’t matter all that much, that there is something larger at play.
You can intend to fight “the drift.” You can want to reach some goal or target or destination of your choosing, but those intentions, while important, are impotent without action—and more action than you might imagine (“The drift” is a powerful force).
Effective action is action taken against “the drift.” A recent post I published on LinkedIn was a response to a post from another member who suggested that not quickly replying to an email or voicemail or text message would make one unresponsive, something their peers would believe makes them a bad teammate. The author of the original post would have you submit to “the drift,” while I would ask you to fight it with all your might, choosing to do purposeful, meaningful work instead (read my post for a “non-drift” framework to determine when you might reply based on the context of the message, not the medium).
No one reaches a goal by merely writing it down, even though writing it down helps maintain your focus over time. No one reaches a target by establishing the target alone, even though objectives are critical to the process of succeeding and achieving them. It’s incredibly challenging to live a life of your design and one in line with your purpose, meaning, and values without a vision of that life. However, without taking action on your intentions, your intentions are meaningless.
Actions against “the drift” starts with the work that contributes most to your goals before even looking at your inbox or the small screen of infinite distractions. One of the most potent actions you can take to fight against “the drift” is to refuse to be infected by other people’s ideas and opinions (this would be to swim with “the drift’s” strong current. This does not suggest you cannot or should not pay attention to what is going on in the world we share, but rather to have awareness without attachment.
Beating the Drift
“The drift” is a time and energy vampire. It will bleed you of both if you let it. But more than that, it will steal what is most important by distracting you from those few things, capturing your attention, having you live someone else’s expectation of you, and pushing you away from being what you might become, from doing what you might be doing, from having what you might possess, and from contributing what you are here to provide.