After the holidays, I was chatting with a girlfriend about the gifts our husbands had bought us. I was quite impressed with the amount of care my husband put into my gifts; but I must admit, one of my girlfriend’s gifts gave me more thought.

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Proceed with Caution!

She received a mirror that acts like a microscope highlighting all the facial flaws. I too have this mirror. I have found that, when I take a peek, I ask myself: “Where are the years going?” “Where did that line come from?” “When did I get that age spot?” Looking into the mirror is almost like an addiction: I am not perfect! OH I KNOW… but who else will find out?

Then I realized no one looks at me that closely, except myself. I realized that flaws are there because of the years of living and without all these experiences, I would not be the person I am today.

My girlfriend decided never to look in the mirror. She told her husband to return it. Perhaps a wise decision.

As we look at our goals for 2010, we cannot help but reflect, with some satisfaction, on the past year and what we have achieved; then we look, perhaps with some regret, at what we were going to achieve and never did. This is the process I went through personally and professionally.

I always challenge myself to do better. Last year, I puzzled over how much time I should be spending on social media. As a speaker, trainer and coach, other speakers questioned me not once, not twice, but a hundred times: “Aren’t you on Facebook yet? Do you have a blog? How often do you tweet?” Between the social media inundation and the learning curve of Search Engine Optimization, I was a sales person gone mad.

I listened to their advice and considered every possible way to improve the marketing of Ignite Excellence to our potential clients. I can see now that I was looking too closely in the mirror at our social media presence. I was trying to hide every age spot, hydrate every line, and pop every pimple.

Then I took a holiday. I turned off my computer and cell phone. The world was going to wait while I took a well-deserved break.

I returned to work on January 11th, looked at all my marketing initiatives and discovered that nowhere do we say that Ignite Excellence is a sales development company! How could I have missed that? All our marketing initiatives promoted how Ignite Excellence works with people to influence, differentiate, and engage more people and more business. But nowhere was it clear that we are a sales development company.

For the first time I saw the problem clearly. There were no lines, (ok, a 40-something woman can hope), my skin was clear and I felt great.

This epiphany opened other channels of discovery. For months I was challenged with coming up with a way to position Suzanne F. Stevens as a keynote speaker. I looked at our client list. All our clients are highly educated, smart people. I was challenged at positioning how our sales training takes us beyond the process and to understanding the real emotions, culture and politics of individuals and an organization. Even the highest producers in organizations would say “Ignite Excellence Programs are different” but I couldn’t come up with one title to bring it together. Finally, it came to me…Suzanne F. Stevens – Maven Sales Mobilizer!

So bring on 2010! Go ahead… set your goals and make your plans on how you will achieve them. But I caution you: don’t be so focused on your goals that you stop seeing what is right in front of you. Back off once and a while. Turn off the phone, and clear your head.

And please, put that that nasty mirror away, at least temporarily. Often, what you need to improve the most is so obvious that seeing all those imperfections may only distract you from an inspiration waiting to be discovered.

Today I launch my blog. It may not be perfect, but, for now, I am stepping back from the mirror.

Next Steps: Be cautious about over-analyzing your faults. Take a break, refresh, and come back to the problem with fresh eyes. Then, insights that were masked by day to day flaws will appear obvious.