This is inspired by a lesson one of my network marketing mentors taught me. When I asked him what I was doing wrong, he told me, “You are spending too much time with the wrong people.”
For the purpose of this story, think of each person you enroll into your MLM business is a small pile of wood to make a campfire. You may have a couple of piles or even dozens of piles all lined up along your campsite. Each pile of wood that appears (someone you bring into the business) is smoking and ready to burst into flames. Motivated to get the fire going (motivating the person you brought into the business to take action), you go up to each pile and blow on it. Some piles of wood immediately erupt into massive fires and you walk away satisfied that the fire is burning and toss a few pieces of wood on it to keep the fire burning.
You then move onto the next pile of wood that lays on the ground smoking. You blow on it. Nothing happens. You blow even harder. Nothing happens. You then move onto the next pile of wood. Same thing happens. You blow and blow as hard as you can (trying to motivate that person to get serious and take action) and you see a small flame appear.
Excited, you move onto the next pile of wood. You blow and blow and see a small flame appear. You repeat this process several times and take a step back to look around at the fires you created. Sadly, you realize that each tiny flame that you got going burned out. Only a handful of the piles of wood are a blazing fire (those who are working the business and succeeding). You ignore the piles of wood that are burning like crazy and go back to each and every one of the small piles of wood that continue to smoke, and do all you can to get the fires going.
You find that you can blow and blow on the smoking piles of wood and get a small flame going, but within a few hours, the fire goes out. Before you know it, you’ve spent months trying to get all of the smoking piles of wood burning, running from one to the next, rarely ever getting one to burst into flames. Not only are those fires burning out, but so are you.
Discouraged, you take a step back to look at all of the campfires you have built again. You find that you have several fires burning high into the sky and somehow feeding themselves with dry wood that quickly erupts into flames.
Little do you know that it’s the fires that are already burning successfully that you need to be spending most of your time with. By fueling fires that are already successfully burning, you’ll build much larger fires (meaning, a larger organization).
You decide to change your fire-starting method. For each new pile of wood that appears (someone you enroll into the business), you spend some time with the pile of wood. You blow on it, offering the motivation to become the huge fire you know it could become. And instead of doing everything you can to motivate the fire to become its true potential, you give it one strong blow and put a pile of dry wood next to it.
But before you move onto the next smoking pile of wood, you tell each new pile of wood the following: “You came to me already smoking. You obviously already have the desire to become a blazing hot, successful fire that can light the entire forest. But it is not I that can ignite you. Your fire must come from within. You must learn how to ignite it yourself. Here, take this. This is a pile of dry wood. These are the tools you need to become a successful fire. I’m here to support you, and even toss a piece of dry wood onto your flames once you’ve started to burn. But I am not a fire-starter, I am a fire supporter. I cannot motivate you to burn, no matter how hard I try, and no matter how badly I want to see you succeed. So once you are ablaze, I will support you, and bring you all the dry wood you need to become the blazing inferno you so desire.”
You then begin working with each new pile of wood completely the opposite way compared to when you first started. You begin spending much more time and energy fueling the fires that are already ablaze. And you find that soon you’re not tossing small branches and twigs on the fires already blazing. You soon find yourself tossing large logs and the fires become larger, and more intense.
You soon realize that it is not the number of smoking hot piles of wood that could potentially burn that count, it’s the fires that are already burning that make all the difference.
And you soon find that all it takes is 3 or 4 hugely successful fires to achieve all of your hopes and dreams to light not only the forest, but your entire world.
You will find that in network marketing, you may have several, even dozens or more piles of wood in your campsite. Not all of them will reach their true potential no matter how much time, energy, or motivation you put into them. Every pile of wood lays on the ground holds within it the same potential. But it is up to the pile of wood to ignite itself into the fire it wants to become.
Support those who have ignited their own fire – their internal desire to succeed. Offer them support, marketing materials, calls, 3-way calls, meetings, or whatever it is they need to take their business to the next level. It is easy to want success more for others who have not lit their internal fire than they want it for themselves. We must not fall into this trap. Sure, it is not always easy, especially when some of the piles of wood are friends, family, and others we care about. We always want to see them reach their true potential. But sometimes they do not want it as much as you had hoped. And that is perfectly OK.
Some will eventually get the spark and their fires will start. Some will even turn into raging infernos lighting the entire forest. But know that there will be some that come into your business that never do anything but smolder, and eventually go out completely.
Know that it is not you, nor the business when those piles of wood leave your campground. It just wasn’t the right time for them to truly go after their dreams and goals. They got excited about the idea, but when it came down to taking action towards reaching their goals, fears set in, jobs changed, finances changed, or life changed. We have no control over that. You must move on and continue to fan and feed the fires that are already burning.
So go. Build your campsite with as many piles of wood as you can during the prelaunch. Shoot for a few, dozens, or even hundreds. Pay attention to which fires begin to burn and feed those fires. As tempting it may be, do not spend all of your time with the wrong people. Remember, all it takes is 3-4 wildly successful fires for you to reach unimaginable heights in this incredible profession called network marketing.