Be the Change You Wish to See in the Channel

It is quite humbling for go-go channel types to realize that the only thing you control is yourself.

September 22, 2017

4 Min Read
Time for Change


Bana Qashu

By Bana Qashu, senior partner manager at Avant Communications

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi

This is one of my favorite quotes. I am constantly reminded to try to be the change — but what does that mean, exactly? How would you apply a concept with such ambiguity in work, the channel and in life? How can you be the change?

It’s such a subjective statement; my view of being or influencing change may be different from yours, even at times in opposition to yours. And that is OK.

Be-the-Change.jpgI once had an executive coach who changed my life in one session with a visual that is etched in my mind 10-plus years later. She drew a stick figure, much like in the image to the right, and placed it in a circle with three concentric circles around it. She then pointed at the stick figure and said, “This is you.” As she continued to speak, she traced the circle around the figure, “This is your circle of control, and that is all you can control.”

At this point, I am wondering why I paid someone to draw four circles and a modern-art rendition of myself. She then drew multiple stick figures in the circle surrounding my circle and said, “This circle that surrounds you and touches your circle is your circle of influence. Your family, significant other and close friends. You may be able to influence them, with very little control, if any, and vice versa.”

As she put her pen down and looked up, I thought, “This is brilliant.” Because the circle that surrounded friends and family was work colleagues, community, volunteer organizations, neighborhood, religious affiliations, acquaintances — people that you can influence but cannot control. The final circle? The rest of the world that we all live in and want to control. However, we lost our control privilege after the first circle.

We live in a world that we influence and touch, but how many of us truly understand that the concept of “control” is nothing but a halo of ego and imaginary power? In fact, the only way we truly have control is when we are directly involved in a situation, and even then, we have to work, volunteer, influence or enhance our skills in persuasion.

Some may think they control others, while others resort to bribery, violence or verbal abuse to control. Fascinating or logical? Who knows, you may even have an opposing opinion, which belongs in comments.

After the hour discussion, the first quote that came to mind is Ghandi’s “… be the change.” It made sense, he intentionally said, YOU be the change, because you are only in control of YOU.

So, how is this applicable in the channel? I’ve written before about mindfulness. Yet we seem to have created an …

… additional circle, encompassing our businesses, where we may imagine that we have control. However, we must realize that we are in that circle with competing factors outside our purview, such as mergers, closures, millennials, telecommuters, constant tech changes, security breaches, war, mother nature … those are all factors that are evolving the channel.

One thing I do know, this is no longer the channel we knew 10 years ago. It is evolving daily, and more and more nontraditional sales partners are joining the evolution. The rate of change is accelerating, and will continue to move faster and faster with different solutions to sell and competitors coming in and leaving. Keeping up with change will be challenging. Knowing who you have in your inner circle is key occurs, because no one person will be able to keep up. So: Be true to yourself. Manage your own self, behavior and work ethic and influence those who are in our inner circle by empowering them to advance their skills and technology knowledge through training and positive messaging. And, you need to be open yourself to being influenced by others and decide who you invite into your inner circle. Influence is bidirectional and your choice. I can not control my sales partners or my supplier vendors any more than I can control the weather. We must shift our focus as an industry from competing with ourselves to competing with external factors that are influencing our selling partners’ wins and losses. We are not the only one targeting customers with IT solutions and cloud services. How will you be the change?

Please join me for yoga on Tuesday, Sept. 26,  at Channel Partners Evolution in Austin, Texas, followed by a mindful leadership-in-the-channel discussion over tea or coffee. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. For questions, comments or feedback, contact me today at [email protected].

Bana Qashu is senior partner manager at Avant Communications.

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