Ask Ivan Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
greatest asset

How talking too much in class turned into my greatest asset

Those tendencies standing “in your way” can be “the way”‘ to success and can become your greatest asset. When I was in elementary school, I generally received good reports from my teachers. However, one thing that came up time and time again was a comment by almost all of my teachers: “Ivan talks too much in class.”

My mother had numerous conversations with me about this but to no avail. I figure that she thought my grades were pretty good and she generally liked to pick and choose her battles on issues. Consequently, she didn’t really push the matter, and so… I talked and talked and talked in class. It showed up on many of my report cards. My teachers felt that it was a problem for me in school. On the other hand, my mother didn’t give me much grief on the subject.

My Greatest Asset

My talking too much in class was thought of as a roadblock by my teachers. Candidly, at one point, they almost had me convinced that it was a problem. My mother — not so much. She didn’t see my talking as such a big issue and that gave me the freedom to be myself. True, I had to tone it down a bit — but it wasn’t drummed out of me. I am grateful for that because, despite the fact that some people thought that talking was blocking my way, the truth is — it would eventually become “the way” for my life.

While the teachers definitely felt that it was a roadblock to my learning, I think they may have been wrong on that. What my teachers saw as a problem ended up becoming an incredible asset. I talk a lot. I talk to individuals, small groups, middle size groups, large groups, and massive groups. Any way you cut it — I’m a talker. It is my greatest asset. My job today is to talk to people. In fact, I get paid to talk. I get paid a crazy number to talk to companies, associations, and organizations. I love to share ideas with people, I love to coach people, and most of all I love to inspire people. And to do that — I talk.

Over the years, I’ve learned that oftentimes, What is in the way, becomes the way”.  

I believe the secret is to take the thing that is “in the way” and channel your efforts in a manner that makes that problem part of the solution. I have noticed that my wife, Elisabeth, has been able to channel what was in the way for her as a child and how powerfully that has served her. She was constantly being told that she was “too rebellious.” She had a very hard time doing things she was told she had to do just because an authority figure in life told her she must do them. Now when she was faced with a medical diagnosis and told by her medical doctor that there was only one path, her strong “rebellious” nature found another, more effective and gentle healing path. What was in her way has become her way!

Some of us do this unconsciously. However, imagine how impactful this paradigm could be if we were more conscious of it at work in our lives. I would encourage you to think about something you were told was “in the way” as part of your life? Has it “become the way” for you and your greatest asset? If so, how? For me — of the first things in my life that were in the way was that I talked too much in class. Looking back, I’d have to say it worked out pretty well. 

“Can't do” or “Won’t do”

Helping others depends on either a “Can’t do” or “Won’t do” answer

Whatever the issues are that are holding someone back, focus on a constructive approach. If you ask them, “How can we help you?”, their answer will always be either a “can’t do” or “won’t do” answer. The person will either explain why they are having difficulty with the situation because they don’t know how to address it effectively, or they will give an answer that illustrates that they don’t really want to do this for some reason or another.

How to handle a “Can’t do” answer

Once there was a printer that was dead last on P.A.L.M.S. report in a local BNI group. We did not tell him that he was dead last. Instead, we asked him, “How can we help you?” His response was that his print shop was new and he admitted that he did not understand networking. This is a classic “Cant’ Do” response. It is our job to teach them because we were all a “can’t do” when we first started networking. We all make tons of mistakes. When someone says they can’t do something, they are open to being coached. It is our job to teach them.  If we were just negative and told the printer he was dead last, he would have quit. Instead, if we pour into them and help them, they become champions in BNI.

Where the clients come into the lobby area of the print shop, we recommended that he put up a sign where everyone could see it with slots for the BNI members’ business cards. He was instructed to get 20 copies of everyone business cards to fill sign with only the cards from BNI members. When someone took a card, they were told to say that Bob’s printing referred you. If someone not in BNI wanted to give him their cards for the sign, the printer was instructed to invite them to the next BNI meeting instead. True story! Nobody just took a card and left. They asked Bob his opinion on each of these. He gave a testimonial with everyone he had cards for. He went from last to number one in giving the most referrals. He went from being embarrassed to the top referral giver within 6 months. He was the winner of the year. He now loves BNI. We changed his business by coaching him.

How to handle a “Won’t do” answer

In this example, they give excuses: it’s too difficult… they are busy…I’m different. With a clear-cut “won’t do” answer, if you open the door for them they will leave on their own. I recommend saying, “I understand your frustration, it is ok to leave the group, feel free to come back if things change”. However, if you kick them out, they will become defiant and negative towards BNI. They blame the chapter and claim it is everyone fault. Therefore, if they don’t save face, they will fight you all the way. On the other hand, they don’t hate you if you give them the option to leave in a positive manner.

Here’s a suggestion. On rare, rare occasions – when someone is a “won’t do” but they don’t want to leave.  Tell them you appreciate their involvement and that you’ll throw them a “retirement party”. OK, not a real party – but recognize their past participation in the group and thank them for their involvement. This should be done rarely but it allows them to save face and leave. With this advice, you can cut down the percentage that will require a tough conversation by 90%. Then, only 10% of the time you need to have the tough talk about opening their classification and not renewing their membership. You want to be invested in their success, yet cut them loose when needed.

Being a member of the group is not enough.  If you are not contributing then why are you there? Being complacent is what I call a “MINO” (Member In Name Only). How can we help you to get more engaged? How can we help you to… bring more members? …bring more visitors? …bring more referrals? Whatever the issues are, just ask, “How can we help?” Their answer will tell you if you can help them.

Ask Ivan

Ask Ivan – Managing Your Contacts

Ask Ivan video

The first video in our new series of Ask Ivan videos answers a question submitted by Rob Youngblood.

Rob Youngblood, of Elite BNI in Richmond, VA, asks: “When you started BNI in 1985, what tools did you use to keep track of your contacts and how do you manage your network today?”

When I started BNI in 1985, I used a Roledex to manage business cards. Today, I recommend software to manage your contacts. Use the system that works for you.

Please watch my answer in this video

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