You may have heard this advice.
Comparison is the thief of joy. –Theodore Roosevelt
Some sponsors tell this to their distributors, to keep the newbies from feeling depressed about “not moving fast enough in the business.”
(I have even heard top 10% income earners in several businesses make the same complaint about their personal enrollment and personal customer gathering efforts. It’s a common feeling of frustration.)
So, you may have given this advice to your team… but do you follow it?
Before you answer, there’s an angle you might not have considered…
Let me explain with a story.
It was my first network marketing company. I had to build the confidence and skills from scratch. It took me more than a year to gather my first 20 customers. I asked certainly more than 100 people, including all my relatives who had households of their own or ran a household. (This was a one-per-household type of product.) I persevered through a lot of outright no’s, a large helping of promises-not-fulfilled, and plenty of brush-offs.
I attended the Wednesday evening business presentation and Saturday training every week for the entire time. As I got closer and closer to the magic 20, the company started bringing the newly-accomplished distributors to the front of the presentation room each week, to shower them with praise for completing this milestone during the past seven days.
It gave me the fuel to work even harder to finish.
Then came that awesome day when I did. I jumped around excitedly in our apartment and took special care with how I dressed for that next presentation meeting, prepared to be brought to stage with the other distributors who accomplished the goal during the past 7 days.
With a huge grin on my face, I showed up early and reported to the stage manager with the other smiling faces.
“I gathered my first 20 customers!”
“Great! What’s your name?” he asked, slightly hunched as he wrote the pertinent information on a palm-sized folded paper with his ballpoint pen.
“How long did it take?” as he lifted his head a little, locking eyes with me with a smile and an expectant look on his face.
I told him.
He took the pen away from the paper and stood straight up. His smile of excitement fell off. And what he said took away mine.
In a slightly condescending manner he said in a low voice, “Accomplishing the goal should be reward enough.”
Now I felt confused. “But, you announce the distributors every week, and I accomplished the goal, just like they did (and I thought, ‘just like the other people standing here who are hearing this’).”
He said in a much firmer voice, “Accomplishing the goal should be reward enough.” And then he turned to the next person, effectively dismissing me.
Color me mad.
He was the highest ranked distributor in the room and was in charge of the meeting. There was no one else to appeal to.
When time came to congratulate the newest batch of 20-customer-gatherers, I graciously applauded for them.
But I sat there thinking, the way I was treated was “How NOT to be a leader in network marketing.”… and I promised to remember how I felt, to use this lesson to guide me when I became a leader.
It also made me wonder: What other goals in this company will be highly praised for some but brushed off for others reaching the same milestone?
Let’s talk about how this lesson applies more than 15 years later.
When a new (or seasoned) distributor has not reached a goal, do you directly or indirectly scold them for “moving slowly?”
Do you compare people in a destructive way, saying things like “If you were serious about the business, you would already have accomplished ____________. So-and-So has (no network marketing experience, 9 children, 3 full-time jobs, only 5 minutes a week to work the business, etc.) and THEY already did it!!”
Don’t steal a distributor’s joy of progress.
Much like how we don’t criticize children by harshly comparing the beginning violin student’s squeaky bow work with the smooth mellow tones of the child prodigy. The fact that the personal milestone was reached, the skill was increased and a definite improvement noticed, is reason enough to celebrate. A newbie gathering their first 5 customers IS, I repeat IS, a big deal. Even if it took them 6 months and you did it in 6 hours.
Now let’s talk about the more typical goals of our profession: the customer gathering tally, rank advancement, team volume level.
No matter how long it takes your distributor to accomplish the goal, please celebrate it with as much enthusiasm and pride as you do for the fastest moving distributors on your team: One-to-one and in team meetings. With their permission…on their social media page.
Reaching the destination is what matters. Not the speed, not the flash.
Sure, you might make a bigger splash about the people who reach the goals super-fast. Those might be the people to whom you give a speaking role at the regional meetings and company conventions.
I’m not suggesting you give the equivalent of “participation trophies.” Just don’t make the mistake of making only a private, lukewarm acknowledgement ( or a brush-off) to the ones who move slowly. Such a reaction gives the impression you are dissatisfied with their actions.
The distributor is looking to you, the leader, to demonstrate expected response of leaders in YOUR business. They are asking themselves,
“This is how I feel. Am I being
And Rewarded Appropriately
for accomplishing this goal?”
Such a seemingly dissatisfied reaction from the person they look up to (you!) collides with their newly-won sense of pride. Your comparison, through what you omit, has the strong potential to steal their joy.
Distributors will notice when you seem embarrassed by them … and don’t be surprised if they leave for a team, a leader, a company that celebrates their success.
–LYnn Selwa, “The Rocket Science Coach” ™
P.S. I went on to gather more than 100 personal customers with that company.
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