People are often surprised by the fact that I’m a part-time network marketer. I run several businesses, including my chosen MLM opportunity. One of my most useful keys for staying sane, and still having plenty of free time for my family and friends, is the 4R approach to personal control.
This simple concept can boost your personal productivity and profitability, slash your stress levels and give you more free time to enjoy the results of your efforts
A comprehensive study of decision makers in the USA by Dr De Woodt found that members of this group are in truly productive mode for only 3% of their time. 97% of their time was spent doing things that could be done faster, better and cheaper by other people.
The “Faulty Solenoid” Syndrome
There’s a common condition I call “Faulty Solenoid Syndrome” that affects people who have difficulty deciding their priorities.
A solenoid is a simple electromagnetic device found in everyday items, such as vehicles, household appliances and machinery. When power is fed to a copper coil surrounding a cylindrical magnet, it reverses the polarity of the magnet, sending it to the opposite end of the coil. This is used to trigger on/off and open/shut switches.
However, if the solenoid is faulty, the magnet jams in the center of the coil, unable to decide at which end it should be. It vibrates furiously. creating heat, smoke, noise and, sometimes, catching fire. It’s useless… fit only to be thrown away.
Unproductive people are often just like faulty solenoids in their behavior. Because they’re unable to prioritize their activities, they worry about the things they’re not doing. They may even feel guilty choosing one thing over another. They become stressed, unable to focus on one thing because, if they’re doing this they’re not doing that, but if they do that, they’re neglecting those — so they jam up in the middle of an ever-growing pile of tasks and activities, vibrating furiously, unable to decide what they should be doing, generating friction, noise, heat and smoke, busy being busy for the sake of being busy.
The critical difference between people in this state and faulty solenoids is that people can be helped. They don’t have to be tossed aside or replaced.
Here’s a deceptively simple (but surprisingly powerful) planning approach that can streamline assigning priorities, enhance your ability to focus, and boost your productivity — and slash your stress levels — dramatically.
The 4R formula is a chain-reaction of cause and effect. And, like any process, the secret is to start at the finish(!)
Decide on the result you want to achieve. Quantify it in terms of specific targets. What will happen when the result is realized? What will people be doing? How many sales will be made? How much profit will be generated? How many prospects contacted?
Next, identify the specific actions needed to create this result. This identifies the process involved. But this is only the starting point. Flowchart these activities into a detailed Action Plan showing the stages and steps involved.
WARNING: The trouble with Action Plans is that they can become crisis triggers. Unless you can give proper priority to the various components, “Faulty Solenoid” Syndrome looms as a major threat to your success. So we need to take a step sideways and look at other ways of managing the process.
You now need to identify the resources you’ll need to complete each part of the process (actions). These may include things like money, equipment, skills, knowledge, people, time, permits, licenses, facilities… even intangible things like the attitudes and perspectives required. Remember — success lies in the details.
Having identified the resources you’ll need to create the desired result (cause and effect), it’s time to identify the sources from which those resources will come.
Any resources you don’t already have will come through relationships of one kind or another. For example, why do you have a downline team? Bankers? Suppliers? Advisors? Because they can provide resources that you lack.
Business is the exchange of resources for profit. The process of exchange is the relationships involved. Relationships are essential to every aspect of business. They’re the one HUGE competitive advantage that small business has over BIG business — and which conventional BIG business planning methods exploit as little more than a means to an end. BIG business simply doesn’t understand or value personal relationships. If you’re uncertain, ask any employee or customer of BIG business (or BIG government).
Once you’ve identified the relationships you’ll need to provide the required resources, create simple strategies to manage those relationships — to initiate, maintain and enhance the relationships themselves, always with the perspective that any results they produce are a BONUS! When people perceive that the relationship itself holds true priority over any results, you’ll be astounded by the results they’ll give you. It’s one of life’s ironies.
Put contingency plans in place, too, in case unforeseen circumstances threaten these relationships in any way. Remember the “Supposition” Principle… that it’s as important not to be misunderstood as it is to be understood in any relationship. Think through all possible implications of your decisions beforehand.
Group these relationships into manageable roles for yourself. This gives clarity, focus, cohesion and cogency to the process.
Define your roles clearly, then manage your time and activities under those roles. When planning your weekly/daily schedules, allocate blocks of time to each role. List and manage your actions and events under the appropriate roles. When it comes time to focus on a specific role, you can now focus on the relevant actions without worrying about all the others, since you know that time has been allocated for them in your schedule. Keep it flexible, too.
At the end of each day, review what you’ve accomplished. You’ll be amazed by how productive you’ve become — and how little stress you experience.
As a bonus, you’ll also find you have more free time for the relationships that normally end up neglected in the “Faulty Solenoid” Syndrome… family and friends.
Role management is the best way I know for reclaiming your life.
Remember, though — the 4R Approach is a TOOL. It’s not a process. It’s a way of managing processes in a more productive, prioritized way.
Teach it to your people.
And teach it to your kids!
Next time, I’ll outline a series of articles on the most effective way to use MLM training to build your MLM business, better, faster and smarter.
Until next week…
The Author: John Counsel is the founder and CEO of The Profit Clinic and an author, columnist, speaker and trainer specializing in small and home-based business and the direct selling profession. John has taught marketing, advertising, copywriting, graphic design and professional practice management at two of Australia’s leading universities. He is a guest lecturer in MBA and Master of Education programs at RMIT University, and trains direct sellers in several industries (including MLM) throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
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