MLM Success Stories Always Go Through 4 Mysterious Stages

MLM success stories are looked at as heroes. Are they really? Or are they just following on the same path you are? What if you knew you are one stage away from total success? From reaching all of your dreams, living the lifestyle and having all the money to do the things that are important in your life?

Last year I learned a valuable lesson in my network marketing career as I learned to surf behind a boat. But before I tell you about my experience, let me tell you where I got my understanding of the learning process. It comes from the “ Conscious Competence ” learning model.

It is not clear who originated the very first ‘conscious competence’ learning model. Various modern authors are named, but sources as old as Confucius and Socrates are cited as possible earliest originators. But the model clearly explains the 4 stages you go through in your business. Not understanding these stages is the fundamental reason for the failure of a lot of training and teaching in the network marketing industry.

Now back to my surfing experience…

Each summer I would go on the lake and watch people surf and do wakeboarding. It looked so easy. I was at the ‘Unconsciously Incompetent ‘ stage (this is the fantasy stage – ‘Oh, I can do this, I’ve done snowboarding, surfing doesn’t look too hard’).

Next thing you know, my brother calls me and says “Stephane, come over I just bought a surf, let’s go try it.” That second stage is called ‘Consciously Incompetent ,’ (This is the reality stage: ‘Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into – this is so much harder than I thought.’).

If you are a visual, watch this short video below, you’ll have a good laugh… or pitty for me 🙁


I realized I was in the third stage when I was able to get off the water, go from one side of the wave to the other without too much effort. This is the ‘Consciously Competent ‘ stage (The competence stage: ‘I know what to do, and I am concentrating very hard to use the techniques I know I need to be successful’).

At the end of the summer, we hired a guy named Tim to do a corporate video for our rental business to promote surfing and wakeboarding as an activity we propose at our nautical center. When he got on the board, I immediately realized what it was like to be ‘ Unconsciously Competent ‘(This is the mastery stage: ‘I don’t have to be consciously operating all the time – some of the techniques I have acquired are now part of me, some of my skills are automatic – I can save my conscious energy for the ones I’m still working on developing.’)

Each person getting involved in network marketing will grow through the same four distinct stages in their career. By the time they reach the 4th stage they are leaders with their company and are top income earners. They seem to have a natural talent, a peace of mind and a total sense of control over their destiny.

If they do not grow all the way to the 4th stage they will usually leave the business. They are the ones who say , “Network Marketing Doesn’t Work…”. This is because they tried and failed. They either failed at recruiting people or they recruited a lot of people but none of them actually worked the business. They believe the reason is that none of them were really serious.

Which stage are you currently at?

When a person is in the first stage Unconsciously Incompetent’ , They are not aware that they have a particular deficiency in the area of building their business. The excitement level is high. They’re on fire! At this level, people think like the following:

  • Everyone should want to do this!
  • This is going to be easy; all I have to do is tell a few people about it.
  • Anyone can do this.
  • If I do half of what they say, I’m going to be rich in 6 months.
  • If I could get Uncle Tom into this, he will make me rich…

People operating at the Unconsciously Incompetent level are usually driven by excitement. They recruit because their excitement is contagious. The new recruits don’t join for their own reasons but because they fear they’re going to miss something if they don’t. They have not connected their reasons why they would want to do it with the business as the solution to their individual goals. This sets them up to lose interest in the business just as quickly as they got excited.

Within a few weeks, new distributors start to realize that “telling a few people about it” is not the answer. It’s not telling people it’s developing the skills that allow you to select and develop people. At this point, they have reached Consciously Incompetent . Unfortunately, you will see the largest number of people quit at this stage. They realize they’re going to have to work. The person realizes that by improving their skills or abilities, their effectiveness will improve. They must learn how to find their prospect’s reasons why they would be interested before they actually invite them to review information. Otherwise they’re just bugging people with something they never showed an interest for in the first place. They must become someone who is able to learn, implement and then train others. They begin to realize their lack of success could depend on them and they start having thoughts like the following:

  • Maybe I don’t have what it takes. I really have to learn how to do this business.
  • Why did Uncle Tom join and do nothing, was he really interested?
  • How comes top leaders find all those good people while I can’t?
  • I don’t have much to show for my efforts so far.
  • Why is everyone I recruited not doing anything?
  • I can’t see the end of the tunnel. How am I supposed to retire if I always have to work at it?
  • Maybe this isn’t for me…

Those who make it through Consciously Incompetent will eventually get to Consciously Competent . At this point they have learned from someone who trained them on the real skills necessary to build a successful business. They followed the saying “Your business will only grow as fast as you grow.” They learned that communication is the fundamental skill one needs to develop. They have worked on themselves more than anything else. They practiced what to say and how to say it. They realized that everything worth pursuing requires time to become effective. They understand that whatever they do, it will require effort, and if they’re going to work hard anyway, why not work hard at something that will reward them tremendously. For this reason, they developed the perseverance necessary to move forward.

At this level, recruiting is more like a “game”. They developed good habits that produce results. This is a time when they get their first recognition from the company and start to gain confidence in their prospecting and recruiting abilities. They learn to work the numbers and with the proper skills, the job is easy.

The person will not reliably perform the skill unless thinking about it – the skill is not yet ‘second nature’ or ‘automatic’

However, it isn’t long (about a year) before extreme frustration sets in and begins to drive them to the next level. They start having thoughts like:

  • I’m tired of wasting my time recruiting people who don’t do what I do.
  • If I had known that Uncle Tom wasn’t going to do anything, I would not have wasted my precious time and energy working with him.
  • Recruiting is no longer hard for me, it’s like a “game”, but now it’s boring to do the same thing over and over.
  • Even if I’m good at recruiting, my real problem is to get other people to do it too.
  • I’m able to demonstrate the skill to another, but I find it hard to teach it well to another person

They develop an awareness that drives them to Unconsciously Competent . At this level distributors have an entirely different view of prospecting and recruiting.

Their skills become so practiced that they enter the unconscious parts of the brain – it becomes ‘second nature’

Common examples are driving, sports activities, typing, manual dexterity tasks, listening and communicating. It becomes possible for certain skills to be performed while doing something else, for example, talking on the phone while driving.

Distributors operating at this level are now considered to be professional network marketers. They have something very unique in how they conduct their business. They have charisma. For some reason, everyone they recruit comes in and goes to work . Now, the predominant attitude and thoughts are something like:

  • I will not waste any of my time “chasing” people . I will “attract” serious people to me.
  • I enjoy qualifying people before showing them anything.
  • My prospect must show me they are the kind of person I want to invest my time with.
  • I truly enjoy helping people escape the limiting situations they are in and giving them the options to create a better future.
  • Watching people achieve the rewards they deserve after properly training them is such a great feeling of accomplishment.

This is the pinnacle of success in network marketing. If you carefully evaluate the top money earners with any company, you will usually see these traits of character and competence.

Some people are really good at network marketing from the beginning – you feel they are wired for that business. But the reality is they developed their skills elsewhere before coming here. U nfortunately, several of them are so instinctual at their skills that they don’t understand the theory – because they don’t need it – and as such sometimes have more difficulty understanding why others can’t get the same results they get.

Great leaders will be able to look at their unconscious competence from the outside, digging to find and understand the skills, abilities and beliefs that, based on looking at what they do, inform what they do and how they do it. That’s the kind of leader I was so grateful of having as a sponsor.

The conscious competence model explains the process and stages of learning a new skill (for building a successful Network Marketing business or anything else). Once you understand the process of how we learn, you can build your business with peace of mind knowing which stage you’re at and what’s coming up next.

Most people who say ‘no’ to network marketing usually analyze it from the “Consciously Incompetent” level. They think they can’t do it.

But when you look at what they currently do for a living, you realize they were at that same level when they got started. So, someone should not decide on the profession they will do for the rest of their lives based on their competence level in that field but more at what getting in the “Unconsciously Incompetent” level in that field will provide them. If what they get is not in alignment with what they truly want out of life, they should look elsewhere.

Because, in network marketing or in any other career, practice will always lead them to the final stage “Mastery”. If mastering being a truck driver, a secretary, a dentist, a realtor, a carpet cleaner allows you to live your life the way you want, then do it. But if it doesn’t, don’t waste any more time, because time flies and you risk to loose the most important years of your life.

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To your success,

Stephane Page

45 thoughts on “MLM Success Stories Always Go Through 4 Mysterious Stages”

  1. hey my friend, i was just perusing the net looking for some reliable information and I happened across your website. Im thoroughly awed by the information you have written on your blog. I see how well you understand this topic. I saved your site to my favorite sites, and will be coming back often. Cheers.

  2. What a great blog. Im truly a fan of your writing as well as your writing style. Dont stop writing. Keep up the good work.

  3. Excellent article, will probably be beneficial to see how this develops. Will bookmark your webpage to stay up to date. Kind regards.

  4. Interesting. Very Interesting. This is a vital topic for prospective Networkers. One key element is, How much do they want to be a leader in a Networking Set Up?

  5. Stephane, Thanks for this post. I really needed it. I’m at the Consciously Incompetent stage. So, much need of growth but working slowly at it. I see tiny changes happening but seriously, a long way to go. I must remember the Little Train That Could. Be well and thanks again. Mike G.

    1. Mike, that is the phase where reality hits you in the face. Keep going and focus on small steps. Most people want the big goal quick. That’s how they get discouraged.

      Focus on small goals and accomplish them. That will give you the reward you need to pursue the bigger goal.

      Find someone who achieved what you want and ask them for a plan of action step-by-step. Once things are clear, it gives you confidence in taking action.

  6. Stephane, I just read a few of your articles. They are very encouraging. I’m at the Consciously Incompetent stage. I love the MLM company I’m with. I have my own success story with the products to share with others. I’m a confident person, but yet, I apparently don’t have the magic words or a reliable system for getting people to join. I am sister to one of the top income earners in the company and her good friend is also one of the top income earners. I have reached out to them both for help and mentoring, but both are too busy for me and have failed to provide the help that I need. So I feel like I am left on my own to succeed. I am a great student, so I am confident I will find some guidance and knowledge to create the leader in me I know is there. You shared a lot of excellent points and I’m so glad I found your site!! I will extract as much knowledge as I can from your site. Thank you!!

    1. Jamie, focus on learning how to “Invite” prospects. Once you master this, the rest is a piece of cake. My friend Tim Sales has great trainings on Inviting. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, let me know and I’ll give you a few pointers. You won’t need your sister to be successful. She may actually reach out to you to train her people once you master this. 😉

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