Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Brain Cell Here, A Brain Cell There

I think I would be on safe ground to say that salespeople are more vulnerable to substance abuse than the general population. I would extend this observation to include gambling, sexual addictions, and prescription drug abuse. Before you get upset, consider:

1. Sales people are commonly called on to entertain clients or to be part of outings that include drinking, gambling, and even drugs or sex. The availability of these activities provides lures into which those with predilections for abuse can be snared.

2. Sales is often very high stress. Abuse of alcohol, drugs, or sex often starts with moderate use to numb the senses when things are not going according to plan.

3. Road trips provide a huge temptation to experiment with behaviors without anyone being the wiser. Las Vegas even advertises this idea "Whatever Happens in Las Vegas Stays in Las Vegas."

4. Sales types are often people pleasers. They want to be liked and to be doing what the in crowd is doing. This reduces the resistance that we might normally put up to overdoing things.

5. The average sales person can easily afford to indulge in these behaviors. To make things even easier, much is offered for free or can be put on an expense account. I have personally seen a salesman put sexual expenses on the company credit card. He was terminated.

Hopefully it goes without saying that overuse of any of these can result in a substantial drop in your effectiveness. How do you protect yourself against a potentially career destroying decision to indulge beyond your limits?

A. Know yourself. Nobody knows they are susceptible to addiction in some area until its too late. However, check the warning signs. Are you likely to indulge because you are hurting and need to cover the pain? Are you inclined to do things because everyone else is? Are you finding it hard to stop a certain behavior when everything in your soul is telling you it time to stop? Are you spending money you don't have on the activity? Are you lying to your wife, boss, or other significant other in your life about what you are doing? Are you hiding your use from others? Are you embarrassed or ashamed? Have you done stupid things as a result of the habit that brought about problems later? Has your job been effected? Have you answered the above questions honestly?

B. Set boundaries. Before you head for the party, decide in advance how many drinks you will have. If you don't hold to that limit, see number A above. If you consistently don't hold to limits you set, stop doing the behavior entirely.

C. Establish accountability with someone. If you are concerned about one of these areas, ask someone to hold you to your plan. In order for this to work, the person who takes on the task must be someone who you respect enough to have an impact.

D. If you have been hiding the evidence from your spouse, avoid the kinds of opportunities that were giving you a hiding place. If you are doing porn, for instance, don't be home by yourself for long periods of time. Tell the hotel desk you want the adult channels deactivated. Or, better yet, admit the behavior to your spouse and ask for help in ending the problem.

E. Take a look at the big picture. What is more important? Your income, your spouse, your kids, your reputation, your health, OR drugs, sex, and rock'n roll? I'm not trying to be a poop, here. But I have enough stories to write an entire book about folks I know who had massive potential that are badly messed up now, or who are still recovering.

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