The primary task of leadership is emotional. People don’t leave their feelings at home when they go out the door. Leaders help their people focus their emotions in a positive direction.” —Harvard Business School

Networking is a relationship business; we grow, succeed and feel valued by the relationships we develop. These relationships are subject to disappointments, hurt, rejection and other negative feelings. In order to develop emotional resilience within our team, we all need to learn about the various cycles we go through and the strategies that can help us handle our feelings, instead of letting disappointments sap our energy or take our focus off the business.

In your network marketing or direct selling company everyone has the same product to sell and everyone has the same opportunities to succeed. So why do some people shoot to the top while others struggle endlessly?

The leaders in your company know that you can spend thousands of dollars training your people on product knowledge, sales techniques and recruiting skills, but if they don’t feel good, they don’t work. To overcome this, they need specific training in emotional resilience—the ability to quickly bounce back once they have encountered problems in dealing with other people.

The Four Cycles of Change

To become more emotionally resilient, we need to understand the cycles of change. We experience them not only in our life but in our businesses as well. Leaders and team members need to understand these cycles and identify which one they are in.

I call these four cycles of change 1) Go for It, 2) The Doldrums, 3) Cocooning and 4) Getting Ready.

1) Go for It
This is the high point of the cycle. It’s the honeymoon period with a new recruit. Self-talk is characterized by thoughts such as, “I’m doing the work I want to do. It’s fabulous! I’m loving it, having fun and making money! I’m achieving my goals, feeling good about myself and the choices I make.” During the Go for It phase, people feel confident, in control and fulfilled. Then something unexpected happens, such as an illness, a falling out with a friend, or having a key person in one’s organization drop out. As a result, negative emotions flare up as they move into a lower cycle.

2) The Doldrums
Research shows that new business partners will enter a stage of self-doubt six to eight weeks after being recruited. They have prospected their friends and relatives and now hit uncertainties about their ability to succeed. They feel out of sync. They get stuck, are pessimistic and can’t see a way out. They may feel slightly or even deeply depressed. They lack energy and direction and can’t motivate themselves to pick up the phone to make the next call because they dread the perceived outcome.

3) Cocooning
During this stage of the business cycle, people become more introspective. They go inward and start examining their role in life, questioning their values and searching for a new identity. They start asking probing questions such as, “What is my purpose? Do I want to continue in my business? Am I doing the work I love?” The completion of this phase leads to feelings of rebirth and self-renewal, which gradually evolve into the final stage of the cycle.

4) Getting Ready
In this phase, people move from inward questioning to outward action. They start trying new activities and experimenting with doing things they’ve been putting off. They pick up the phone and call those people who were interested six months ago. They take classes, ask questions, read books, enroll in seminars and start dreaming again. They start to reformulate the vision they have for their business and life. The knowledge and self-confidence they’ve gained encourage them to become even bolder. They’re right back in the Go for It stage of the life cycle.

Everyone goes through these predictable and recurrent cycles of positive and negative feelings. The more emotionally resilient you are, the longer you can stay in the positive feelings and the quicker you can let go of the negative ones. To become emotionally resilient we need to understand the three-step process of dealing with our feelings in a productive way.

1. Accept
Feelings are facts. People may not like what they feel (rejected when someone doesn’t return a call or hurt if their best friend isn’t interested in joining their business) but it is their reality. The emotionally healthy way of processing feelings is to first accept them. If you’re mad, be mad, if you’re sad, be sad. Many of us try to deny our feelings or gloss them over with positive self-talk. The truth is, feelings are very much in control of our energy and attitude about our business.

2. Express
Feelings have only two ways to go: “outward” or “inward.” When internalized, feelings can cause depression and hopelessness. We need to express outwardly what we feel; walking around thinking about it doesn’t count (that’s called obsessing). Find a friend, coach or therapist and talk about your feelings, or write about them in your journal.

3. Release
Once feelings have been fully expressed, it is time to release them. Let them go and be done with them. Forgiving ourselves or others is also part of this final step.

People buy into the business on an emotional high and they buy out of the business on an emotional low. What the dropouts fail to realize is that everyone in the business feels negative emotions from time to time. Successful people aren’t immune to negative feelings, they’ve just learned to manage them rather than be controlled by them. When successful people hit a low, they don’t drop out. They persevere in the face of adversity, recognizing that low periods don’t last forever.

PAT PEARSON, M.S.S.W. is an author and speaker and
has spent twenty-five years as a clinical psychotherapist.
This article is adapted from
Party with a Purpose: The Psychological
Secrets to Recruiting and Retaining Party Plan Partners.