For years one of the cornerstones of personal growth teaching has been, “What you focus on is what you get.”
Though there is some truth in the statement, I’ve always felt it missed the essential ingredient that gives your focus power — YOU! The real empowering truth is: What you focus on is what you CREATE! Your vision and focus crack open windows of opportunity (WOOs!). But you must then take determined, energized, and enthusiastic ACTION to open those WOOs wide so that you can improve your life and your business. Your vision creates the opportunities but your action creates the results you desire from those opportunities.
As a Network Marketing professional you must see yourself as a true servant leader— the kind of leader who is far more concerned with empowerment than power. You are a coach and teambuilder whose ultimate goal is to bring out the best in everyone you touch. Today we will explore four foundational vision keys at the very heart of servant leadership and coaching. You will see that the vision keys we unveil will extend beyond your business to serve you in every aspect of your life. They will provide the compass to chart your course toward balance, success, peace of mind, and love. Your relationships will deepen in their connection as you amplify the fun, loyalty, and synergy among your friends and teammates. Your business will grow in direct proportion to your growth as a servant leader.
Unstoppable Vision Key #1: Be a WORLD-CLASS Buddy-Thanker!
A great strategy for building an unbeatable team is to become a “world-class buddy thanker.” When you live with an attitude of gratitude, it becomes natural to catch others doing things right. But let me ask you an eye-opening question. Who are the people in our lives we tend to forget to thank the most?
I’ve asked this question in every seminar I’ve ever taught, and have always heard similar responses. The people we most often forget to thank are those to whom we are the closest—our spouse, children, parents, or the people we work beside every day. When triggered by the question we see how easily we can fall into the habit of taking the people we love most for granted. We can rationalize that we don’t need to tell the prized people in our lives to know how we feel about them because they should already know, but the end result of neglect is decay and diminution. The more we fall into the habit of taking others for granted and withholding our appreciation, the more disconnected we become from the countless blessings in our lives.
Have you ever looked up into a brilliant blue sky and spotted a brightly colored hot-air balloon floating in the breeze? Once when I stood enjoying such a scene, the thought struck me that fresh, exciting relationships are like those beautiful balloons. They are light, vibrant, and colorful. Filled with energy, they soar effortlessly. They are lighter than air! That’s just the way we feel when we fall in love, welcome our children into the world, join a new team, or make a new friend. It feels so easy and natural to thank our buddies when we’re in the “glow.”
But what happens when we begin to take them for granted? As I pictured the balloon it occurred to me that the first time we forget to express our thanks, it’s as if we take an acupuncture needle and pierce the balloon. Acupuncture needles are so skinny, the small puncture wouldn’t cause the balloon to explode all at once. Yet the instant the needle pierces the balloon, it starts a slow leak. Each succeeding time you forget to thank your buddy and take him or her more for granted, it’s as if you stick another needle in the balloon, and then another, and another, until eventually enough of the small leaks accumulate, and the balloon begins to fall. As it drops out of the sky, it will look as if the color fades away. With our relationships, it will feel as if the spark has begun to fade. Where there was once spirit, energy, and connection, there will be emptiness and detached coexistence.
How do you reverse this downward cycle and keep your relationships alive and energized? The answer is found in an important concept called the principle of exaggeration. A simple example will make this principle crystal clear.
When I was a swimming coach, a common technique flaw that many of the kids needed to overcome in the freestyle stroke (or crawl) was the habit of not pulling far enough under the center of their body where they had the greatest leverage and power. But if I attempted to correct swimmers who had developed a wide arm pull by saying, “Pull down the centerline of your body,” what do you think they said to me in response?
Looking at me as if I had lost my marbles, they’d reply in exasperation, “I am!” That’s exactly the same response you’ll receive from your downline members when you tell them to increase their call activity or follow-up at a new level. As a coach, it is crucial to remember that what you see may not match what your protégés are feeling. These kids had become comfortable pulling wide under their bodies. The feeling was ingrained as a habit. They already thought they were performing correctly.
That meant it did absolutely no good to tell them how to do it. What did I need to do to help them make the desired change? I had to apply the principle of exaggeration. I instructed them to pull as far across their body underwater as they could so the right hand swept way left under their bodies, and the left hand crossed way over to the right. As soon as they attempted to follow these instructions, guess where they pulled? Zap! Their pull came right down under the centerline of the body!
As they exaggerated in this way, how do you think it felt? At first, it was strange and uncomfortable. But the more they stayed with it, the more natural the motion became. Soon they settled into the new habit.
Taking those we love and appreciate for granted is nothing more than a habit. You can apply the principle of exaggeration to invigorate your relationships by becoming a world-class buddy thanker just as the swimmers applied the principle to improve their strokes. Write personal cards to friends, teammates, clients, and family members expressing your gratitude and admiration even when it’s not their birthday or anniversary. These “happy, heck-of-it” cards will delight the recipients, and they will once again know they are important. E-mail (which stands for ENERGY mail!) and voice mail provide fantastic opportunities to give compliments and to say thanks. Create “moments” for the special people in your life by giving unexpected gifts, arranging surprise events, or simply taking the time to be fully present as you tell them how much you appreciate them.
The example you set as a world-class buddy thanker will stimulate great support within your team. In all the studies undertaken to examine the effects of recognition and acknowledgment, not one has found a business, team, or family that had too much! Make it a regular habit to ask yourself, “What am I truly grateful for right now?” Instantly, you’ll remember an important truth that will both humble and inspire you. As Olympic champion, Wilma Rudolph expressed so perfectly, “No matter what great things you accomplish, somebody always helps you.”
Unstoppable Vision Key #2: Be FULLY PRESENT in every precious moment!
The ultimate secret to balance, connection, and peace of mind is also the most important key to building trust instantly with everyone you touch. This is HUGE in network marketing. The secret centers around a simple, yet immeasurably profound principle called being fully present.
Perhaps the most powerful way to understand this principle of being present is to look clearly at what it is not.
Several years ago when I was the vice-president of a large training company, I became painfully aware of what it means to not be present. At that time we were a family of three with my wife Carole and me, and our oldest daughter, Kelsey who was five years old. Our second child, Jenna had not yet been born. Driven by an unrelenting, nearly suffocating feeling of overwhelm, I had fallen into the habit of reaching the office by 5:00 a.m. and not returning home until well after 6:00 in the evening. Many weekends I was away, teaching seminars around the country. Not once did I see my daughter get ready for kindergarten. Not once did I surprise her by picking her up from school to spend some special, unexpected moments together. I mistakenly convinced myself that I didn’t have time. I had to be at the office first and put more hours in than anyone else. After all, I was driving myself for my family, wasn’t I?
When I trudged wearily through the door at 6:30 or a quarter-to-seven each night, Kelsey ran to me the instant I appeared in the house. She threw her arms around me and told me how much she loved and missed me as she looked into my eyes with pure joy. She then began to tell me all about the wonderful things that happened to her all day—special, magical things that only happen when you are five years old.
And, I missed it. I didn’t hear a word she said. You see, when I walked in that door, my body showed up. But, my mind, my heart, and my spirit were still back at the office. The most important people in my life were right there, at home, waiting for me and I never really saw them or heard them when they most needed me because I was not present.
This went on for months until one morning as I drove into work I suddenly realized what my lack of presence was communicating to my wife and child. In that excruciating moment, it felt as if someone had bashed me full force in the stomach with a sledgehammer. Emerson once said, “What you do screams so loudly I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” Nothing screams so loudly as our presence or lack of presence. Every evening when I marched blankly through my front door, my thoughts still focused on the day’s events or worried about tomorrow’s, I expressed to Carole and Kelsey much more clearly than through words that they were not as important as all those other matters. As I continued to drive that morning, all I could see in my mind was Kelsey’s shining eyes so filled with love. I was overcome with suffocating feelings of remorse and loss. Sobbing uncontrollably I finally recognized how many precious moments of connection I had lost with her and with Carole by not being present. In that instant, I understood for the first time that there was nothing more important to me than becoming a master of being fully present for those I love. It was time to make the choice to come home.
By being present we let others know at a heart level how important they truly are. This is our greatest opportunity as parents, friends, professionals, and caring human beings. When others feel important they begin to live up to their potential. Our presence breathes faith, belief, and positive expectation into their souls. Without this presence, we cannot truly give.
Like becoming a true network marketing professional, being present is not something you can fake. It is not a technique. It is a decision. Do you know whether or not someone is actually fully with you in mind, body, and spirit? When I ask the participants in my seminars this question they reply with an immediate and emphatic “Yes!” Can you even tell over the phone? Once again the answer is clear. We have a definite sense of whether the person on the other end of the line is right there with us, giving full concentration or drifting off and not truly connected. When we make the conscious and consistent decision to be fully present to the very best of our ability, we open ourselves to more joy than we’ve ever imagined and create the possibility to make the difference for which we were put on this earth.
Remember: The past is history
The future is a mystery
The gift is now
That’s why we call it the PRESENT!
Unstoppable Vision Key #3: Become a MASTER ASKER!
Great coaches, teachers, and network marketing leaders are master askers! This may seem to go against the grain of our typical view of leaders as strong-minded dictators with all the answers. But here is a truly liberating truth: The quality of our teams will be determined by the quality of the questions we ask one another. Leaders and coaches who ask more than tell create leaders rather than followers.
When we ask questions, we spark thought and stimulate discovery. We help others think for themselves. Over time, those we coach develop far greater insight and understanding that allows their vision to expand. By asking more than telling, we also breathe faith into others’ hearts, which helps them take responsibility for their decisions and actions.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t times to give answers. It simply means that as a coach you want to help others become self-starters who think for themselves. A simple strategy for getting started on the path toward becoming a master asker is to discipline yourself to respond first with a question when people come to you for advice and answers.
Instead of stepping forward right away to tackle their problems for them, first ask, “What do you think would be the best way to handle this?”
Instantly you’ve let them know you truly value their ideas, and you’ve given them the chance to help themselves. Though initially they may feel somewhat uncomfortable or even disappointed that you didn’t give them an answer, over time, the growing sense of personal responsibility you will foster with this strategy will help them strengthen their spirits, solution orientation, and confidence.
When you ask for a response from someone, it is critical that you really listen. The secret is to listen for their answers, not yours. How many times do we ask questions trying to squeeze out the answer we want? By opening yourself to really listen, you have a much greater chance to learn. When you ask others for their ideas, be eager to hear approaches and viewpoints that had never occurred to you before. And welcome those fresh perspectives with genuine enthusiasm, because they have the greatest potential to create positive change in your life.
I received a real wake-up call about the power of asking more than telling when I took an honest look at my effectiveness as a coach of coaches.
Following my graduation from Stanford University, I had become a United States Swimming coach and built a small novice team into one of the largest privately-owned swimming programs in the United States. Our swimmers had achieved all kinds of outstanding results, finishing in the top three at the Junior Nationals, top ten at the Senior Nationals, with several of our kids qualifying for the Olympic trials. Probably most exciting, over forty of the young people I’d had the honor to coach earned college scholarships.
When I left coaching to pursue my master’s degree, I felt great satisfaction about the accomplishments we had earned during the eight years of my tenure. But then I asked myself a question that really shook me up: If I had been such a good coach, what happened to my assistant coaches when I left? Ouch! Sometimes the truth can leave some major toothmarks on your ego!
You see, more than a year after I left coaching, most of my assistant coaches were floundering. All of them were talented, bright, and caring people. Yet when I had moved on, they’d become stuck. They hadn’t quite known what to do. That is, except for one of my assistants who had continued to grow and improve and was flourishing in his chosen field of education. And, incidentally, when he’d first come to work for me, he’d been the least likely candidate to be a good swimming coach! He’d known virtually nothing about competitive swimming. He had been a baseball player who had never been on a swim team in his life.
Why did this one individual excel while all the others struggled? The more I thought about this question, the clearer the answer became. Jay was the one coach I had asked more than told!
With the other assistants, I had called all the shots. I’d told them exactly what to do and in what order. I’d treated them more like coaching robots than thinking, developing human beings. I hadn’t even allowed them to make mistakes because I’d cover for them. I’d never asked them about strategies or their ideas on how to deal with challenges. As a result, I’d never given them the chance to think creatively or to grow into their potential.
But with Jay, I had been a different kind of coach. Though he’d known little about swimming technique originally, his special gift for making the sport fun for children had been apparent from the beginning. The kids always loved him and couldn’t wait to come to swim practice. This had filled me with great faith in Jay, and I’d found it increasingly natural to ask instead of telling. If he came to me with a question about how to handle a particular situation, I wouldn’t answer. Instead, I’d ask, “What do you think would work best?” I’d held strategy sessions with him where I’d ask for his ideas about how best to develop the team. I’d also asked Jay in more subtle yet equally empowering ways by not showing up at the meets and practices at which he was coaching. By giving him the ball without looking over his shoulder, I’d let him know that my belief in him was strong. When I left, he didn’t miss a beat.
Jay would have been the first to tell you that when he started coaching, he was a Kellogg’s cornflake! But the power of asking more than telling is transformative. Today he is one of the most outstanding professionals in his field. He is a mentor teacher who coaches other teachers in working with disabled children.
What’s more, by asking more than telling, I had gained every bit as much as Jay. I learned ideas, perspectives, and skills from him I use every single day as a father and a speaker that make immeasurable differences for those I love. When you build a network marketing team filled with champions like Jay you will soar to remarkable heights. Asking is a win-win game!
Unstoppable Vision Key #4: Taste Life’s Dessert: Become Alert! (Heaven Can’t-Wait.)
One evening as we dined in a cafe in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, my youngest daughter, Jenna, opened my eyes to a secret of extraordinary coaching and leadership I had nearly forgotten. The cafe was located on the second floor of an old main street building and had huge windows that captured the stunning panorama of the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountain ranges enclosing the valley. Everyone in the cafe was eating or chatting quietly when something caught Jenna’s attention and she walked over to the window. As she stood gazing out at the mountains, suddenly her eyes brightened and a look of pure wonder came over her. Then, with great excitement and considerable volume, she announced for all to hear as she pointed out the window, “Look, Mommy and Daddy. We’re in heaven!”
Everyone in the restaurant lit up at her revelation. The more I thought about it, the more I realized Jenna was right. She had seen and felt the beauty that is always around us, but that most of us pass without the slightest notice. We can miss the “heaven” that is right before our eyes. Yet opportunities abound in our lives when we remember to look for them.
Great leaders and coaches are extraordinarily alert because they recognize that sometimes the smallest insight can make the biggest difference. Each Monday during the last thirty-five years of his remarkable life, Mahatma Gandhi did not speak. He made this choice for religious reasons but found it had an amazing and unexpected effect. These silent Mondays helped Gandhi to heighten his powers of observation, to let go of defensiveness and the need to be right. Most important, never once on these days of silence did he find himself thinking about his response when another was speaking. Instead, he was truly listening. Gandhi’s choice created the opportunity for him to develop keen alertness and sensitivity. You can build this same skill by quietly disciplining yourself to use your own senses to take in information more fully.
In college, I enrolled in a class called “Observation of Children.” It was held once a week at a preschool located on the Stanford University campus. Each of us selected a child to be our subject for the eleven-week quarter. Our task was simple: We were to observe everything we possibly could about our chosen child during our three-hour session each week. At the end of the quarter, we were to write a paper detailing our observations and thoughts from the experience. While observing we were not to speak to our subjects, and we were instructed to remain as inconspicuous as possible. The children were accustomed to having college students milling around, so the challenge of becoming invisible was not as difficult as one would think.
To be honest, I had enrolled in the class only to complete the developmental psychology units I needed for my major. I thought it would be a simple course, a break from the rigorous schedule I was facing that quarter. Little did I know that it would become one of the most stimulating educational experiences of my entire college career, and its impact would last me a lifetime.
Within minutes of observing the girl I had selected, I was completely enthralled. I watched her with total concentration. It soon became obvious to me that I had never really observed another human being with such sustained focus in my entire life. The three hours flew by so quickly they seemed like minutes.
The more I observed, the more I connected with this girl’s spirit. I understood her perhaps as well as anyone I had ever known, though I never uttered a word to her. I watched her grow and develop over those eleven weeks in her language skills, physical dexterity, courage, and interpersonal relationships. It was like watching a flower blossom under time-lapse photography. I realized how quickly most of us make judgments about one another and then hold onto our initial impressions without gaining the greater insight available to us through expanded observation. If her teachers could have stepped into my shoes, they would have discovered so much more about what inspired her, built her confidence, and sparked her curiosity. I became acutely aware of how much I miss in most conversations with others because I am so occupied with my own thoughts about what I will say next.
When we use our senses more acutely and sharpen our alertness, we discover opportunities to affect and inspire others as never before. It is a surefire strategy to become a dedicated lifelong learner—an absolute requirement for excellence.
Today, I carry a beautiful poem in my wallet to remind me of the impact we create when we use our awareness and our senses with our full potential:
The Most Beautiful Flower
The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read
Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree.
Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown,
For the world was intent on dragging me down.
And if that weren’t enough to ruin my day,
A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play.
He stood right before me with his head tilted down
And said with great excitement, “Look what I found!”
In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight,
With its petals all worn—not enough rain, or too little light.
Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play,
I faked a small smile and then shifted away.
But instead of retreating, he sat next to my side
And placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise,
“It sure smells pretty and it’s beautiful, too.
That’s why I picked it; here it’s for you.”
The weed before me was dying or dead.
Not vibrant of colors, orange, yellow, or red.
But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave.
So I reached for the flower, and replied, “Just what I need.”
But instead of him placing the flower in my hand,
He held it mid-air without reason or plan.
It was then that I noticed for the very first time
That weed-toting boy could not see; he was blind.
I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun
As I thanked him for picking the very best one.
“You’re welcome,” he smiled, and then ran off to play,
Unaware of the impact he’d had on my day.
I sat there and wondered how he managed to see
A self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree.
How did he know of my self-indulged plight?
Perhaps from his heart, he’d been blessed with true sight.
Through the eyes of a blind child, at last, I could see
The problem was not with the world; the problem was me.
And for all of those times, I myself had been blind,
I vowed to see the beauty in life and appreciate every second that’s mine.
And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose
And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose
And smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand
About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.