In spring 2007 my husband and I were sitting at our kitchen table having one of our “serious chats.” It was almost two years since we founded our company and we were dissatisfied with the amount of customers we had per distributor.

We were scratching our heads to find out what was wrong: Could it be something with the product? Was it the pricing or the compensation plan? Were our leaders lazy? Why didn´t they do what we wanted them to do?

After an hour of going back and forth, it finally hit us.

Did you ever notice how every time you point your index finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing back at you? Yes, that’s right. The very reason our customer ratio was low was that we had not been leading by example. We were both the problem and the solution! That very moment everything started to change because we decided to change.

We made a decision to build a company with a target ratio of 25 customers per distributor. To accomplish this, we had to lead. During the next month both of us went out and each acquired 25 customers. Today things look vastly different: we are proud of our amazing leaders and team and thrilled with our company’s customer ratio per distributor.

The lesson is simple: to be a leader worth following, you need to be the example. If you don´t lead by example, you might know the theory behind the skills you teach, but in direct sales theory is different from practice—you need the hands-on, street-smart skills. There are no shortcuts to acquire that knowledge—it’s a numbers game!

If you make excuses, you will more easily accept excuses from others. Excuses kill development and momentum. The best way to overcome excuses is to conquer them first yourself. This builds respect—and true character. It is what helps a person rise to the top of the compensation plan—and continue to grow themselves and their business. It is what eventually creates a big following.

We’ve all had moments in our career where we look back and feel foolish because we know in our heart that we should have done something differently. Spring 2007 was one of our aha moments.

Regularly ask yourself, “Is my example worth duplicating?” If your team did what you do, how big would your business be? How many hours a week do you invest? How many distributors and customers have you enrolled this month? How often do you follow up with your team? Are you reading and listening every day? Are you following a system that is duplicable?

John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Wise words and... in our profession, everyone is watching you. What you do will either take your team to the top—or over the cliff.

Make sure that what you model will help them reach the top.

With almost fifteen years of experience in network marketing, HILDE RISMYHR SÆLE and her husband ØRJAN lead a growing team in Europe and the U.S. They are both motivational speakers and top leaders in their company, which they also co-own.

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