I was watching my son's soccer game this morning in the pale but welcome November sunshine. The "boys" are playing in a league for 17- and 18-year-olds; the play is very skilled--and very competitive.

This morning's game was against their most intense rivals, a team quite hungry to win this match. As I warmed the aging wooden bleacher seat, I watched the young heroes forging their character in an epic play of wit, athleticism and determination.

Now, I'm back home, warming the wooden seat of a chair in my kitchen and thinking about the qualities of tenacity and heart we develop on the field of network marketing.

Opponents on the Field

There are a lot of opponents on our field of play: the objections, our own constraints of time and money, limitations in our skills and character, and (perhaps most of all) our own resistance to do what it takes.
We're out there with our eyes on the goal and a determination to win; but darned if it isn't tough to score. There are a lot of opponents on our field of play: the objections, our own constraints of time and money, limitations in our skills and character, and (perhaps most of all) our own resistance to do what it takes.

The objections are the least of our worries. With a little practice with our team, we can learn to dribble the ball right past most objections. Overcoming or stepping through objections is really a simple skill set that just takes a bit of practice with drills of "feel," "felt" and "found." Repeat after me: "I know how you feel; I've felt that way, too; and this is what I've found...." (And don't let the objection throw you: always, always, keep your eye on the ball.)

Without a lot of practice, repetition, and skills drills, this outstanding team my son plays with would be a team of contenders only, seldom one of winners. But they've been doing this for years. All have sought extra help in coaching clinics and soccer camps to improve on their basics; even the best of them show up for practice every week. (Do you?)

Often we'll hear complaints from new business associates about lack of time or money hindering their progress. Just as often, we'll watch people succeed who had every difficulty stacked against them: health issues, small children, no car and a load of debts about to cave in the roof of their trailer home. In every field of endeavor, we are inspired by the stories of those who made it to the top because they could transform life's challenges into a fire in their bellies; that ability is what separates winners from whiners.

This morning a player on the opposing side came limping to the sidelines, complaining that a player had deliberately injured him in a collision over a flying soccer ball. His coach kindly and quickly set him straight: the play was clean; his job was back on the field. I hope I can be that kind of coach when my team members complain about their busy lives, or the resistant people in their town, or any other of the endless roll of excuses. If you want success, get in and play the game. Success is to be found on the field, not on the sidelines.

Pushing the Limits

Who are the most successful team mates on my son's soccer team? For me, one stands out.

This boy is a hero of mine. I want to face up to my towering fears of rejection they way he faces the other players.
A few of the lads are naturally large, coordinated and athletic; most of the others have developed super skills through adversity. One fellow, at five-foot-four and a hundred pounds, is at a huge disadvantage on this field of aggressive giants; but he has a fire in his spirit that sees him starring as a striker, digging for the balls, outpacing boys who tower over him, and coming back again and again with dogged determination to get that ball and get the goal.

This boy is a hero of mine. I want to face up to my towering fears of rejection the way he faces the other players.

We moved to a new city this year so my son could experience the challenge of a higher level of competitive soccer than was available in our Christmas-card-pretty little town of Nelson, BC. My son is a gifted player who had excelled at soccer with grace and ease--before we moved to the larger city of Victoria. In this more competitive league, he had to work hard for his position on the team, then push himself to further improve his strength and speed to make the starting line-up. I can see clearly how this step up to another level of play has given him resources he'll call on his whole life when he needs to find the grit or the confidence to reach another goal.

In this new city, I'm picking up speed to take my business and my team to the next level of play. We're stretching out of the comfort zone in order to grow. My husband has been making cold calls from the phone book to a target group of potential clients. He resisted for days, then called on his courage, made the calls, and discovered a gift for phone relationships. We are re-setting our life goals in this new home of ours, stretching our horizons with each victory and each defeat alike.

In this new city, athletics forges my son's character even as networking forges mine.

The last time they played this team, my son's team lost. This morning, in the sun-speckled November chill, they won--by a single goal. Both times, they learned much to apply to the next game. It's not what you've done, it's what you do next. It's playing your best, with tenacity and with heart.n

SHANNON ANIMA, B.Ed., M.A., is a successful networker and author of Parenting with Purpose: How to Raise Great Parents and Kids with Vision and Values.