“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
― Chinese Proverb
Givers Gain® is BNI’s principal core value and central guiding philosophy. According to Dr Ivan Misner, Founder of BNI, he knew from day one that the only way BNI could be different as a networking organisation, is if it had a genuine focus on giving first and getting second.
It goes by many phrases: ‘you get what you give’, ‘you reap what you sow’, what goes around, comes around’, and it is a great philosophy to live your life by, not just to apply to your membership with BNI.
In 2010, Greater Good Magazine wrote that the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to others, “it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a ‘warm glow’ effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing a positive feeling known as the helper’s high”.
We’ve all had people who are in “our story”. They are the people we talk about who have changed our lives in some way. However, there is something even more important: The real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? This is what creates a meaningful life. It’s about being a role model for the people around you.
Let’s give and in the process we will gain.
‘Showing up builds trust.
Trust builds relationships.
Relationships build you business.’
Really getting to know referral sources and their businesses, identifying ways that can help them hit their goals (refer to core value number 1), and sharing elements about your business are all ways of building trust in business relationships.
Developing these types of relationships takes a time commitment. Some relationships may flourish sooner than others, but the harvest will surely come for the person who diligently keeps sowing into their efforts with these relationships.
A deep referral relationship requires a surprising level of personal knowledge and connection. It takes time and effort to build this kind of relationship. Here are a couple of great guidelines to help you build such a relationship or gauge how authentic it is:
- What is the person’s background and experience?
- What is their philosophy of customer service?
- Do you understand at least 3 major products or services from that person’s business?
- Do you know the names of their family members?
- Have you asked them how you can help them grow their business?
- Have you asked them for ideas about how to grow your business?
- Do you know at least a handful of their goals for the next year and beyond?
- Could you call them at 10:00 PM if you really needed something?
- Would you feel awkward asking them for help with either a personal or business challenge?
- Do you enjoy spending time with the person? See Dr. Misner’s article “Who’s in Your Room.”
- Do you have regular appointments with the person outside of BNI meetings?
- Is this person top of mind for you?
- Can you have open, honest talks about how you can help each other further?
‘Anyone who stops learning is old,
Whether at twenty or eighty.
Anyone who keeps learning stays young.’
- Henry Ford
I don’t know about you, but I’d like to stay young for as long as possible. This is definitely a BNI core value that was already very much part of my DNA before joining. It is an essential part of my business as a website developer to stay ahead of the curve at all times.
My passion statement for Pathfind Media in fact eludes to this:
‘I am passionate about progress
and progress is impossible without change.
So we change things all the time.
For us, innovation is like inflation - it is inevitable.’
- Jo Wagner
Neither progress, nor innovation is possible without the passion to be a lifelong student.
BNI believes in the continuous improvement of personal and professional skills. BNI provides a variety of opportunities to support lifelong learning.
Professionally, I can say that I have gained new or improved existing skills because of BNI.
On a personal level, BNI has definitely taught me how to propel my public speaking and time management skills to the next level.
Traditions and Innovation
These two values do not sound like they belong together, do they? But both are equally important.
Traditions tell you who you are as an organisation and stem from the playing out of your core values. They help to make a company what it is and also shows the world, about who you are as an organisation.
One way to maintain and develop an organisational culture and ethos is to introduce and celebrate a variety of traditions. Disney has been a master at this concept by training all new employees on the traditions of the organisation. This is something that BNI does as well. Strong traditions that are applied throughout an organisation are one of the best ways to maintain a healthy organisational culture.
- The effective use of visitor hosts to make visitors feel welcome when they come to BNI
- Having a structured and organised meeting based on a system that we apply every week
- Welcoming new members to the organisation
- Recognising members who bring in referrals and visitors- recognition is very important
- Having fun! – it’s important to keep the FUN in fundamentals
However, the BNI meeting that exists today is a lot different than the one that existed when Ivan Misner started BNI in 1985. Over the years, BNI has innovated and added things into our systems that are now part of our traditions but were innovations at the time.
The Visitor Host is a good example of this. This concept was added later when we realised visitors didn’t know what to do once they showed up. So too did the Education Coordinator and referral reality check only come in later. All of these were first ideas that started as approved innovations.
A Positive Attitude
‘Your attitude determines your altitude.’
I’d like to illustrate this core value by reciting the following story:
There lived a wealthy king with a reputation for getting on people’s nerves.
One day, he placed a boulder in the middle of the road. He knew it was going to get in people’s way. But he ordered his servants to place it there on purpose anyway.
The first group of people who bumped into it reacted with utter annoyance. “Doesn’t he have anything better to do with his life than annoy people?,” these people would say.
Because they thought it was an act that only called for attention, they ignored the boulder in the middle of the road. They walked around it — annoyed and never looked back.
Few more groups of people were annoyed by the king’s incessant ploy to get attention. And the rest showed apathy and continued walking their path.
Years passed without changes to people’s reactions towards the sight of a boulder in the middle of the road.
It wasn’t until a peasant, carrying loads of vegetables, stopped to notice this boulder. Rather than walk past it, he tried to move it to the side of the road. His agenda was to place it at a location that wouldn’t get in people’s way.
Because it was a heavy boulder, it took him a while to move it. It also took lots of his energy that he had to sit down and rest before continuing his journey. But as he was resting, his eye noticed something shiny. It was under the boulder’s original location.
He was curious. And so he went near it. He then discovered it was a purse made of gold. When he opened it, he found a note from the king:
Congratulations! Go to my kingdom and present this note. A pot of gold, your reward, is waiting for you.
The lesson the king wanted to impart is that not all roadblocks are useless. If a person invests time and effort into overcoming them, it won’t be long that they’ll notice these roadblocks can also be a blessing in disguise.
Something else that is noteworthy in this story for me is that the previous passersby probably had the exact same physical ability to move the rock, but the peasant was different in that he chose to put his efforts into finding a solution instead of grumbling and complaining.
We need to take our negative thoughts captive if we are ever to learn how to maintain a positive attitude in life.
Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. - Romans 13:7
Recognition is something that we really believe in at BNI. We want to recognise people who’ve done a good job and celebrate their achievements. This starts at the chapter level. If you see something that deserves recognition, let others know including BNI Support so that they can help spread the word!
Recognition contributes in a large way to the success of our members. Remembering who makes you successful circles straight back to the Givers Gain®: once you have received due to this core value, the cycle should naturally come full circle by recognising the person that helped you to gain!
That is why we incorporate recognition in our weekly meetings with.
Accountability (in the multitude of counsellors purposes are established)
This is such an important value in the contemporary business world. A networking group without accountability is a coffee club. It’s like playing a game of football with no rules. Accountability is a key value at every level of the BNI organisation.
Quoting directly from the BNI blog
Accountability helps us build relationships, meet goals, and develop personally and professionally. When you’re on a team, you hold those around you accountable for their ends of the projects, and your company or clients often hold you accountable for providing excellent service and products.
However, too often, professionals and entrepreneurs struggle to hold themselves or those closest to them accountable. For whatever reason, you can easily hold your employees to the standard which you expect, but will sometimes find yourself letting yourself off the hook where you shouldn’t.
This is why it helps to have an accountability partner in your life to help you achieve your goals. This person can be someone who works closely with you on a project, could be a close friend who you simply share updates on a project with, or could be someone you hire, like a business coach.
When looking for someone to act as your accountability partner, look for someone who you respect, who you would never want to disappoint, and who has time to help you. Most importantly, you need to look for someone who knows you, who understands the struggles you face in getting work done.
Your accountability partner also needs to know the other priorities in your life – perhaps if you always spend Sunday unplugged with your family, your accountability partner needs to know that you won’t make any moves toward your goal on Sunday. Setting these boundaries is fine, but part of accountability is knowing that you have unplugged time coming up, and getting work out of the way in advance so you don’t shirk responsibilities.
As a major factor in your success, accountability is crucial. As one of BNI’s Core Values, we see our members hold each other accountable each week – chapter attendance, following up on referrals, and bringing visitors to chapter meetings, among others, are elements which our members know they can count on others in their chapter to help motivate and encourage them to do.