Did you know that your mind wanders up to 50% of the time? And that when it wanders it will drift to negative thoughts up to 80% of the time? Read on to find out a simple strategy to help you re-focus in sales meetings.

Ronan, I have an awful habit of wandering. I mean my mind wanders constantly. It is funny as I have only started to realise how much it wanders because it is a subject you raise regularly.

Describe to me what you mean.

Well, I was meeting a customer. Our largest customer to be precise. We were discussing our second-half plan for them. Their primary contact is Joe and to be honest; he drives me nuts.

Nuts? How so?

Well, he rambles a lot. He starts talking and before you know it he is off topic. And wandering into territory, I could never have anticipated. It is not unusual for him to ramble for several minutes. And that is where I struggle.

Go on.

For example, I was thinking about my upcoming holidays. Thinking is probably an understatement. I was lost in thought. I was there in my thoughts. Immersed in a dream-like state. And I completely lost track of what he was talking about. Then I heard “Mike, what do you think about that”?

How did you deal with it?

I just said, “I agree”. He seemed happy with my response. But after the meeting, my colleague cornered me and said: “what the hell did you agree to that for”?

What did you agree to?

I had said yes to delivering extra people on a project for 5 days at no cost. No cost! I mean, I had absolutely no idea what I was agreeing to. And it has made me very conscious of a trait I didn’t realise I had. I’m losing track of conversations regularly. My mind is wandering off topic all of the time. Yesterday was an extreme example, and the consequence was severe. But, I am realising that I need to do something to ensure I am more focused.

Did you know that your mind wanders up to 50% of the time?

Did you know that your mind wanders up to 50% of the time? 

Are you serious, Ronan?

Yes, that is what the science is telling us. And when the mind wanders, it will drift to negative thoughts 80% of the time.

Ronan, they are two scary statistics. Am I one of the lucky ones?

In what sense?

My mind is wandering off to my holidays. That is hardly a negative thought.

Yeah, maybe you are. It is more likely that you are just unconscious of the time your mind spends focusing on negative outcomes. For example, you can be reading your favourite book and out of nothing you are brought back to reality. You forgot to put the bin out this morning. And it takes your thoughts over.

Thanks, Ronan, you have just reminded me that I didn’t put the bloody bins out this morning.

So, there are some things you can do. And the first is a step you already taking. Self-awareness. An awareness of your thoughts and when your mind drifts is a great starting point. Once you are aware, you can do something about it.

Yes, but, that is just a recent phenomenon. I have not been aware up to now. And I have no idea how much damage I have already inflicted.

That is the past. Let’s look forward and focus on how you can deal with it. First, accept that you are normal. Everyone’s mind wanders. Second, develop a simple plan to intervene, when you drift. I play the guitar so as you will see my nails are longer on my right hand. It is my picking hand. And long nails have a secondary advantage. I stab myself with one everytime my mind wanders. It is amazing what a little jolt of pain does to get your mind re-focused.

Ronan, are you kidding me?

No, seriously. It works for me. It is a cue. And the way to break habits is to create a cue, which enables you to re-centre, or re-focus. When I notice I am losing focus, it brings me back online, so to speak.

So, you are advocating some self-harm to ensure I get focused. That could be illegal, Ronan.

I’ll consult my lawyers, but, in the meantime what could you do?

I think your idea is a good one. I don’t have long nails, but I will pinch myself. I actually like the idea of having a physical cue. It will help me reinforce the new behaviour.

OK, why don’t you start with that and we can re-visit the subject when we talk next.

Agreed, Ronan. Thanks for that and I look forward to trying it out. Talk soon.


Ronan, is a business and sales coach who helps you generate More Profitable Sales. More Sustainably. In Less Time.

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