Every voice-mail message I leave ends with this simple statement. Nearly every day someone responds to these four words with sincere thanks because they awaken feelings of love, joy, and gratitude, shattering the numbness and “taking-for-granted” attitude that sometimes seep into our souls.
After over thirty years working with Network Marketers, it has become crystal clear to me that when you LIVE these same four words, you uncover the ultimate secret to shine in network marketing, build an incredible team, and ignite others to do the same.
The decision to embrace every moment as a precious gift is ultimately a choice of love over fear. The impact of that choice can be so profound, so transformational, that it changes your perspective, your presence, and your peace of mind forever. It will definitely change your business because you will see beauty, hope, and opportunity that you would have completely missed before making this pivotal choice. You will find yourself connecting with people you might have avoided before, even the people you’re pretty certain were put on the planet to “test” you. You will recognize that material possessions do not make the biggest difference; the spirit and heart you bring to each day ultimately determine the quality of your life and the lasting effect you have on others. This powerful choice will skyrocket your network marketing career and bring you to a whole new level of building people, teams, and relationships.
I share my story with you today so that you can learn from my fear and blindness a truth that will change your life and your business: That the love we fail to share is the only pain we live with. When you apply this lesson each day, you will generate incredible breakthroughs professionally and personally.
When the phone rang that autumn morning, it startled me from my immersion in my world of kickboards, chlorine, workouts, and weight training. I had become so caught up in my role as head coach of one of the country’s largest swimming teams that there was practically no room for anything else. I wondered who would be calling me at this time of the morning. Perhaps it was one of my assistant coaches seeking some advice or a parent with a question about our upcoming fund-raising project. I rarely heard from anyone outside my swimming circle. But when I picked up the phone, the voice on the line was warm yet unfamiliar.
“Is this Brian Biro?”
When I answered yes, she continued on purposefully. “I’m calling you this morning because an old friend of yours asked me to. Diana Smith wanted me to invite you to Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday at three o’clock in the afternoon.”
The words cut into me like a knife. Hardly breathing as shock, disbelief, and pain converged to level my heart and soul, I fought to control my rising anguish as the voice continued gently. “She battled her cancer for many months before it finally took her. Diana wanted you to be with her children at her funeral. In her last days, she planned the entire service. Her wish was that it become a celebration of her life rather than a mourning of her death. I feel as though we’ve already met because Diana told me so much about you. She said you had filled her with hope when she felt she was wasting her life. She wanted you to know how deeply your faith in her had affected her spirit. Will you come?”
With my mind racing and my stomach tied in knots, I managed to stammer in a near whisper, “Yes, I’ll be there.”
Weak, I thanked her and hung up the phone. I sat stunned as if someone had knocked the wind out of me. How could this have happened? How could I have let seven years go by without speaking to Diana, without checking in on this extraordinary friend who had given so much to me? Why had she wanted me to be present at her funeral when I had been absent from her life for so long?
I had met Diana when I was eighteen years old. In the summer before my sophomore year at Stanford, I’d worked as a swimming instructor in the San Fernando Valley. I still remember her gentle smile the first morning she brought her youngest son, David, to the pool for private swimming lessons with me. She was so proud of David and the progress he had made that summer advancing from fear to freestyle. He’d emerged more than water-safe; by the end of the summer, he was a strong little swimmer.
In the spring of my junior year, I made the decision to return to the San Fernando Valley for the summer to operate my own swim lesson business in backyard pools. I wrote to Diana and asked if she had an interest in David continuing his lessons. In less than a week, she sent me back a wonderful letter offering the use of her pool. Not only did she want me to continue with David, but she was excited to have her two older children work with me to learn all of their competitive strokes because they wanted to try out for the summer swim team. She didn’t stop there. She had already lined up about eight private lessons with other families in her neighborhood and felt sure she could find more. Suddenly, thanks to Diana, my new business was off to a flying start!
My days that summer were packed with coaching in the early morning, followed by a full slate of lessons from nine to five-thirty, and, finally, three more hours of coaching. It was an intense schedule but incredibly fulfilling to watch the children grow so much in confidence and skill—not to mention the financial bonanza it produced for me. I needed every penny I could save for my Stanford tuition. In the midst of these fifteen-hour days, I really looked forward to my lessons at Diana’s house. I loved working with her three children, fine-tuning their stroke techniques for the team. They were wonderful kids—bright, friendly, and eager to learn.
Every so often a cancellation would occur, leaving a twenty-minute opening in my schedule. In these brief interludes, Diana and I would talk about all kinds of subjects. She was truly interested in me and my education and took great delight as I described my friends and my life at Stanford. When she found out I was financing my own education through working and student loans, she stunned me by asking if she could send me some extra money to help with my school expenses. She was quite wealthy through family inheritance and told me she couldn’t think of a better way to use some of her money. At first, I told her I couldn’t accept such a gift, but she was so reassuring and insistent that eventually, I gave in. Over the next few years, she sent me several thousand dollars I desperately needed. She was like my guardian angel. Gradually I began to know this remarkable woman, discovering that although she was perhaps the most giving person I had ever met, she was also one of the loneliest and least fulfilled. She had almost given up hope of ever doing so much she wanted to do in her life.
She loved them completely. What’s more, she truly admired them and reveled in their different personalities and ways of interacting with others. Erika, the oldest, was the intellectual. She was a grown-up at twelve—brilliant, logical, and so mature and serious Diana worried that Erika would miss the fun of learning to let go and play.
Craig, the middle child, was the lover. Gentle, empathetic, and deeply compassionate, he lived to make others happy. He was so like his mother that their expressions often looked like mirror images of one another. Every day, Diana focused on ways to help Craig build faith and confidence in himself. She adored him and his giving spirit but was determined that he learn to receive, too, and to develop strength to balance his gentleness. She knew his happiness would ultimately depend upon his learning to love himself as well as others.
The youngest, David, was the character. With an imagination and impish wit that knew no bounds, he was creative and clever. Diana recognized immense talent in David but also saw a lack of discipline and determination to apply himself fully. She knew he hid behind his happy-go-lucky exterior. Her greatest wish for David was for him to know that no matter the outcome of his efforts, the joy and fulfillment from giving one’s best is the real treasure.
The more we talked about the children, the more I began to see that Diana was in a very real sense raising them alone. Her relationship with her husband had gradually deteriorated into emptiness. He was an attorney who was rarely around. When he did come home, he’d settle into “a few tall ones” and television. He had little to do with the children or Diana. Having drifted apart long ago, they coexisted out of convenience.
One morning I arrived as usual at Diana’s only to find that four of the children I taught were sick and had to cancel for the day. Since I had the rare gift of an hour and a half of free time, Diana invited me to join her for lunch out by the pool. As we sat down together, I began to ask about her for a change. We so often talked about the children and me; I was curious to learn more about this friend who had taken me under her gentle wings.
Diana must have sensed that I was fully present with her and keenly interested in what she had to say because she spilled her heart out to me. She knew her marriage was beyond repair; she had long since lost all feelings for her husband. She could no longer even be angry. All that remained was indifference. They lived completely separate, disconnected lives. She thought about leaving with the children but feared that it would hurt them. She knew Erika would be fine but worried that David was too young and Craig too sensitive to handle a broken home, so she stayed, devoting herself to her children and giving up all her other dreams.
And what dreams they were! She wanted to go back to school to earn her master’s degree in psychology and perhaps a Ph.D. She loved to learn. She envisioned combining her passion for art and music with her study of behavioral psychology to help children with learning and emotional challenges.
As she spoke, I saw radiance in Diana I had never sensed before. She had always seemed so calm, but a tinge of sadness and resignation had always been present in her eyes. Now she bubbled with a passion for life that, for just a moment, rekindled hope within her.
I told her how amazing she was. “Why don’t you go and live your dreams? You’re an incredible mother and your children would love to see you find the same kind of happiness you want for them.” I told her how much she deserved joy and that there was nothing she couldn’t create in her life. I was twenty years old and filled with idealism and freedom. “The greatest gift you can ever give your children is to be an example of happiness.”
A week or two later I returned to Stanford for my senior year. Diana continued to send me money with her wonderful letters. When she wrote, the same radiance I had seen that morning when she opened her life up to me jumped off the pages. I was delighted with her letters.
What was I going to do with my life? As much as I had enjoyed my education at Stanford, I realized that nothing brought me more joy than the coaching I did each summer. The inner satisfaction of helping children learn to truly believe in themselves was the greatest feeling I had ever experienced. Finally, it became crystal clear to me that I would return to San Fernando Valley when I finished school to coach full-time. I graduated a quarter early and made the move to my new adventure.
During my first week back, I went to visit Diana. When she met me at the door, her eyes welled up with tears. She hugged me tightly and I could feel her love. I had come to thank her for all she had given me, but her outpouring of emotion scared me. I didn’t know how to handle being loved so intensely. I began to question whether she had given me so much because she wanted much more than my friendship in return. Suddenly I was terrified that she might have fallen in love with me.
And so, I ran. As quickly as I could find an excuse to leave, I rushed out the door. When I reached my car, I looked back for just a moment at Diana still standing at the door. In my last glimpse of her, I saw enormous sadness. Somehow, she knew I was running away.
It took me years to see the truth—that her love was the most unconditional I had ever known. Her emotions that night had been pure gratitude and joy for her friend who had ignited a fresh possibility that she could create her life rather than merely endure it. It was only my insecurity that had stirred my rising panic. I simply had not accepted myself enough to be so completely accepted by another.
These indelible memories swept through my soul as I drove to Mount St. Mary’s seven years later on that Saturday afternoon. When I had run away from Diana, I’d kept right on running. I’d buried myself in my coaching, completely detaching myself from friends, family, and every part of myself except the role I played as a coach. I’d seen Diana at the pool a few times but barely spoke to her, conveniently finding refuge in my rule about not conversing with anyone but the swimmers during practice. Never again did I stop by to visit and connect with my special friend. I thought about it many times but always found myself “too busy” to take the time.
As I walked into the chapel at Mount St. Mary’s, I was met by three beautiful young adults—David, Craig, and Erika. They lit up when I arrived, running to me and throwing their arms around me. I hadn’t seen them in many years, yet they made me feel like the most important person in the world. They escorted me to a seat in the very front of the chapel and then stunned me by sitting down beside me. We talked quietly as we waited for the service to begin and they told me what had happened to Diana.
She had died one of the happiest people on earth. All the dreams she had shared with me seven years before had come true—she had made them come true. She had taken a life of emptiness and resignation and transformed it into a masterpiece. After divorcing her husband, she and the kids began a new life together. She’d enrolled at UCLA and earned her Ph.D. in psychology. She had a tremendous passion for her work with learning-impaired children and had rapidly become a rising star in her field.
As I listened to her children, I saw that Diana’s vision and hopes for them had also become shining realities. Erika’s brilliance and maturity were still immediately apparent, but she had become so light! Now a sophomore at Smith College, she had discovered how to let go and find joy even in the midst of difficult times. Craig’s kindness and compassion were as unmistakable as ever, but I could sense an inner peace in him now. He was a young man who knew and liked who he was. And David, too, had found himself. He had become a fine student and athlete. He carried himself with strength and confidence. No longer the clown, he had become a person of substance and character. All three were intensely proud of their mother. She had always been their best friend, but as they had grown together, she had also become their hero.
When the cancer was discovered, all of them had been devastated and terrified, but Diana had remained positive and joyful to the last. She’d talked for hours with each of the children and told them these last years had been so rich and full that all she could feel was gratitude and joy. She’d let them know with every ounce of her enormous heart and spirit how deeply she loved and respected each of them. The experience of those years helped Diana find a new spirituality and faith. She’d believed without question that she would always be with her children.
They had planned this day together. Each had chosen his or her part. During the service, Craig and David shared wonderful stories about Diana—how much fun they’d had together and how unconditionally she had trusted and believed in them—even when they’d stretched that faith to the limit. When they spoke, tears welled up, but they seemed much more tears of joy and triumph than tears of sadness and despair. Their mother had loved and been loved completely. There had been nothing more she’d wanted. She’d been truly happy.
At the end of the service, we were invited outside to a small courtyard in the center of Mount St. Mary’s. It opened up to a brilliant blue sky that day. Each of us was handed a huge bouquet of brightly colored balloons as we stepped together into the courtyard.
Erika stood on a small bench and began to speak. “Mom wanted each of you to know how much you meant to her. She cherished your love and friendship. She envisioned you here today and wanted you to know that she is with us now. The balloons you hold represent the lightness, color, and energy you bring to her life. She asked that you remember the special moments you shared together as you looked up at the balloons and then let them go. As they fly away, let go of any sadness or remorse and let all pain disappear just as the balloons fade from view. Know that when Diana left you, she was happier than she had ever been.”
We watched together in silence as the balloons rose into that vivid blue sky, becoming tinier and tinier until all that was left was a memory. Yet we knew they were still out there floating on the wind. Finally, Erika closed the ceremony when she said,
That night I sat in the solitude of my apartment and began to write in my journal. As the thoughts swept from my mind and onto the pages, it was as if Diana was there with me, gently healing my tortured spirit. Slowly, I began to understand what she was trying to tell me by inviting me to be a part of this day. Seven years before I had run away from her, afraid she had fallen in love with me. Today, I had seen the truth—she loved me, my spirit, my hopefulness, and my belief in her possibilities. I had helped her choose to live rather than merely exist. She wanted me to know the impact that belief had created in her life and to feel her undying gratitude.
As I wrote that night, Diana reached into my soul and awakened my understanding that the ultimate choice we have been given is that between love and fear. I had helped her find the faith to choose love, and now she was helping me see that the lesson I had taught was the very one I most needed to learn. Only by choosing love can we discover abundance. Only by choosing love can we create joy. Only by choosing love can we be loved.
Finding happiness is a matter of choice, not chance. As she chose love for herself, she became a shining example of energy and vitality for everyone she touched. She created a livelihood centered upon purpose and personal responsibility. Because of her new energy and purpose, every team of which she was a part, from her family to her clients to her professional colleagues, became enriched and more deeply connected. She threw open the window of opportunity—one we all have—to make her life a masterpiece and, as a result, made a magnificent difference for all of us lucky enough to have known her.
Diana made choices that transformed her vision and dreams into reality. So can you! She learned that there are only two true emotions…
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