"If you can, I can." "If I can, you can." True or false?

I remember thinking 14 years ago, when I first saw him, maybe 28, with the tip of his shirt coming out of the front of his pants, that, “If HE can do it, I can do it.”

It was J, looking very cute and nervous as he demo’d a water filter, and flashing checks for close to $90k for that month.

And of course, he told the entire audience that he was (just a lowly) waiter before, and if a waiter could do it, well, then certainly I, a Harvard grad could, couldn’t I?

So yes, the challenge got to me. But I never made as much as he did. I made a lot, don’t get me wrong, but not $100k/mo+ which is he what he got to and more.

No question the effort I made in that business was worth it. What I learned I use almost daily. I have no regrets.

However, never again will I tell anyone: “If I can do it, you can do it.”

There are always unknown factors at work that are different for any two people. For example, I have a Harvard degree, which, when I speak in front of a room, causes people pause and at least give me ear. If you don’t have that edge, you won’t get those ears. You may have another edge. But I don’t know yours. So you might go much faster than I did. Or not. So just because A can, does not mean B can. Not to the same degree, or in the same time frame, or in the same way. And perhaps, not at all.

J also had some advantages I didn’t learn about until YEARS later. Like growing up in a household steeped in the network marketing business. Like a very strong and immediate motivation: his father, also a network marketer, had had a fatal heart attack after learning they wouldn’t let him come on the annual company-paid-for trip for achievers, because he was short $93 one month, of the $4,000/mo earnings required for 12 months in a row to be part of that big event. He’d done it every year for the previous 10 years.

When the company wouldn’t make things right and the father had his heart attack and died shortly after, his son, my sponsor, got about 15 of his father’s experienced networkers to come with him to his new company – in his downline. In that first month, all of them bought in at the highest level possible, giving J a check well over $20k his first month. He never looked back, and neither did many of his key people – for years they were the top of the heap.

Nothing wrong with this. Only I didn’t know his hidden edge. Same with the tuna boat fisherman. I had no idea how much network marketing background he had. All we heard was, here’s a tuna boat fisherman…and if he can do it, and can’t even figure out how his check got so big, you can too.

This is another one of those “half truths” I discussed in a previous post.

I mean, challenging others when you have an edge, know it, and don’t reveal it. In fact, to the contrary, many top leaders hide it and show the least advantageous side of themselves – “a former waiter” or a “former tuna boat fisherman” or “a former housecleaner” etc. Or whatever. Somethng in any event that conceals the true experience, or edge, of the person we hold up as “If SHE can do it, you can.”

And even if there is no such background, timing and luck also plays a part. One guy I was friends with had a fender-bender with a woman who ended up being a star in his business. He’d been in for years, running ads regularly, and so the find was well deserved. But he always told people how he got his star, and people felt much better thinking if they just stayed with it, maybe someone good would bump into them, too, somehow, someday, somewhere.

There are very few big stars out there. Most big successes have a special set of circumstances, timing, and luck attached. AND of course, staying power, mental or otherwise.

Do you agree that we should stop using the “if I can you can” or “if she can you can” challenge? I mean it’s a promise we can’t keep, isn’t it? What it seems to do to most people is cause a loss of self-esteem when success doesn’t happen to them right away, and they go away thinking it’s THEM. Wrong.

If she can do it, does not mean that I can, nor that I will. Too many circumstances, experiences and priorities that are different for the two of us. To say nothing of how big that “want to” really is.

“If I can you can.” True or false?

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About the author

Kim Klaver


  • Flase, I agree. The want to as you said is huge.

    Also, so many times I heard the half truths about how much how fast, and no one told me they had been working in the industry for 20 years and brought over downline,

    I felt there was something wrong with me. I tell the truth to new ones.

  • False, I completly agree.

    Many times I have felt like a failure. Not having been told of the years of experience in this industry. Or of the data base of other networkers they plug into a new company.

    The true motivation to build a business, not only the Why, but the true deep seated “have to”, the pain that is driving many people to look for extra income.

    Then you will step out and take bold steps you might not have taken before. When the need, the want, is deep enough.

  • I have mixed feelings on this one.

    I came to this biz with no personal sales skills (I have a degree in advertising/PR which is NOT the same thing), had never seen a home party B4 I conducted my first, knew a total of 5 people in my area, my sponsor lived in another part of the country and I made pretty much every mistake in the book. So when I say, “If I can, you can”, I really mean it!

    What I do have that most people don’t have is extreme perserverance.

    I do agree that when I hear stories of people who blaze trails we usually aren’t getting the whole story. And there are lots of intangibles e.g. someone has great instincts, another has great *passion*, that cannot be taught. Those intangibles often make the difference.

    When I have interviewed other successful people they see themselves as “doing what comes naturally” and they honestly do not beleive that they are not doing anything special.

    I also beleive that we need to create business systems that don’t rely on those intangibles, and that can be learned successfully by the vast majority of interested people.

    Karen Hurd

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