Beware of the Company You Keep


When I’m With Myself … I’m In Bad Company

“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” – Epictetus (Greek philosopher)

A participant in a recent workshop shared this insightful quote, “When I’m with myself, I’m in bad company.” This is particularly relevant to all of us in Business Development. In this role, we encounter various challenges, both mechanical and conceptual. Typically, it’s our conceptual shortcomings that hold us back. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t aware of our own psychological limitations or we simply choose to ignore these faults.

If we stay in the BD role long enough, we learn the basic mechanics, like being inquisitive, asking questions, understanding problems, crafting solutions and engaging people in meaningful dialogue. As we mature, we discover that the conceptual challenges we’ve ignored or overlooked suddenly become limitations. We might feel the need to answer questions instead of probing for more information, exhibit over-determined behavior, or feel pressure to be compliant to prospects’ requests or expectations … without ever understanding why. Regardless of our efforts to avoid them, conceptual challenges seem to be with us all the time and will consistently hold us back unless we identify and deal with the root cause.

If we are fortunate, we get exposure to good training that addresses both the mechanical and conceptual challenges in Business Development. This is key to identifying the issues that hold us back, and it gives us an opportunity to learn from other BD professionals. Only through a commitment to personal and professional development can change occur. Then begins the hard work to minimize or eliminate obstacles. To do this effectively, we must start with making a commitment to being the best we can be in the role, setting professional goals and plans, working on our careers, and working on ourselves personally.

Once we realize that we are the common factor for many of the challenges we experience in BD, we’ll take the responsibility to root out the cause. We’ll analyze and eliminate obsolete thinking, beliefs and feelings that compel us to do something that hinders development of the business relationship or prevents us from everything we’re capable of accomplishing in the role.

Of the 4 Cornerstones of Business Development, it’s behavioral psychology … the people science of understanding ourselves and others … that is most critical to our success. The utmost challenge is to know ourselves and recognize our own outdated thinking that no longer serves us in our Business Development role.



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