I receive monthly updates from this website called BabyCenter. My wife was first made aware of the site while she was pregnant. What hooked her was how the site compared the size of the fetus to common fruits – from poppy seed to pumpkin.
Now our little poppy seed is three, but the monthly BabyCenter emails keep coming. This month we were directed to an article on how to build your toddler’s self-esteem. As I read the article, it occurred to me that there are a lot of similarities between raising a happy toddler and raising a happy BNI member. In part, self-esteem is about feeling valuable – feeling appreciated for the work we do and the contributions we make. The article listed 7 things that parents can do to build self-esteem:
1. Give love unconditionally. The idea is to participate with no strings attached. Givers Gain, right? A new member like myself may not be able to generate a ton of referrals now, but I’d still like to feel like I contribute. Not keeping score is a way to make sure everyone wins.
2. Listen attentively. Put the phone away. Be present. Listen. Nothing communicates “I care about what you are saying” better than active listening. Eye contact. Body language. Be welcoming. And that fosters confidence: “People really do care about what I am saying.”
3. Encourage healthy risk taking. Without risk taking there is little opportunity for meaningful success. Whether it’s bringing a guest or giving a referral, we can encourage healthy risk taking by being a solid foundation for each other, and by providing support. Being welcoming to guests encourages people to bring guests. Being responsive to referrals encourages people to give referrals.
4. Let failure happen. While we hope every referral leads to closed business, it doesn’t always happen. Therein lies a valuable message: if you are the “referrer” – you were able to draw from your pool of resources to help someone out; if you are the “referree” – someone thought enough of you to send business your way. In other words, be thankful even for the business that didn’t close!
5. Celebrate the positive. Sure, we do that every week by recognizing referrals and closed business. But, it goes beyond that – celebrating, as a group, the new addition to a family, or celebrating exceptional business growth of a fellow BNI member – even celebrating the contributions made by a member who has decided to move on. When we focus on the positive, we not only foster confidence, we create enthusiasm.
6. Resist comparisons. Comparisons are meaningless – each person here is unique – each business represented here, by design, is unique. When we see ourselves as too similar we are unable to appreciate individual talents; or when we see ourselves as too different we fail to find the connections. We’ve heard the disclaimer before: individual results may vary – and that’s a good thing!
7. Be encouraging. Positivity – even in the face of defeat – not only does it build confidence, but it also encourages future risk taking. We are all here because we want to grow our businesses. We will have down days, but under that unified purpose, we can encourage each other to achieve great things so together the trajectory of our combined efforts will arc toward success for all.
Just remember, we all started out as poppy seeds.