Retailers: Meditation Provides You A Key To More Sales
By Bob Phibbs
I used to pride myself on how busy I was when I worked retail. Four Cokes, a couple of iced teas, and a couple of sugary snacks kept me pumping sales. I was the bomb.
I kept this up for most of my professional life, whether I was speaking in front of thousands of retailers, counseling a franchisee, or doing a business makeover – activity meant productivity.
And then one day…
I was driving home. There was a large SUV in front of me stopped for no apparent reason. I waited. It seemed as if the driver was talking to someone on the curb. In a hurry to get home, I was about to angrily floor it and go around when...
I noticed her…
A young woman in the crosswalk, a crosswalk I hadn’t even seen. And the person the driver was talking to was the crossing guard who had stopped him. I stopped my foot just in time; flooring it might have ended in disaster.
Right then I decided I needed to do something. Something about my impatience. Something to stop my impulsiveness. Something to curb my easy anger.
Could that be you?
I took care of a lot of retail clients, but when was I going to start taking care of myself?
At this point, I realized my body needed something and I was fortunate to discover what it needed.
I started meditating.
Trust me, I felt like a fool at first. What was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to feel? How would I know if it was working?
What I discovered was I just had to be open to it.
First I had to set myself a time. I decided I could do it each day after I’d fed and walked the hound.
I used my office where I could totally be inwardly focused.
I sat down on the floor, crossed my legs, and put on Honoring by Peter Kater. I set my iPhone for 10 minutes, closed my eyes, and tried to turn off the chatter in my mind.
And then it started – the to-do lists, the blogs to write, the client challenges – all of it with no stopping.
I realized it is the mind’s business to chatter to itself. I had to embrace that to gain control. Not only did I have to gain control of automatic business chatter, but I had to acknowledge that negative messages about me were also cropping up in the silence.
I had to learn that I couldn’t block them but instead I had to thank them for showing up and then intentionally choose what I wanted to think about instead - even if that was nothing at all. That took awhile to master.
Eventually with daily practice, I developed the space to notice instead of react. And this brought me calm, even in intense situations.
In this day and age – where we are encouraged to essentially act, then think – where a phone chirps and we MUST respond, meditation can give you the space to choose how to act.
Ten minutes seemed long at first, but eventually I found I could go longer and longer. What I've come to understand over the past several years is that by meditating, I developed a space between stimulus and my reaction to it.
If you’re reading this far, my guess is you would like some tips.
Tips For Busy Retailers Who Want To Practice Meditation
Decide on a time you can commit to each day.
Decide where you will meditate and be consistent – where doesn’t matter, but you don’t want to be interrupted by pets, kids or other distractions.
Start with just ten minutes.
Do this in a silent room or add some mood music if you like, but don’t use anything that will draw your attention away from your practice. Use headphones if necessary to block out noises.
Sit on the floor or you can lie on your back - be comfortable.
Hold your hands in your lap.
Take some slow deep breaths.
Close your eyes and just notice.
To focus your attention, breathe in on a count of 5 and breathe out on a count of 5. If you get distracted or find yourself thinking about business, for example, just notice – that’s the practice of meditation – noticing and returning to your concentration. That is the skill you are developing, the space to intentionally choose where you will direct your thoughts.
When your timer goes off, slowly open your eyes and notice how you feel.
Don’t berate yourself if you feel challenged by this at first. It’s perfectly normal. You’re not weak or stupid or anything else. Just return to concentrating on your breathing. That's why it is called practice.
You can find lots of resources online on how to meditate, but it’s not difficult. A good start is the Chopra Institute’s 21-Day Challenges. It takes 21 days to develop a new habit and these guided meditations can be an excellent start. (This is not an affiliate promotion.)
Is mediation just another word for prayer? For some, it might be.
For me it is different because meditation is listening inwardly where prayer is communicating outwardly. For me, it is the stillness that I seek.
All that said, I still drink too much iced tea. I’m still driven to succeed, and I still lack patience when confronted with indifference and inaction by people. But now I have space to look at my actions and reactions to those stimuli differently. I am not dragged hither and yon by distracting urges.
If you work in retail, it is by nature stressful. If you want to manage your employees better, have more energy and be able to make more sales, you have to gain control over your own chatter and stimulus responses.
If you find yourself worried, harried, feeling out-of-control, worn out or just curious about the benefits of choosing where you want to place your intentions, I encourage you to start meditating today. And please don’t “try to” do it, just commit – you deserve that much.
And just in case you think this is too out there, many MBA programs now include meditation as part of their daily curriculum and so do several larger companies.
If ever there were a time for the practice of meditation by retailers and anyone in business, 2013 is the time...
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