Step #3: Personal development…

Carol Dweck popularized the term, “growth mindset.” What is a growth mindset?

People with a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed through:

  • practice
  • hard work 
  • perseverance.

Growth mindset people are more open to learning new things and attempting challenging tasks.

What is the opposite of a growth mindset?

A fixed mindset. People who believe they are stuck with what abilities they currently have. They don’t want to attempt learning new things because they feel it won’t make a difference. They feel resigned to where they are.

How about an example?

A fixed mindset would say: “I’m not good at math.”

A growth mindset would say: “I need to invest extra effort to improve my math skills, but I can learn to get better.”

We hear prospects with fixed mindsets tell us these objections:

  • I am not good at business.
  • I could never learn to do that.
  • This sounds too hard to do.
  • I am not good at selling.
  • Why try? I will only fail.
  • This will take too long.
  • I tried and failed with something like this before.
  • I don’t have any energy.
  • I don’t have any time.
  • I don’t have any money.
  • I don’t know enough.
  • It’s not worth it.
  • I wouldn’t know where to start.
  • I don’t know any people.
  • I am too shy to leave my room.
  • Nothing ever works for me.
  • I would love to go the extra mile, but there might be a lot of traffic there. I better stay where I am.

The above objections arise from fixed mindsets. These prospects decided they can’t do something without even trying. They gave up before they started! We can feel the resignation in their voices. Frustrating and sad to watch.

Now as we look at these objections, we think, “I don’t want to sound like that. I don’t want to give up before I even had a chance to try. I want a growth mindset!”

Good choice. 

If we are reading this book now, we have a growth mindset. Great news for us.

Knowing our destination gives us a direction.

We want to be in the top 1% in network marketing. Without a goal, it is impossible to know which direction to start our journey.

Think about people without goals. Motivation is hard. They tend to drift in the easiest direction. Their Maslow’s Pyramid looks something like this.

Let’s choose a good direction if we want to put effort into our lives. We want to look back and proudly say, “I spent my time wisely.”

Zig Ziglar said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”

Goals make sure we put our efforts in the right direction. Since we are reading this book, we know our goal already, to be in the top 1% in network marketing. We are moving in the right direction.

Goals help us answer questions like these.

  • Where do we want to be in five years? 
  • What do we want our lives to look like? 
  • How do we want to feel as we live our lives?
  • How much money do we want to earn? 
  • How much time and freedom do we desire?
  • What kind of lifestyle do we want to live? 
  • Do we want our efforts to make a difference to others?
  • Who do we want to help?

If we don’t answer these questions for our lives, then someone else will answer these questions for us. Ouch.

So how does our growth mindset relate to personal development?

People with a growth mindset continually work on themselves. They want to improve. They want to learn new things and expand their potential. This is what we call personal development.

We make deliberate and conscious choices to improve ourselves in some way. We can choose to improve our:

  • Attitude.
  • Skills
  • Character.
  • Knowledge.
  • Mindset.
  • Abilities.
  • Health.
  • Relationships.

Plenty of areas for us to choose.

Remember those fixed mindset people? They would say, “I don’t need personal development. I am good enough.” But that is them talking, not us.

Personal development takes us from where we are now, to where we want to be in the future.

If we believe in constant improvement, then our personal growth will never stop. No finish line for us here. We want our lives to be better.

Personal growth is a journey, something we live every day. It is not a destination. It is not someplace we get to … and then stop.

So where do we start?

Here is the secret that explains everything.

“The only thing between us, and where we want to be, is a whole bunch of things that we don’t know … yet.”

If we already knew these things, then we would already be where we wanted to be!

This is where a growth mindset helps. We know we have to learn more, and we believe that we can. People with fixed mindsets give up at this point.

But, here is the challenge.

We don’t know what we don’t know. And if we don’t know what we don’t know, then how will we ever figure out what we don’t know? How can we learn new things when we don’t know what to learn?

Thankfully, there is a solution.

We have books, audio instruction, mentors, seminars, workshops, and a world of information and skills from people who have gone before us. This is where we will find the answers to our question, “What do I have to learn to go to the next step?”

Where is the best place to start?

Everyone has a different starting point. Do some people have a head start? Yes, and that is okay. We need to start building from where we are now.

Don’t worry about that superstar on stage. Don’t worry about that person with the magic personality. Don’t worry if some people seem to have natural advantages.

It doesn’t matter where we start, as long as we point in the right direction. That means every little thing that we learn, moves us closer to where we want to be. Our progress accumulates. We get better every day like a giant snowball rolling down a hill.

Management expert, Peter Drucker, said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” 

Where did I start?

Near the bottom. Okay, maybe I had to look up just to see the bottom. It wasn’t pretty.

When I started, I was a shy, nerdy, personality-free, charisma-bypassed, socially awkward wallflower, and should not have been allowed out in public. Not a pretty site. My childhood was on a remote rural farm, and all I had to talk to were the cows. Later, I studied engineering. Engineering students don’t even talk to each other. If there was an award for invisible, or least-remembered, I would have made the hall of fame. I was ill-prepared to start even basic conversations. A conversation with a stranger was terrifying. I didn’t even have the advantage of being a social media influencer. Oh, and I wasn’t an Instagram model.

Did I have a lot to learn? Oh my. I had to learn almost everything from scratch. I was even clueless about basic social manners. I had never heard the words “goal-setting” in school. Everything I learned was a new discovery. 

I started with an audio. No, I didn’t download this audio from an imaginary Internet. It wasn’t on a CD. On audio cassette tape? No, they hadn’t been invented yet. It was on a scratched, vinyl, 45 rpm record. My sponsor loaned me this single recording from Earl Nightingale called “The Strangest Secret.” 

Did I grasp the message? No. I was clueless. But, it did give me a hint that there was a lot that I didn’t know. I was pointed in the right direction.

The journey ahead

This is a long road. There is no end destination. Our goalposts will always move as we get better. That is good news. Our personal growth should never end. We can always improve. Life is our adventure. Let’s experience life at a higher level.

Education is expensive.

Not in money, but in time. When I started in network marketing, I didn’t have a budget for self-improvement. Where could I go to learn more?

The obvious source of great ideas and information is from books. Thank goodness for a free library system. It didn’t take long to go through their limited selection of self-improvement books, but by that time I already knew exactly what I wanted to learn.

Next step? Search some used bookstores. There was not much available 50 years ago, but another baby step.

Today? Many successful people have made their network marketing journey before us. Let’s learn some of their lessons to speed up our growth.

What are the first lessons I learned in my personal development journey?

Attitude. 

I never knew there was such a thing. But, I learned that attitude was the lens through which I saw the world, and how the world saw me. Did I have a bad attitude before? Maybe not a horrible attitude, but certainly I was a self-appointed skeptic of everything. Few people want a skeptical friend or a skeptical business associate. 

I worked on having a more positive and supportive point of view, and guess what? More positive reactions happened immediately. 

Instead of criticizing other people’s ideas, I tried to be more supportive. More people would stay in conversation with me. Huge progress for this introvert. My family noticed and appreciated my improved attitude also. I was on my way!

Goals. 

I spent my entire life as a follower trying to fit in. I accepted what other people told me to do. It never occurred to me to have an original plan. Did I know how to set smart goals, better goals, or actionable goals? No. That would come later. 

There is an old saying, “If we don’t know where we are going, then any road will take us there.” That was how I lived my life, without a clue and without direction. Baby steps.

Relationships. 

I thought relationships happened automatically, but I learned that we could create them. We don’t have to passively hope someone will like us or connect with us. We can take the initiative to get to know others better and make new friends. 

Action. 

I read successful people took action. Everyone has ideas. Nothing special in having ideas. But, successful people put ideas into motion and get results. That made sense to me, so I took action on every idea that crossed my path. Some ideas worked, and some didn’t. That was okay. I knew that if I kept taking action, something would work for me. 

Procrastination.

I was good at procrastination. But, this is not a good habit to master. Was I lazy? That could be true. I thought, “Why get motivated when I don’t know what I want?” Having a goal helped me have a reason to start taking action. I was beginning to see where all these personal development skills were coming together. There is power in synergy.

Reactions. 

Whew! This was a big revelation to me.

Most humans go through life on autopilot, reacting to whatever happens to them at the moment. If we smile at them, they smile back. If we say “hi” to them, they say “hi” back to us. What happens when we go into a retail store? What do we say when the sales clerk asks us, “Can I help you?” What is our automatic reply? “Oh no, I am just looking.” 

What if I changed my reply to, “Yes, I am looking for a gift for my sister’s birthday.” Whoa! A totally different reaction from the sales clerk. I learned that I could affect the reactions of others by changing my word. Oh my!

Do we see a pattern yet?

These responses are examples of automatic programs in our human brains. These programs control our behaviors automatically, without thinking about them. And these automatic reactions are powerful.

Humans go through life reacting, reacting, and reacting.

Now, here is the question.

We meet a prospect. Does the prospect’s behavior have anything to do with the prospect? Or does our prospect’s behavior have everything to do with what we say and what we do?

This was a tough lesson for me to learn. 

I realized that I wasn’t a victim of the current circumstances, but that I caused these circumstances.

If people are reactive, and they react negatively to me, uh-oh, I am the cause. I did not take that lesson very well. But, when I finally took personal responsibility for my actions, this simple lesson changed everything. This meant I was in more control of the outcome than I thought. I had to stop being the victim of what was happening. Ouch. This lesson hurt.

I changed my thinking. “If I don’t like how prospects react to me, change what I say and do.”

The pros know this.

Instead of looking for the perfect prospect, ready to buy, we have the power to create prospects on demand by saying and doing better things.

We are not victims. We have the power to write our future.

The next personal development lesson? 

Action makes things happen.

A simple law of physics? Action makes things happen. Until we take action, nothing happens. Seems wishing, hoping, and planning don’t move things forward.

Just because I set goals, it did not mean they would automatically happen. Planning alone is not enough. I would get excited about hundreds of possibilities, but thinking about things won’t get the job done. On the plus side, at least I was thinking about how I could have a personally-designed future.

My biggest breakthrough?

Listening. 

I spent my early career talking to people with my agenda. When they talked, I wasn’t listening. I was waiting for them to finish so I can get back to telling them my message. Did others notice my agenda? Yes. They could feel it. It was all about me. My lack of interest in what they were saying was obvious. Of course, they didn’t like that. 

My lack of social skills had never entered my mind. All these lessons were a huge surprise for me.

What did I notice most about listening? When I listened to people with interest, they liked that. Now, creating relationships became easy. This simple change is one of the strongest ways of building rapport with others. No teacher ever brought this up in my engineering classes.

The bigger benefit happened later. Instead of me lip-syncing a pre-programmed agenda, I could now adjust what I said based on their interests. It seems people are most interested in themselves, not me or what I had to offer. Quite a surprise. This explained why no one was reacting to my wonderful sales pitch.

I couldn’t talk to my prospects about what interested them, because I didn’t know what interested them. I was too busy talking about me and my business.

There was some good news though. Being an introvert, it wasn’t hard for me to learn to listen. I was less nervous. And then some magic happened. Prospects opened up more and told me about their problems. They wanted to fix their problems. Now there was a reason for them to listen to what I had to say.

Did I have any natural personal development skills when I started?

No. I am sure my sponsor put an ice pack on his forehead every day to dull the pain from slapping his forehead.

But what if we already have basic social skills? Wow. What a great head start on our careers. This means we could concentrate our personal development to more than the simple basics. Few people start as ill-equipped as me. But no matter where we start, we can learn and grow from there.

Here’s the good news. Personal development makes us better people. Others are happy when we improve. No one is telling us, “Stop becoming a better person.” It is nice to have the support of our friends and family.

Personal development is not expensive in money, but it does take time.

If we are time-poor, how can we fit personal development into our days? Jobs, family, commuting, eating, and sleeping all take time. Then what will be our plan?

Baby steps.

If reading is uncomfortable, let’s start by reading one page a day. It is hard to stop after only one page, so we will naturally continue a bit longer. 

Can’t stand reading? How about an audiobook? Have someone read the book to us.

Prefer in-person learning experiences? Replace our golf or Internet scrolling time with a live workshop.

Every decision we make has a cost. Choosing to do one activity means not doing another activity. The cost of personal development is time.

The benefits?

We will be happier, healthier, more successful, and grow as a person. This means we can make a bigger difference in the world.

As we grow and change, our interests will upgrade to better skills. What we once found fascinating may no longer hold our attention. Our journey gets better.

Personal development is not a one-time event. It is a continuous journey that unlocks our hidden potential.

Want to make personal development almost automatic?

Choose our associations.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
—Jim Rohn

Jake Pena has an alternate way to describe this. He says, “If you hang around four broke people, I guarantee you will be number five.” It’s a powerful way of remembering this principle. Some examples?

  • If our four closest friends work out at the gym every day, we will be in shape.
  • If our four closest friends are alcoholics, chances are we will have a drinking problem.
  • If our four closest friends love to gossip, we will gossip too.
  • If our social connections are emotional vampires, they will drain our motivation.
  • If we surround ourselves with people who want to achieve more, personal development will feel great for us.

This is common sense. Even parents know this. They tell their children not to hang around gang members.

Maybe we can’t affect all our associations. But with a little bit of effort, we can improve who we spend our time with. We don’t have to ditch all our old friends. Just find a few good ones to add to our associations.

No permission is needed.

We can start our personal development immediately. The first step in personal development is admitting we are not perfect and can be better. That was hard for my ego. It took me years of bad results before I admitted I was the problem. Everyone around me could see it but me. 

To start? It takes the willingness to take an honest look in the mirror and accept responsibility for our own actions and results. If we don’t like the reflection in the mirror, then we need to change ourselves. And then, we are off on our adventure!

We can’t start a new life if we keep re-living our past.

My next step?

Finally, because of my self-improvement progress, I could afford to buy books. I knew exactly the books I wanted. For me, I didn’t need more inspiration. I didn’t need more motivation. I desperately needed to know how to do stuff such as:

  • How do I make a sale? 
  • How do I close prospects? 
  • How to overcome my fear of talking to people? 
  • What do leaders do? 
  • Where can I find more prospects? 
  • Why don’t people listen to me? 
  • What is going on in my prospects’ illogical minds? 
  • What can I say to inspire people to action?

So many questions, so much to learn, so little time. I was ready for some specific skills of exactly what to say, and exactly what to do, to improve my interactions with prospects.

This led me to Step #4: Learn network marketing skills.

Excerpt from

Be the Top 1% in Network Marketing

7 Simple Steps to Leave the 99% Behind