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Lessons from the Piano: Why Practice Is the Key to Success

Why there’s no such thing as a “quick fix” that lasts.

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I’M ALWAYS CHALLENGING myself as a musician to go further, to learn more, to get better. Now here’s the interesting thing: I COULD HAVE stopped when I was 25 years old, knowing what I knew at the time. I played well. I made money playing in bands. In fact, I paid my way through college with that money. And with that set of musical chops, I could have floated along for decades just playing in wedding bands.

But to me that was boring. I didn’t want to settle for “Louie Louie” and “Gimme Some Lovin.” I wanted to play Steely Dan, blues, jazz and Bruce Hornsby. So I kept at it a little bit each day.

I often get a kick out of people who come up to me and say, “Jimmy, I wanna learn to play piano like that.” The optimist in me says, “Go for it! Here’s what you should do.” But in my heart, I know they most likely aren’t going to do it unless that pleasant little desire turns into a passion. It’s like anything really. We won’t do it unless there’s a real powerful driving passion for it.

Business folks are the same way when it comes to improving their stores, especially when it comes to training their teams. Often they want the quick fix, the one-time visit or the great book or class. I think back to what my friend Brad Huisken says regarding training: “Sales training doesn’t work if it’s an event! It only works if it’s an ongoing effort to get better.” This is why we often see numbers jump up temporarily after a seminar or purchasing something new like a jewelry line or new software … or a sales training. But then after a few months go by and all your customers have seen the line, sales trail back down.

It’s why we have church every week. It’s why we brush our teeth every single day. It’s why we have store meetings every week. We need to start and never stop. Because as soon as you stop and think you know everything, it’s like paddling upstream in a canoe and then you stop paddling. You’re going backwards.

For me, once I understood the mechanics of sales and selling, then I began to research the psychology of sales. That led to understanding better how my people work and what motivates them as individuals. That helped me be a better manager and sales trainer. Now I’m studying quantum physics and how we have the ability to create our world through quantum entanglement or what Einstein called it, “spooky action at a distance.” All because I picked up a Dale Carnegie book back when I was 22.

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So don’t let your growth be just an event that happens at one point in time. Always be growing every day, every week and regularly. You’ll start here, and end up way over there.

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He Doubled His Sales Goals with Wilkerson

John Matthews, owner of John Michael Matthews Fine Jewelry in Vero Beach, Florida, is a planner. As an IJO member jeweler, he knew he needed an exit strategy if he ever wanted to g the kind of retirement he deserved. He asked around and the answers all seemed to point to one solution: Wilkerson. He talked to Rick Hayes, Wilkerson president, and took his time before making a final decision. He’d heard Wilkerson knew their way around a going out of business sale. But, he says, “he didn’t realize how good it was going to be.” Sales goals were “ambitious,” but even Matthews was pleasantly surprised. “It looks like we’re going to double that.”

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