I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site. Robert is also the author of “Retention Point“, which I highly recommend. He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience”, “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” and “Creating Case Studies” on my blog. Today, he is sharing a networking secret. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.
There’s an ultimate test of physical endurance and mental fortitude: a six-day, 153.2 mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara desert called the Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sand). Competitors carry their own supplies as they compete in temperatures exceeding 120 degrees. The longest one-day distance covers 50.6 miles and includes 14.3 miles of sand dunes.
Four-time champion Mohamad Ahansal grew up in the Sahara. And in a place where most just try to survive, the skills Mohamad learned helped him become a winner in one of the most grueling footraces in the world. Since 1997, either Mohamad or his older brother, Lahcen, had won the race, until the 2014 year, when Rachid el Morabity, their trainee, beat Mohamad by seven minutes. Morabity has won the race each year since.
Morabity attributes his winning time to using a unique zigzag method to climb the large sand dunes that make up many miles of the race.
“Other runners, they go directly up the hill,” Morabity says. “They don’t notice the secret.”
Even though it’s easy enough to see the secret, instead of emulating the champion, competitors innovate their own improvements and try to barrel directly up the hill. Their intuition tells them that a straight line is the shortest distance and the shortest distance is always the quickest. Instead of learning from the proven results of the winner, they follow their less experienced intuition.
I used to think the same way. I’d learn a technique or a strategy from a mentor, and then I’d put my own spin on it. I’d say to myself “That may have worked for him, but I’m going to improve it and make it work even better for myself.”
It took me years to figure out my mentor’s technique was already improved. I was learning from the champion. There was no need for me to create my own innovations. Instead, I needed to get better at emulating what had already been proven to work.
I see people (who should know better) make this same mistake all the time. Instead of simply emulating what works, they try to make improvements. Or worse yet, they ignore the aspects that work and imitate the insignificant details.
They see, but they do not learn.
Within BNI, we have Ivan Misner, Ph.D. to learn from and emulate. He’s been networking, teaching networking and thinking about networking for more than 35 years. And yet, what do some new chapter officers do, make their own “improvements” to the system.
On its surface, following the system may appear difficult. It may seem like a harder way.
However, it’s similar to the Marathon des Sables champion’s “shortcut” of zigzagging back and forth while climbing sandy dues for miles. At first glance, the zigzagging appears to add more distance. Why would you want to add steps when you are already running 50 miles through a desert?
It’s because when you are running 50 miles through a desert, adding a few feet through slogging sand in an uphill climb saves you a lot of energy. That saved energy helps you endure longer and reach the finish line more quickly.
Too many people add features, change scripts or create innovations that reduce their own performance. What’s worse, they are also impacting the performance of every member of their chapter.
Instead, focus on following the system.
If you want to make changes, be clear about the goal you are trying to accomplish. Become a scientist by first setting a hypothesis, “I believe making a change to ____ will increase referrals passed.”
If you can increase the number of referrals passed, Dr. Misner is eager to learn how you did it.
Dr. Misner approaches BNI as an engineer. If you can build a better, cheaper bridge in a shorter period of time, every engineer wants to know about that. Same with Dr. Misner and BNI, if you innovate a way to increase referrals within a chapter, then we all want to know about it.
But, making changes because you have a preference or belief isn’t good enough. There are too many smart business people who are depending on the performance of your chapter to take any chances.
Follow the secret, hidden in plain sight. Then test innovations to determine their impact on your chapter.