Something exhilarating happens to me when I make a sale. Meeting someone for the first time, recognizing they need something that I have and forming a bond that could result in an exchange brings me immense joy. Using the skills and tools I have to identify if we could be the perfect fit, like milk and cookies, is what my career is all about. Usually, it takes time, more conversations, meetings, emails and references. Emotions are exposed; angst shared and hope of the future revealed. We create the bond that will allow us to trust each other, move forward and do the work we identified that needs to be done. I send an agreement. He/she asks for next steps and we schedule our first session as though we had been working together for years. An irrevocable bond is created and the future of their small business to be changed forever. For my business a win just happened.
Most people are challenged to celebrate their wins. In business we are trained to work hard, do our jobs, keep our heads down and clock in and out on time. We have become so trained to do, we have forgotten to be…and being is what life is all about.
Scientists have determined that no matter how small, accomplishment activates the reward circuitry of our brains. Yep, we actually are wired to experience and feel accomplishments. When one finally allows this pathway to be open, like an expressway after rush hour, a flood of key chemicals are released that give us a feeling of achievement and pride.
More specifically, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released which energizes us and gives us a feel good aura. Dopamine controls many functions of our bodies, from mobility, sex, lactation and even hunger. It also controls our feelings of happiness, feeling satisfied and love. Most importantly when dopamine is released, our bodies self recognize what caused the release, causing us to become addicts to that catalyst. This is why some people can become addicted to running, as well as to gambling. We crave that feeling and will do anything for it.
Even with the smallest of accomplishments, dopamine is released. So, when we celebrate our accomplishments, especially the small ones, we force ourselves to find what released the dopamine. Just as Pavlov trained those dogs with treats, we too can train ourselves with dopamine. If we can associate the activity that released the dopamine, we can slowly start programming ourselves with the activities we should be doing.
So, if connecting your dopamine releases to your business activities can create accountability, where do you start
1. Recognize what your “wins” are. In business we generally experience them in sales and delivery. Obtaining a client and then fulfilling them is the perfect balance of what achievement looks like for any small business. We must have new sales and give them what they paid for. Find what your “wins” are; big or small.
2. What do you actually do too acknowledge those wins? In this moment, think of yourself as one of those dogs Pavlov was either rewarding or punishing. What will stop you from moving on and allow you to appreciate what you just did? This could come in the form of self recognition, a high five, hug, a small gift, dinner out or a special treat from the bakery. Whatever it is, it has to be something that you want.
3. Make it consistent. To actually get your activities trained to your dopamine releases, many psychologists say you need to stay consistent. Behavior modification takes time. If anyone has broken a habit, potty trained a dog or child or grew an employee beyond their limitations, you understand what I am talking about. Staying consistent allows for the retraining to occur and before you know it the old is forgotten and the new retained. However, behaviors are tricky. The moment you stop your system, slowly the old can creep back into your world and before you know it, you are back to the self deprecation of what bad habits can create. Now that puppy is a 90 pound dog peeing on your favorite rug.
Innocently, I started to celebrate my sales wins. A small little fist pump, a smile and a spin in my chair happened naturally. My body knew it was an important accomplishment, as internally I could feel all that dopamine being released. These actions were so unconscious; they went unnoticed for many years. I would force myself to get back to work as quickly as I could stop my chair and move on. Head down and back to working that grind stone.
Eventually I started bringing my celebrations home, to those closest to me. I would share my wins with my husband, my children and my loyal Labrador. Their eyes would light up with excitement for me, high fives shared all around and messages of “good job” and “we are proud of you” filled the air. These celebrations made me feel really good and you know what? I liked it. I became intoxicated by the flood of dopamine that was released and a healthy addiction to my sales activity was born.
The importance of what sales activities meant for my business started to click inside of me. Realizing that celebrating my wins, kept the sales activity consistent, I created the “New Client Happy Dance”. With a special jiggle and song, hand motions and clapping, I now come home every day after a win and break out the “New Client Happy Dance”, to which everyone in the house joins in. This celebration has now become a sacred ritual, with rules; everyone has to be present, it must be done as soon as possible and the longer we dance, the better. I feel the accomplishment I just did and now want to do it again and again and again.
So, what is your version of the “happy dance”?