Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lessons in leadership

When I worked at a newspaper about 15 years ago, I interviewed a group of ROTC cadets who were going through Advance Camp at Fort Bragg. The cadets’ performance during camp could help determine whether their Army careers started well or not.

The cadets were in between their junior and senior years of college. After graduation, they would get their commissions.

One of the cadets had been in the Army before as an enlisted man. He’d come out of college an officer.

During the interview, I asked him the biggest difference between basic training and ROTC Advance Camp. He said in basic training, you want to blend in and not get noticed. In camp, you want to stand out and show your skills.

Isn’t that the difference between and leader and a follower?

Remember as network marketers we’re leaders of our group. The people we sponsor count on us to show them how to be successful.

So don’t be afraid to be noticed. Learn skills and use them.

Steve DeVane

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Swimming with the stingrays

Recently, I went on a mission trip to Belize with 33 other folks from my church. We worked hard and had a great week.

After we finished our work, we had the option to go snorkeling on the last day we were there. When they told us about it, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to go. I tried to snorkel one other time when I was a kid. It wasn’t pleasant.

And to be honest, I was tired. I would have loved to just stay in the hotel room, play on the computer and sleep.

All that to say I wasn’t planning to go. But the leader of the group kept talking about how much fun it was going to be. And it occurred to me that it’s not every day you get the chance to snorkel near the world’s second largest barrier reef.

So, I went. It took me a while to get the hang of only breathing through my mouth, but it was a blast. We saw beautiful sea life and coral scenes that defy description.

On one of our stops, the captain announced that we were in stingray alley. When he stopped the boat, stingrays were swimming all around. When we got out of the boat, they were swimming right up against us. After a while one of the others got my attention and pointed toward a four-foot barracuda about 10 feet away.

Later I thought about how I almost missed all the fun. I reflected on how life is a lot like that trip. We can stay inside ourselves and not take any chances. Or we can live life and do things we want to do — memorable things.

I also thought about why I decided to go snorkeling. The main reason was the excitement in my friend’s voice when he described it. He had experienced it. He knew it was going to be unforgettable.

Think of the experiences you have that other people need. When you talk about something that’s made a difference in your life, don’t be afraid to let it show.

Steve DeVane

Monday, July 28, 2008

Speaking up and standing out

My daughter played in a softball tournament for the state championship this weekend. Her team played well, finishing second.

I was proud of my daughter and her team. And, as I’m beginning to discover about almost everything, I learned a valuable lesson along the way.

Her coach asked me to keep the scorebook for the team during the tournament. I was glad to do it. It made me feel like I was contributing to the effort.

As in most tournaments there were rules that teams had to follow. One of them dealt with how many innings a pitcher could pitch. One pitcher could only pitch six innings over any two-game stretch.

In other words, if a pitcher pitched four innings the first game, she could only pitch two in the next game. In the game after that, she could pitch up to four more.

My daughter’s team eventually played seven games in the tournament. They won five, with their only two losses to the team that won the championship.

It was a double-elimination tournament, meaning that you could lose one and keep playing. Lose twice, you go home.

My daughter’s team had three pitchers, but two of them did most of the pitching. One pitcher started every game, pitching three innings in every one. Another pitcher would usually come on in the fourth inning and pitch the rest of the game. Each game was six innings so it worked out well.

But during the first game we lost, our second pitcher pitched less than two innings. The next game, we won with our first two pitchers going three innings each.

The following game, we got a big lead early, so the coach took our top pitcher out after the first inning, thinking he might be able to use her for more innings in the next game if needed. Our second pitcher threw the second, third and fourth innings. When our team was warming up for the fifth inning, I noticed that she was back on the mound.

So I walked over to the coach and told him I didn’t think the pitcher could pitch that inning. The coach immediately walked over to the official scorekeeper, then yelled out to the pitcher to switch positions with our shortstop, who was our third pitcher.

Turns out that if our second pitcher had pitched one pitch in the fifth inning, we would have had to forfeit the game. The coach thanked me numerous times. I was glad to help, and I found a lesson in the situation.

There once was a time when, even if I noticed something like the pitcher issue, I would have said to myself, “The coach knows what he’s doing. He wouldn’t want me getting in his business.” My self-confidence was so low, I would have automatically assumed that I was wrong.

If I would have done that this time, my daughter’s team would have needlessly lost a game they were comfortably winning.

So the lesson I learned is to speak up. Many times in network marketing, I hesitate to talk about my business because people have a negative feeling about the business.

Those of us in network marketing need to set an example and speak up when someone speaks ill of our profession.

Unfortunately, some people have given MLMs a bad name. It’s time we started getting out the good word about how much our profession can help people. This word will spread when our actions back up what we say.

Steve DeVane

Friday, July 25, 2008

Seeing the forest with the trees

Lately, I’ve been trying to take a long look at life. Seeking to step back and get a wide-angle shot of what I’m doing and where I’m going.

This thinking brought to mind a saying one of my college professors had. He taught a course on how nations related to each other. Every once in a while he’d point out that a country’s leaders had focused too much on details and failed to see the big picture.

“They couldn’t see the forest for the trees,” he’d say.

Sometimes I feel like that. I’ve got all these things going on in life that need attention. And often each of them has multiple facets, each requiring time and effort.

I like all the various areas of my life. I need or want each of them. But I need and want to know how they all connect.

When looking for answers it’s always best to first ask questions. Here’s five that I’m pondering:

What is the most important thing I want to accomplish with the rest of my life and why? Or as I friend so eloquently put it, “When you look back on your life, what do you want to see?”

What are the reasons for all the various things I do? In other words, why do I do the things that I do?

What are my priorities? Among these various things, which do I need to do more than others? Which do I want to do more than others?

Who benefits and how? When I perform these tasks, what is the result?

What do I get out of each? How do the various things fit into my life’s purpose, my mission, my reason for being?

I’m still working through all this, but I feel certain that as I consider these, the pieces of my sometimes puzzled life will start fitting together.

Steve DeVane

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A little gift that meant a lot

About a week ago I was looking for a book on a shelf when I saw something jammed between two of the larger books.

I pulled it out, and recognized it as booklet given to me by a good friend years ago. It has excerpts from “The Treasury of Quotes by Jim Rohn.” I opened it up and saw the note my friend wrote to me.

I immediately remembered thinking that it was a great gift when I had received it. Jim Rohn is one of the most influential personal development speakers in the world. The booklet meant a lot to me then and still means a lot to me.

I enjoyed perusing again the 134 quotes in the booklet. It has subject headings at the top of each page, making it easier to find an inspirational thought about the area in which you need help.

I get something every time I read one of the quotes in the booklet. Here are some of my favorites.

“If someone is going down the wrong road, he doesn’t need motivation to speed him up. What he needs I education to turn him around.”

That quote in the knowledge/education area makes me realize that the best thing to do when I know I’ve made a mistake is stop and make a course correction. Knowing you’ve made a mistake doesn’t do any good if you don’t correct it.

“Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you’ve got.”

That quote in the personal development section helps me see the importance of working on getter better as a person. I’m beginning to see that the better I get, the more my situation improves.

“My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!’”

That quote in leadership/management shows me the importance of helping other people. Another one in the same section reaffirms that thinking:

“Learn to help people with more than just their jobs; help them with their lives.”

All these quotes take on even greater meaning in network marketing, but the last two are especially important. We should strive to serve as mentors to those we sponsor. When we say, “Let’s go do it,” we’re showing them how to build a strong, successful business.

But even beyond that, we should become friends with those in our business. Friends help friends, not only with their businesses, but with their lives.

Steve DeVane

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The bridge between thought and accomplishment

The teachings of Jim Rohn have popped into my life recently on two separate occasions.

One way is a little book I found squeezed between two bigger volumes on my bookshelf. It’s called “The Treasury of Quotes by Jim Rohn.” A friend gave it to me years ago. I’ll share some of the quotes in a future blog.

The other instance is this video sent to me by another friend. It’s based on Rohn’s new book, “Lessons on Life.”

The video makes several points on ways to live to a successful life. Here’s a few of them.

Learn to be happy. The video defines happiness as “activity with purpose.”

When I was younger, I thought happiness was over-rated. To me honest, people who were happy ticked me off, which of course made me even less happy.

I’m not sure where or how I learned it, but somewhere along the way, I got it in my head that I was somehow a better person if I was unhappy. I was almost snobbish about my unhappiness. I looked down on happy people like riff-raff who had not yet learned the high and holy ways of being unhappy.

As I’ve gotten older, I see how utterly ridiculous that is. Why not be happy? Being happy certainly beats being unhappy. And the great thing is, happiness is a choice. If you want to be happy, all you have to do is decide to be happy. Now some things will make you sad at times, but for the most part, happiness is only a decision away.

Discipline yourself. Discipline, according to the video is the bridge between thought and accomplishment. We all suffer from either the pain of discipline, which weighs ounces, or the pain of regret, which weighs tons, the video says.

We often think of discipline in a negative sense, as in punishment. But discipline, as in self-control, is a positive. We become better people when we learn to apply ourselves.

Embrace change. The video points out that we can change all things for the better when we change ourselves for the better.

Today, it seems change is happening everywhere. Someone said the only constant in the world these days is change.

So change is happening. We can’t stop it. Why not embrace it and make the most of it by changing ourselves for the better.

Live well. If we don’t design our own lives someone else will, according to the video.

Too often we get stuck in the day-to-day existence of life. We do the so much that busyness becomes our only business.

It seems difficult, but we are in control of our lives. We just have to realize it and do something about it.

Take some time and think about where your life is going. It’s a great time to start improving your life for the better.

Want to know what the best five years of your life are?

The next five years. Make the most of them.

Steve DeVane

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Go-giving in action

Shortly after I wrote a post about a presentation by one of the author's of The Go-Giver, I spotted a video blog that provides a good example.

Jim Kukral posted a blog called "The Power of Free! A Case Study." It talks about his experience in four weeks after he launched a web site that gives away information on how to make web videos without having to spend a lot of money on equipment.

Kukral said four things happened in the month after he started the site.

(1) He was contacted by what he called a "big-time book publisher" inviting him to write a book about the business of online video.

(2) He was invited to speak at what he called a "mastermind event" about online video.

(3) He was interviewed by what he called a "major market publication" that goes out to more than 400,000 readers.

(4) He got two "consulting gigs" from companies that got the kit and decided they could use his help.

Kukral asked his viewers what they're giving away from free.

"When you give, you get and it comes back in spades," he said. "I'm living proof."

He then adds that whatever you give away, it has to be truly free. It can't be preloaded with sales pitches.

"What can you give away that's very valuable information that's free?" he asked. "Go ahead and do it and you'll see good things happen."

That's great advice.

Steve DeVane
This free e-book contains valuable information for anyone looking for success in network marketing.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

A go-getter with a go-giver's heart

I recently heard a presentation by Bob Burg, who wrote “The Go-Giver” with John David Mann.

Burg said pointed out that the opposite of a go-giver is not a go-getter, but a go-taker. Being a go-getter is good as long as you have the heart of a go-giver, he said.

The key, Burg said, is to shift one’s focus from getting to giving. You do this by constantly adding value to people’s lives. This is not only nice but a profitable way to live life.

Burg went over five laws of success.

— The law of value says that your truth worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Give more in use value than you take in cash value and everyone will feel great.

— The law of compensation says that your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. People will exchange money for that which they feel has equal or greater value. By adding value, you’ll build an extraordinary business through referrals.

— The law of influence says your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first. All things being equal, people do business with people they know like and trust. There’s no better way to elicit those feelings than to add value to their lives. Think of how you can make their life better before you earn opportunity to do business with them.

Burg said he was not saying to give without expecting to receive, but instead to give without emotional attachment to receive. It’s OK to expect to receive. Great things happen because great relationships are established, he said.

Burg said win-win relationships are not 50-50, but are instead “100-100” with both people caring more about the other person.

— The law of authenticity says the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. Skills are all for naught if you’re not yourself, Burg said. Be authentic and communicate it. Multiplies skills sets. People sense authenticity. Why fake it when being truly authentic is profitable, he said.

— The law of receptivity says that the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. Burg said giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. There can be no giving without receiving. If add value to other’s lives, you’ve earned the right to receive, he said.

Steve DeVane
This free e-book helped me understand the power of giving.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The value of time

The other day, I was off work and had a little time to catch up on some things that I had been putting off.

One of those things was a small leak behind our toilet. My wife had noticed it a month or so ago, and I had promised to take a look at it.

The leak wasn’t bad, just a drip every once in a while, but it needed to be fixed.

So I crawled down where I could get a good look at it, and discovered the source of the leak at the point where the water line goes into the tank. Perhaps it just needs to be tightened, I thought. So I headed off to get some wrenches out of my toolbox.

I tightened the bolt. The leak got worse.

The more I tightened, the worse it leaked.

I finally turned off the water to keep the bathroom from being flooded. I disconnected the water line, took off the water line and the connection and got ready to go to the hardware store.

Then I remembered that our faucet wasn’t turning off all the way. Might as well fix it, too, I thought. So I took off what I thought was the cause of that problem and headed off to the store.

About an hour later, I returned with the stuff I thought would fix the problem. Only cost about $10.

I attached the new water line to the toilet, then put the new gasket on the faucet.

Turned the water on. The toilet still leaked. I tightened it as much as I dared. Still it leaked.

Worse news at the faucet. It was running even though it was supposed to be off. I turned it on and the knob came off in my hand and water spewed out all over the place.

I ran to the road, turned off the water and told my wife we’d have to call a plumber.

Fortunately, the plumber said he could be at the house in about an hour. When he arrived, I explained the problem.

Took him about 30 seconds to fix the toilet. He just tightened it more.

The faucet was a little trickier. He had some trouble getting it disassembled, but in the end all it needed was a little spring and a gasket – just not the gasket I had gotten at the store.

That made me feel a little better. Had I persisted, I would have spent the better part of the day on it and likely would not have figured out that all it needed was the spring and gasket. I would probably would have bought a whole new faucet assembly.

All in all, the plumber was well worth the $75 he charged us. He knew what he was doing. I didn’t.

What lesson did I learn? Time has value.

I spent about three hours and $10 and made both situations worse. For $75, the plumber fixed the problems in less than an hour, and the only time I needed to spend was about two minutes to explain the issues.

So, even if I’d have fixed the problems, which I didn’t, my time was worth somewhere around $22 an hour. In this instance, $22 an hour of inexperience was worth far less than $75 an hour of expertise.

Steve DeVane
This mentoring program helped me learn to make better use of my time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Strength under control

Has anyone ever described you as gentle?

Did you take it as a compliment?

I admit, I’ve always had a negative feeling about the word. Who would want to be gentle?

Then this morning, my pastor talked about the passage in the Bible where Jesus describes himself as gentle and humble. Humble, I was OK with. Gentle, not so much.

Then my pastor defined gentleness as “strength under control.” The example he gave was wild horses that are tamed. They still have the same strength, the same horsepower if you will, but it’s been brought under control.

As I thought more about it later, I remembered one of the highest compliments I received in 20-plus years as a journalist. A state legislator who I had interviewed numerous times told me I was a “gentleman reporter.”

I told him I appreciated it, but I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant until a few years later when a colleague wrote a column about me when I was leaving the paper. He pointed out that some reporters thought you should do whatever it takes to get the story, and added that I would disagree with that but get the story anyway.

As I thought about that, it brought to mind my pastor’s description of humbleness as “the sane estimate of ourselves and our abilities.”

I’ve often underestimated myself and my abilities simply because I didn’t want to appear stuck up or overconfident. That’s not exactly insane, but it wasn’t good thinking either.

I’m not sure where I got it, but somewhere along the way I got the erroneous idea that thinking less of myself would somehow allow other people to think better of themselves.

Life doesn’t work that way. In fact, the opposite is true. It is by being true to ourselves that others are better able to get in touch with their true selves.

Steve DeVane
This free e-book helped me better understand myself.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The trail of fears

Recently I went on a trip to Belize with some folks from my church. We spent four days working and about a day and a half sightseeing.

One of the sights we wanted to see was the Blue Hole. It had been raining hard that day, and initially it appeared that the park where the Blue Hole was located was closed. But a park employee came out and opened the gate to let us in.

Before long we were hiking along a muddy, slippery trail in search of the pool of water. Since it had been raining and I hoped to take a dip in the Blue Hole, I had changed my tennis shoes for sandals. Big mistake.

Our group got spread out along the trail as some of the younger, more adventurous ones went on ahead. After a while the group I was in heard someone shouting behind us.

It was the park ranger. Turns out we were on the wrong trail. I understood him to say the trail we were on didn't even go to the Blue Hole. I agreed to try to catch us to the ones ahead of us, while the others turned around.

After a couple of near slips, I knew I wasn't making up much ground. I decided I had to run. So run I did.

Weird things go through your mind when your running along a slick rain forest trail.

Things like, "If I fall down that steep embankment, will they ever find my body?"

And, "What in the world am I doing here?"

And, "I certainly wouldn't have put on these sandals if I knew I was going to have to run?"

Eventually, I caught up with several of the others. I went back with a group of them while another fellow went ahead and caught up with the others. On the way back the raindrops came to an end and mosquito swarms came out of nowhere.

Later, I found out that I had misunderstood the ranger. The trail did go to the Blue Hole, it was just a mile and a half away — a good 45 minute hike on a dry day. A few of those in the group made it to the pool and even took a swim.

I never even laid eyes on the Blue Hole, but the others told me it wasn't very blue because of all the rain.

Initially, I was disappointed, tired and frustrated. Looking back, it wasn't so bad. We all made it back, although a few had some minor injuries, and it makes a great story.

So what did I learn, other than never change into sandals when you're going to be hiking through a rainy rain forest?

First, I learned it's best to know where the trail leads before you start. Sometimes in life, we're faced with multiple options. It's good to be decisive and take action, but it's usually better to get the information you need to make a good decision.

Next, I learned it's best to listen closely to people who know the lay of the land. Had I realized that the trail eventually led to the Blue Hole, I would have likely either turned back then or kept going until I reached the destination. Either way, I wouldn't have had to make a mad dash on slick grass.

At times, when we face a decision it often pays to find someone who's been in a similar position. Find out how they fared and learn from their experience.

Finally, I learned that it pays to have a leader. If any of us had ever been on that trail, we would have known how far it was to the Blue Hole. We would have known to drive down to another trail, much closer to where we wanted to go.

In life and in business, a good mentor makes the difference. Find someone who's already successful and do what they did. They know the trail already.

Steve DeVane
This mentoring program made a difference in my life and business.