The Trough of Sorrow (and 5 steps to reverse the pity party of one)

I had dinner tonight with this really great lady named, Katina. Oh, there were two other guys there at the meeting, Rob and Murray, but she was the coolest and smartest person at the table. She’s in my same profession (Katina coaches high-performing CEOs).  I had spoken to her on the phone once before, a few weeks back, but it was great to meet her face to face.

It was between the crispy honey shrimp and the weird ice cream/banana desert that Rob ordered that Katina casually mentioned her recent, “Trough of sorrow”.

Katina described feeling isolated at times, and then feeling down in the dumps because things weren’t going her way. She mentioned feeling, “sorry for herself”.

Can you relate?

By the way…I LOVE this “trough of sorrow” thing.

In my mind’s eye I picture this old, sad wooden animal trough filled up with (not good tasting) food for some random livestock. (I was born and raised in L.A., so please understand that I don’t have the foggiest what type of farm animal would feed at such a place.) However, what a great way to describe how we often allow ourselves to wallow in the emotional cesspools we dream up, and then we feed off of those negative thoughts and feelings that multiply.

Then Katina nonchalantly threw out a comment that lead me to believe that she figured out how to coach herself out of this trough of sorrow thing.

And then I became real interested.

When there was a break in the banter, I asked her, “Can you tell me how you lifted yourself out of this, “trough of sorrow” thing you mentioned?

Katina is such a nice person and she loves helping other people and sharing best practices. That’s why she’s such a great executive coach. So she launched on the very specific things she did intentionally to pick herself up.

By the way, you may be wondering why such a high-level person would suffer a slump or feel sorry for themselves. Here’s the dirty little secret, if you’re a successful salesperson, an entrepreneur, or even a leader, there will come a time (or two) each year (or quarter) where your thoughts and feelings turn negative as numbers or metrics turn ugly. The best of the best suffer emotional slumps. It happens to all of us.

Okay, so back to Katina’s 5 action steps. I will paraphrase what she told us. (I’ll also place them in bullet-point fashion to make it easy to follow)

  1. Total Acceptance

Katina told us that she works hard mentally to acknowledge that there are times in your evolution of being an entrepreneur, or solopreneur, that you will need to accept whatever “heavy lifting” sits in front of you. It can be that you’re new in your position or industry and the work to establish yourself is mostly front-loaded. It might be that you are a veteran and you are trying to establish a new behavior, execute a new strategy or penetrate a new market. Regardless, there’s a level of acceptance of the work and the price that you have to arrive at.

  1. Nothing’s PERSONAL

The second thing Katina does is remove emotion from the equation. When you are in a slump or trying to develop momentum, it’s easy to start categorizing certain results or responses as, “rejection”.  Katina doesn’t go down this road and I don’t know of a real pro that does. In fact, it is illogical to label anything in the sales process as, “rejection” or take things personally.

Here’s why:

In most cases they don’t know you, or at least don’t know you personally. In addition, if you did an adequate job leading them through the sales process, but it stalls, they didn’t reject your program. They’d have to completely understand every facet of your product to logically reject it. And, I’m sure you would agree, if a prospect really took the time to completely understand every aspect of your program, they’d jump in. So you can’t reject what you don’t even take the time to completely understand, hence feeling personally rejected isn’t even logical.

  1. Stay Neutral + Curious

Often times we push too hard when we’re emotionally slumping. We are so passionate about getting to the next small victory that our demeanor and voice changes and we lose our impartiality. Katina mentioned that she likes to, “Stay neutral and curious”.  By this I believe she means that she remembers that she’s there to qualify the suitability of her prospect as much as they are there to judge the appropriateness of her program. She said that she likes to get into a “Curious mindset,” because, “Everyone has a story”.

Wow…if the next time you call a prospect you simply remember to be neutral and curious, I bet you’ll be more relaxed, you will ask more questions, and the call will go much smoother.

  1. You Better Work, B**CH!

Katina stated that she went to a Britney Spears concert a few weeks ago. (I missed that show…I was at the Metallica concert with my daughter.) Britney apparently does a song called, “Work B**CH.” I Googled the lyrics from this gem…

“You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? 
You want a Maserati? You better work bitch 
You want a Lamborghini? Sippin’ martinis? 
Look hot in a bikini? You better work bitch…”

Katina seems to like this song, so she bought a hat at the ‘merch’ stand that has the song title on it. Apparently she parks this hat on her desk as a reminder. She knows that visual icons can be powerful. She also knows that you have to DO THE WORK!

You see, you can be highly competent. You can develop a good and positive attitude, you can be organized and all that jazz, but if you don’t do the WORK B**CH, you are still going to crash and burn.

  1. Gratitude

The last thing Katina told us is that she likes to write down what she is grateful for. She took out a small leather bound notebook and read an entry from it.

Wow! Taking the time to do that…so important.

God and the Universe want to help you, but you have to get on the right frequency. Simply noting what you are grateful for in your life each day helps you dial into that right frequency.

When things aren’t happening, it’s easy to begin focusing on what you DON’T have—what others are doing or getting that you AREN’T getting! Instead of doing that, simply focus on the little things in your life that are gifts. You could begin by saying to yourself, “God has given me another day in my life.” You can continue on with a list of things, such as loved ones or friends that have been a positive influence in your life. You can be grateful for the roof over your head  (some people are homeless).  You can be thankful for the car you own (some people can’t afford a car).

You get it.

There are so many things to be thankful and grateful for. If you think of those things each morning—or better yet, write them down—you will be sending a signal to God and the Universe to send you more of the same.

I was making notes like crazy after Katina mentioned her trough of sorrow and her methods to extract her head from it.

She feeds on the good stuff. Like I do. Like you should.

We are all going to have a natural tendency to lapse into a pity party at some point. That’s okay. Allow yourself a few minutes in the trough and then use Katina’s 5 steps to pull your head out of it.

Katina coaches high level business owners, Presidents, CEOs and key executives in Tucson, Arizona. She can be reached at:

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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on the roles of direct selling, entrepreneurialism and leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, and The CAP Equation©.


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