Be Passionate About Your Business
A Confidential Message To MLM Executives
Direct Sales Journal
by Michael L. Sheffield
CEO The Sheffield Group
The fact that you received and are even reading Direct Sales Journal probably puts you in that elite class of enlightened and exuberant entrepreneurs who are impacting the lives millions of people around the world. As a direct selling or Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) corporate executive, you must be committed and totally dedicated to serving the needs of your customers, distributors, and company employees. However, in order to meet your own needs and reach your own personal goals in this business, you must love your business, your product, and your distributors.
In fact, this must go beyond just "loving the game". Successful entrepreneurs are "passionate" about what they do.
It's curious how passion is usually positioned opposite of reason as if the two were mutually exclusive emotions. While facts and figures are important to how products are prepared and companies are created, it is emotion that determines the actions of customers, distributors, and employees. The worth of your concept and the way that idea is expressed decides what happens in the minds of the people you want to influence. Therefore, I submit that passion is not contrary to common sense. It is common sense on fire!
Clearly there is a place for rationalism. As a company executive you already know your business lives or dies by your ability and willingness to plan its future. It is imperative you define your mission, examine your business environment, plan your objectives and put your plan into action.
There is a time to take a cold hard look at reality, focus on the market and achieve clarity on how you stack up against the competition. With so many millions of dollars on the table and with so many people who will catch your vision and look to you for leadership, you need to know what you're doing.
I realize that passion is no substitute for business acumen. It can't replace principles, purpose or product savvy. But where passion matters, nothing else will take its place — not intellect, not experience, not opportunity — nada, zip, zero.
Tom Peters, the author of the best-selling business book, "In Search of Excellence," noted that "Nothing good or great can be done in the absence of enthusiasm." You can know everything about your industry — buyer perception, package appeal, pricing, promotion and the environmental impact of the product. This is all good stuff to know, but if you don't love what you're doing, it's just a job. And you're just another capitalist out trying to make a buck.
I guess there's nothing technically wrong with making money without passion any more than there is anything technically wrong with two people being married and never enjoying each other. It's not like a crime has been committed or some creed has been transgressed. Life is just less than it could and should be. If that's not wrong, it's at least sad.
You can teach a kid to throw a baseball, but you can't teach them to love the sport. People can be taught to play the piano, but they cannot be taught to love music. Yes, the business has to be in your brain, but it's got to be in your bones and blood as well. A warrior's heart and a will to win makes the difference between companies which score big time and those which just endure. So call it soul, call it zeal, call it what you will, at some point in this business, you gotta get hot!
Over the years, I've seen people start Multi-Level Marketing companies with not much more than a burning desire to succeed. They were not naturals. They were not educated in the industry. They knew next to nothing about direct sales. But, they had a passion for their business concept, mission and product. That passion carried them until they did become proficient in the other areas.
Passion empowers you to discipline yourself, stay focused, and defer other pleasures until your dream comes true. In fact, your entrepreneurial dream is your pleasure, your profession, your pastime. And when somebody asks what you do, you can look 'em in the eye and brag about your business like it was the Hope Diamond, the Holy Grail, and the Mona Lisa all in one — the greatest thing since sliced bread.
A sailor was leaning on the deck rail when a shipmate stuck his head through the hatch and hollered, "The ship is sinking!" The sailor shrugged his shoulders and muttered, "So what? It's not my ship."
As annoying as they can be sometimes, I'd rather put up with someone who gets a little too hyper once in a while than a person whose outlook on life is, "So what?" There's nothing much more pathetic than a person without purpose, passion, or preference. With nothing to do, no place to go — and the rest of his or her life to get there.
Bertrand Russel, a prominent 20th century philosopher and social critic, wrote, "The continuity of purpose is one of the most essential ingredients of happiness." Beyond a need for food and shelter, security and love, we require a reason for living.
It doesn't have to be grandiose or global, but it must be something significant. Our lives must be intentional. We're not here to just take up space.
An interesting aspect of human nature is that we're never more alive than when caught up in a cause that is greater than we are. It is absolute being — our minds molded and our senses sharpened with a sense of mission. As someone said, "The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a worthwhile purpose."
We tend to reflect our relationships. If your goal is to live with passion and principle, then your closest associates should be passionate and principled people. Their energetic, upbeat approach to life is contagious.
As a corporate executive, you should seek out corporate owners who are already on track with the type of success you want. How do you meet them? Join the Multi-Level Marketing International Association (MLMIA) and Direct Sales Association (DSA), your industry's two trade associations and attend their corporate conferences. Attend other regular events like "The Entrepreneur Series" and "Starting and Running the Successful MLM Company".
When you meet someone who seems genuinely good, strong, confident, and has attained the success you desire, make an effort to cultivate a relationship. People with these characteristics are the kind of people you want in your life.
You just can't be around positive people very long before their optimism starts to rub off. These winners in life will enhance your own efforts to become a vital, healthy, happy human being and a successful entrepreneur.
It was an early Monday morning and Adrian lay in bed with the covers pulled up over his face. His mother came into his room and said, "Alright, it's time to get up and get ready for school."
From under the sheets Adrian muttered, "No ma' I don't wanna go to school."
His mother pulled back the blankets and scolded, "Adrian, we go through this every Monday morning. You know you've got to go to school."
Tugging at the bedding Adrian whined "No ma' I ain't going."
Her patience wearing thin, his mother commanded, "Adrian, you are going. Now get up before I have to spank you!"
"Ma?" Adrian sniveled.
"Tell me one good reason why I should go to school."
"Well to start with, you're the principal."
Being an MLM executive will be frustrating and stressful at times. Face it, you will not always feel like you're full of fire and fortitude. Like any other normal human being, you'll have days when your passion is running low. Days when Murphy's Law is in full force. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong — and then some.
If your attitude is founded on nothing but feeling, you will always be subject to the ebb and flow of human emotion.
That's why you must choose — make a cold calculated decision to be a passionate, pro-active person. No matter your genetic predisposition. No matter your childhood environment. No matter your present circumstances.
In the same way that any philosophy is a life choice, living with passion is a lifestyle selection. You choose to be passionate in the same logical manner that you choose a software solution, convention location or product position. You think it through, compare your options, examine the outcome and calmly conclude, "My life and the lives of the people I care about will be better if I am upbeat and positive."
With rational intent you determine, "Certain attitudes and behaviors will effect my happiness. I will identify those attitudes and behaviors and produce them." It all sounds pretty left-brained huh? Still, that's what it comes down to though.
Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of The Sheffield Group, a full-service direct sales and multi level marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is a Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Multi Level Marketing International Association and in 2001 he was inducted into the MLMIA Hall of Fame. He and the Sheffield team have assisted in hundreds of national and international MLM corporate start-ups as well as offered a full line of services for established direct sales companies including consultation on MLM Website development. As the most noted expert on compensation plans, he has been a guest lecturer on the subject for the DSA, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Berkeley and Harvard Alumni Association. He has helped launch over 200 new products marketed by direct selling companies around the globe. He can be contacted at 480-968-6199, The Sheffield Group, 2239 N. Hayden Road, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ. 85257, website address: www.sheffieldnet.com.
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