“You either hate losing enough to change, or you hate changing enough to lose.”

This single sentence sums up my experience of seventeen years of learning, practicing and teaching in the network marketing profession. Every leader faces the consequences of this statement on a daily basis. Leaders move forward in life each time they reach a point of disgust where they can no longer tolerate their lack of results. Their feeling of dissatisfaction drives the improvements necessary to win. Leaders level off when they reach a point of comfort where they are no longer willing or motivated to endure the pain of changing required to produce better results.

Let’s take a look at several reasons why people fail or refuse to change, thereby inhibiting the leadership growth in their organizations. 

Playing the Blame Game

Some would-be leaders hate losing, so in order to protect their fragile egos, they are quick to blame their lack of results on their upline, their “thumb-sucking” groups (epithets are common during this phase), their spouses or the economy. These potential leaders truly hate losing, but in their approach they ensure continued failure by passing the buck.

If we don’t accept responsibility for our current losses, then we will not accept responsibility for the changes necessary to produce future victories. True leaders don’t blame their circumstances, even though this might give them a temporary relief from the pain of losing, because they know that playing the blame game will eventually produce a habit of losing in life.

Lou Holtz, former football coach for Notre Dame University, wrote in his book Wins, Losses and Lessons:

“The person who has never made a mistake in his own mind, who obfuscates and attempts to deflect blame, is someone you should approach cautiously. I’ve fouled up plenty in my life. In most circumstances, I’ve done my best to own up to my mistakes and take whatever steps I could to correct them.”

Is it any surprise that Lou Holtz won a national championship and led six different universities to bowl games? Lou hates losing, but he doesn’t play the blame game; instead, he takes responsibility, changes and wins. 

Downplaying the Victory

Another way potential leaders may sabotage their success is by denying that the victory will be worth the sacrifice. We frequently hear network marketers say things like, “I’m just not willing to work that hard for success,” or “I’m doing pretty well.” It’s interesting how people don’t realize life is hard work, regardless of whether they are successful. Only when one is willing to give his or her all to a worthy cause, to sacrifice for team and dream, to master the patterns of success, then and only then will he or she feel the exhilaration a winner experiences by leaving it all on the field and claiming a noble victory.

We live in a society of increasing material abundance, yet our happiness index is not going up accordingly. This is mainly because most of us fail to recognize that true happiness cannot be pursued directly. Happiness is a byproduct of the pursuit of a goal or dream bigger than ourselves. In other words, it’s not the attainment of the dream that creates happiness, but who one becomes in the process of pursuing the dream. The sacrifices on the journey to success create the self-worth that produces the happiness long before the dream is actually obtained. If you remove the sacrifices from the equation, you also take away the increase in self-worth, thus emptying the attainment of the dream of its true value.

The would-be leader will only initiate sacrifices when holding himself accountable to the scoreboard of life. 

Choosing Comfort over Change

When arriving late at a sporting event, the first thing we want to know is, “What’s the score?” Can you imagine going to a professional game where no one keeps score? Only if you are willing to keep score in the game of life and admit when you are losing will you be in a position to change and win.

I believe it’s just as important to bask in our losses as it is to bask in our victories. Instead of running from losses, champions learn from them. No one likes to lose. No one likes the humiliation of realizing he or she wasn’t good enough. However, just because you are unwilling to look at the scoreboard doesn’t mean you aren’t losing or suffering the consequences of your losses. Rather, it means you are ignorant of the changes required to get back in the game. Think of the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.

It’s easy to sit in the stands with the spectators of life who watch the courageous few struggle on the field. However, one cannot score points from the stands. A champion must exit the bleachers and step onto the field, where only the intrepid few dare to play the game and keep score. The higher your achievement, the more people will track your score. When you approach the top of your field, nearly all your leadership decisions will be publicly scrutinized by thousands of spectators who, though brave enough to speak about your failures and only too happy to tell you what you should have done differently, are unwilling to take their own advice by entering the game. Instead, they choose the comforts of the stands.

Don’t be just a fan of network marketing. Get out on the field. Start your own success journey. Experience your losses. Learn your own lessons. Grow yourself personally. Keep an eye on the score. Be prepared to claim your victory.

Only those special few who will keep score, who will accept responsibility, and who hate losing, will do what it takes to change and win. The question is worth asking every time your networking business hits a rough patch: “Do you hate losing enough to change, or do you hate changing enough to lose?”

ORRIN WOODWARD is coauthor of the
New York Times, Business Weekly,
USA Today, and Money best-seller, Launching
a Leadership Revolution. Together with
Chris Brady, he leads a network marketing
organization of several tens of thousands
of people. Their common goal is to raise the level
of professionalism and leadership in network marketing.