As a network marketing professional, you are a coach and teambuilder whose ultimate goal is to bring out the best in everyone you touch, based on the vision you hold for them.

In this series, we’ll explore four foundational “vision keys” at the very heart of servant leadership. Applying these four vision keys will amplify the fun, loyalty and synergy among your friends and teammates; your relationships will deepen and your business will grow in direct proportion. In fact, you’ll find that these vision keys extend beyond your business to serve you in every aspect of your life, providing a compass to chart your course toward balance, success, peace of mind, and love.

Whom Do We Take for Granted?

Who are the people in our lives we most often tend to
forget to thank?

I’ve asked this question in every seminar I’ve ever taught, and have always heard similar responses. The people we most often forget to thank are those to whom we are the closest: our spouse, children, parents, the people we work with every day.

We so easily fall into the habit of taking for granted those people we love the most. We can rationalize that we don’t need to tell them how we feel about them because they should already know, but the end result of neglect is decay. The more we fall into the habit of withholding our appreciation, the more disconnected we become from the countless blessings in our lives.

I once stood looking at a brilliant blue sky and happened to spot a brightly colored hot-air balloon. It struck me that fresh, exciting relationships are like those beautiful balloons: light, vibrant, colorful, filled with energy. They soar effortlessly, because they are lighter than air! That’s how we feel when we fall in love, welcome our children into the world, or make a new friend. It feels so easy and natural to thank our buddies when we’re in the “glow.”

But what happens when we begin to take them for granted? The first time we forget to express our thanks, it’s as if we pierce that balloon with an acupuncture needle. This tiny puncture doesn’t make the balloon explode; instead, it starts a slow, imperceptible leak. Each succeeding time you forget to thank your buddy, you stick another needle in and start another quiet, unnoticed leak. Once enough leaks accumulate, the balloon begins to visibly deflate and it soon falls from the sky.

In our relationships, it gradually feels as if the spark has begun to fade. Where there was once spirit, energy, and connection, there is now emptiness and detached coexistence.

How do you reverse this downward cycle and keep your relationships alive and energized? The answer is in the principle of exaggeration.

Changing an Old Habit

When practicing the freestyle stroke (or “crawl”), swimmers often develop a “wide arm pull,” the habit of not pulling far enough under the center of your body, where you have the greatest leverage and power. As a swimming coach, I often had to help kids find a way to correct this flaw. Whenever I would say, “Pull down the centerline of your body,” what response do you suppose the swimmer would give me?

Looking at me as if I’d lost my marbles, she’d reply in exasperation, “I am!”

Have you ever had exactly that response from downline members when you try to coach them to take their call activity or follow-up to a new level?

As a coach, it is crucial to remember that what you see may not match what your protégés are feeling. These kids had become comfortable pulling wide under their bodies. The feeling was ingrained. It did absolutely no good to tell them how to do it: they thought they were already doing it correctly!

So, I would apply the principle of exaggeration. I would instruct them to pull as far across their body underwater as they could, so the right hand swept way left under their bodies and the left hand crossed way over to the right. When they followed these instructions, guess where they pulled? Zap! Right down under the centerline!

I know at first it felt strange and uncomfortable for them, but the more they stayed with it, the more natural the motion became. Soon they settled into the new habit.

New Gratitude Habits

Taking those we love and appreciate for granted is simply a habit. You can apply the principle of exaggeration to invigorate your relationships by becoming a world-class-buddy-thanker, just as the swimmers applied the principle to improve their strokes.

Write personal cards to friends, teammates, clients, and family members expressing your gratitude and admiration even when it’s not their birthday or anniversary. These “just for the heck of it” cards will delight the recipients, and they will once again know they are important. E-mail and voice mail provide fantastic opportunities to give compliments and say thanks.

Create “moments” for the special people in your life by giving unexpected gifts, arranging surprise events, or simply taking the time to be fully present as you tell them how much you appreciate them. The example you set will stimulate great support within your team.

Make it a regular habit to ask yourself, “What am I truly grateful for right now?” and you’ll remember an important truth that will humble and inspire you at the same time. Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph expressed it perfectly: “No matter what great things you accomplish, somebody always helps you.”


BRIAN BIRO is a father, husband and coach. He is author of Beyond Success and Through the Eyes of a Coach.
He was subject of the lead story in our April 2004 issue.