When Business or Life is Not Working– Its Dead: Get Off the Proverbial Dead Horse– Stop Dragging It Around…

When a horse is dead– it’s a dead horse, get off– there’s no sense in kicking or beating it– it’s a lost cause.

If the horse you’re riding is dead…Get Off! If you’re not getting anywhere in your business, life… if you keep doing the same old things day-in and day-out with the same old tiring and dismal results, then you’re riding a dead horse.

For example, if you are salespeople and the customer is unwilling or unable to make a reasonable commitment to move the sales process forward, then the salesperson must be willing to say– this isn’t working and consider the possibility of walking away from this sale opportunity.

If you are not willing to turn down business when things go sour, you’re going to be doing the equivalent of riding a dead horse. According to the tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation; when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

In contrast, many people in today’s business environment are in denial when they find out their ‘horse’ is dying or dead; they say things like– ‘This is the way we always have ridden the horse’ or ‘Appoint a committee to study the horse’ or ‘Buy stronger whip’ or  ‘Change riders’ or ‘Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position’ The analogies to business are readily apparent, and too often we focus on everything but the dead horse, and forget what it takes to win the race…

In the article Riding a Dead Horse by Peter Vajda writes: Dead horses are all ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ that drive our lives. Often completely unaware of them. These dead horses take the form of self-images that we think we need to live up to, beliefs, habits, routines… that run our lives; they show up as relentless demands and expectations we make on ourselves. These dead horses are forever showing up in our jobs, life styles, relationships, friends, co-workers, spouses, partners…

Yet, for no apparent reason, we continually find ourselves in states of; regret, agitation, irritation, frustration, resentment… as we continue to try to ride our dead horses. Perhaps right here and right now, you are spending precious time and energy trying to resuscitate your dead horses, painfully and frustratingly dragging them along into today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year…

We make ourselves believe if we just try harder that these dead horses will come to life, better than ever. Or, we tell ourselves if less demanding and more accepting these dead horses will generate renewed energy and live to ride again. Or perhaps, we wish, we hope, and we pray that a miracle will happen and our dead horses will suddenly become healthy so we can ride off into the sunset. Just like TV’s fantasies and fairy tales.

Maybe we’re rationalizing that our horse really isn’t dead; that all it needs is some good old R&R. So we reject reality and distract ourselves from the truth of our situation. After days, months… of resisting, rejecting, and distracting ourselves, we’re still waiting for the dead horse to show some life, and so we wait, and wait, hope and pray…to no avail.

Then, there are those of us who try to convince ourselves that life will be grand if we just– carry the horse: it will come out of its coma at some point. So, we just haul it around until life comes back… We think that if we nurture it, support it, help it… it will resurrect: Denial, Delusion…

In the article When Riding a Dead Horse, Dismount by Bill Carney writes: Most successful sales reps control the things which are under their power, at any given moment. They also can mitigate factors that are out of their control, which disrupt the flow of their process. One common flow disruption is– falling in the dead zone. For example; some sales reps will dismount without checking to see if the customer is actually dead, when the customer may not be responding; even though it might still be alive. 

Also, imagine that you’ve just met an ideal customer that fits your high probability profile. You’ve had first meeting, completed all your commitments… but, you hear nothing from the customer– no calls answered, no responded emails, no pulse… There are many statistics floating around that  indicate it’s harder than ever to get a productive engagements with customers. You may have a routine that work for customers, but now you may have come across a dead zone.

While it’s ok to stick with routine content that’s effective for some customers– you should strive to keep from being routine; all customers are different. Make sure that engagements are relevant; also, it pays to initiate quick checks, from time-to-time, to see if customer is still alive. If you don’t get a committed reaction it might be time to dismount, or pass them onto a marketing nurture campaign. If you do get a good response; it’s time to giddy-up…

In the article Don’t Gamble on Low Probability Prospects by Jeb Blount writes:  In the chorus of Kenny Roger’s famous song, ‘The Gambler’, the old gambler urges the young man to, ‘know when to walk away, know when to run’. Packing up and walking away from a deal that is going nowhere is one of the hardest things to do for a salesperson. Even some of the best salespeople continue to work on accounts that, from any observer’s point of view it’s a complete waste of time, but these sales pros are wise enough to know that some deals are just dead horses; it’s time to get off and move on. 

Then there are legions of other salespeople that never seem to let go. They hold on until the final painful moments when prospects, that never had any intention of buying, finally break the truth to them. They make excuses and they angrily blame the buyer, market, or competitors. I hear the same sad stories again and again. For example; deals lost, time wasted on prospects that were not the decision makers, already under long-term contracts, just shopping for price to keep their current vendor honest, or who were not in the buying window.

Each working day salespeople across the globe are surprised to find out– after investing blood, sweat, and tears, and promises to the boss– that the account they have been working on won’t close; riding the dead horse. And to make things worse, many of these salespeople were completely blind to all of the clues that were blinking like neon signs saying; this prospect will not close, move on!

On the other hand, I know sales professionals who have a keen sense of the viability of a deal. For example; using solid questioning strategies, simple mental checklist, intuition… they can quickly extract themselves from a sales process once they believe that the prospect or customer is unprofitable or a waste of time. This ability serves them well because it allows them to focus their most valuable resource– time– on accounts that have a high probability of closing, even though sometimes it may be wrong. These are the sales pros that produce the most consistent results year in and year out… and, they quickly dismount the dead or dying horses…

Generations of just doing what we’ve been told have left far too many of us in a mind-numbing and habituated way of thinking and living. For far too long, we’ve allowed ourselves to just keep doing what we’ve always done–mindless and without consideration of  consequences… This is your wake-up call! Change Your World!  Tired of having the same old conversations in the same old way? Be the one to make the difference and lead the way…

According to Harry K. Jones; organizations need to get serious about identifying stumbling blocks, sacred cows, dead horses… and not waste time; just eliminate them. The sooner it gets done; the sooner you can focus on more productive and profitable targets. Organizations no longer have the luxury to allow the dead horses to weigh them down in their journey to success…

According to Peter Vajda; are you just telling yourself a story– having set out with good intentions, believing in what you thought was your vision or purpose, working hard and sacrificing along the way, becoming who you thought you should be, or perhaps even giving up what you wanted or who you wanted to be– that if you just ‘stick it out’; all will be well? 

But, are we in denial, with false hopes, as we keep egging-on our horses. We dig in our spurs, but move nowhere. Or, we’re stuck on a plastic horse on merry-go-round, moving, always engaged in doing, going around in circles, but in reality, going nowhere. 

People who ride dead horses every day know what they have to do, but they have no idea where they’re going… At end of day, the bottom line is simply: when the horse dies, get off!  A year from today, your life will be different. Guaranteed, it will be different! Whether it’s good different or bad different, is the choice. Much depends on whether the horses you’re riding are healthy or dead.

According to Anne Sadovsky; the way you did your job last week is questionable this week, and probably obsolete next week! We all know it– yet we still feel surprised and even resist it, while things change around us.

In fact, some people dig in their heels, and declare it was okay the way we’ve always done it, only to be left behind. These are the folks trying to ride dead horses…