It was an autumn weeknight several years ago. I don’t remember the exact time, but it must have been around 10:30 or so because the evening was just getting started. I remember the restaurant. I remember the table. I remember a lot of other details too. I should–something happened that night that dramatically affected my network marketing business. And I mean in a profoundly positive way. Larry and I had had similar meetings before. He was one of my mentors when I was with my first MLM company. Larry was a leader in my up-line. He had a growing group, some fruit on the tree, and he saw some potential in yours truly. Larry was immersed in an aggressive personal development program and it showed. Naturally, when he called and invited me for the proverbial cup of coffee, I jumped at the offer. We talked about my fledgling business, my level of activity, and other factors germane to our unique business model. After a while, he asked if there was anything specific that he could he help me with. The following dialogue picks up with my response :
R: Yes, there is something I’d like your advice on.
L: What’s that?
R: Well, it seems to me that I’m doing all the right things. I’m prospecting constantly, I’m setting appointments, I’m sharing the opportunity with the right kind of people, and I’m following up, but no one is coming on-board.
L: So what’s your question?
R: I need to know what to do. I suspect it’s something that I’m doing wrong, but I don’t know what.
L: Do I have permission to be frank?
R: Absolutely. My feelings are not on the line. I know you’re a straight shooter and I trust you. Just tell me what it is.
L: Ok, here it is: you need to “chill out”.
R: I don’t understand.
L: Russ, you have a High-D/Red personality. High-D’s are focused, driven, determined, and in your case, way too intense. When a prospect sits across the table from you, they see “black” in your eyes. They have no doubt about whether you’re going to build the business. The challenge is that they can’t imagine them self having the same level of intensity. Therefore, they assume that they can’t be successful doing what you’re doing. You need to be more like a duck.
R: A duck?! Come on Larry. I could understand if you said a tiger or lion or rhino, but a duck? You’ve got to be kidding.
L: You asked for my advice. Do you want to understand what I’m telling you?
L: Then close your eyes.
R: [I really wanted to grasp the lesson at hand, so I close my eyes.]
L: Paint a picture, in your mind, of a pond in the middle of a quiet meadow.
L: Now, put a duck on the pond. Make it mama duck with a few baby ducks.
L: Now, while you’re watching the duck, it starts to swim across the pond.
L: What are the baby ducks doing?
R: Swimming along behind the mama duck.
L: Good. Now you notice that the duck must be in a hurry, because it’s moving along pretty quickly. Do you have a mental picture of that?
R: Yes, I’m with you.
L: Good. Now tell me, is any part of the duck moving?
R: It’s feet.
L: What are the feet doing?
R: Kicking, I guess.
L: Fast or slow?
R: You said the duck was moving quickly, so they must be kicking fast.
L: Are you sure? Can you see them?
L: Why not?
R: Because they’re under the water.
L: Open your eyes.
R: [I do.]
L: That’s what I mean when I say that you need be more like a duck. See Russ, your intensity is one of your strengths. It’ll help you move toward your goals, but you have to learn to hide it. Keep it below the surface where the prospect can’t see it–just like the duck’s feet. Internally, you’re running 1,000 miles per hour but externally, the prospect sees you as calm, cool, and collected. Lighten up and let the prospect know you’re having fun. That way they’ll will be attracted to what you’re offering, not threatened by it. Does that make sense?
R: [I pause, thinking.] It makes a lot of sense. Looking back, I can see that has to be what was happening. Now, I have another question.
L: What’s that?
R: Well, I see how the analogy is a perfect picture of the lesson, but what’s the deal with the baby ducks? How do they fit in?
L: Oh, that’s easy. When you master the lesson of the duck, the prospects will follow you wherever you lead them.
Wow! That conversation was a turning point in my network marketing business. Traveling my journey, I’ve discovered plenty of areas I need to improve in, but this one was enormous. Big ships turn slow so the change didn’t happen overnight. Eventually though, I learned to be a rhino on the inside and a duck on the outside.
The illustration highlights an important truth: if a person’s primary strength is not kept under control, it can become their primary weakness. In my case, the intensity was unchecked and consequently I was alienating prospects. Perhaps you should take inventory of your own strengths and examine them with a new pair of eyes?the prospect’s.
Are you analytical, cautious, and/or skeptical? If you are, you’re probably also very detailed-oriented. Being detail-oriented is a true strength. Details help keep order in the world. However, not everyone cares about the details. My first MLM sponsor nearly lost me in the first presentation merely because he covered me in details. I operate at the 30,000-foot level. I couldn’t care less about the details. I want the bottom line. If the prospect asks detailed questions, give them detailed answers. Otherwise, keep the details below the surface, just like the duck’s feet.
Do you like to be the center of attention? Do you change subjects quickly and often? Was your last meal the best one you’ve ever had, was the last movie you saw your new all-time favorite? If you’re answering yes to these questions, you may also be a person that is easily excitable and a bit over-enthusiastic. Genuine enthusiasm is contagious. It will attract a lot of people into your business. If, however, your enthusiasm gets out of control, it will threaten some of your prospects. Tone down the enthusiasm. Keep some of it below the surface, just like the duck’s feet.
We all have strengths that are useful in building a network marketing business. It’s your responsibility to keep yours under control just like the duck’s feet. Ducks aren’t exactly the noblest creature on earth, but then it isn’t about you. It never has been. It’s about the prospect.
It always will be.