Sharks rule the oceans. I am fascinated by how they operate, especially the way many have to keep moving in order to survive. What intrigues me the most is their parallel to human relationships and business. But, before we get any deeper into that, I must share with you a little bit of context and something I do that many consider wacky.

It may seem very unusual at first, but I have not found a better method to understand more fully how people really feel about their relationship with you. This works with business and personal relationships, even with your spouse or significant other. If you suspend your disbelief for just five minutes and add in a little dash of faith, then you will be on your way to something that can drastically improve your life.

I call this the Impact Litmus Test. I have participated in this test with many people in my life on many occasions. I hope never to be rated a 10. I am very grateful for this and soon will tell you why.

The Impact Litmus Test is a simple idea. You reach out to people you connect with on a semi-regular basis. The most likely to be in this group of people are relatives, friends, clients, and partners. You ask them to rate the strength of your relationship or partnership from 1 to 10, where 10 is perfect in every way.

It is amazing for your relationship if you actually take the time out, even though it’s scary, to ask those people, “If you had to rate us 1 to 10 and be 100 percent honest, how would you rate us? How would you rate the closeness of our relationship?” Or for clients or business, ask, “How would you rate our service to you?”

Most people have this mistaken idea in their mind about where they are in their relationships. What you think and what the other person thinks of where your relationship stands are usually different. The only accurate gauge is the periodic use of this test. It is worth a little bit of awkwardness to help strengthen the bonds and increase the quality of your relationships.

I had went through this process with a very good friend and past client, David Gonzalez, founder of Internet Marketing Party. I asked him to do this with his clients so he could get an accurate view of where he stood with them. Before even agreeing to experiment with this method, David’s first response was, “Dude, my clients love me.” I said, “I get it, but I want you to email and ask them. Tell your clients to be honest. The reason you are doing this process with them is so you can improve your business and relationship with them. Tell them you will definitely act on their feedback.”

My last statement to David is the key to everything. If you do not act on the feedback you receive you will only hurt the relationship, because now all has been brought to light.

The only way to improve a relationship is by getting honest and open feedback from the other person. Most people are even scared to give a rating because they don’t like delivering bad news. Nor do they like confrontation. But tell them their honesty (even and especially about the parts of the relationship that aren’t working) is the most important part so both sides are able to get the most out of the experience. For you to give them more, you have to come together for a common goal to improve everything.

When David received feedback from some of his clients, he was surprised that he was not getting the 10s he had expected. Now, his clients love him for who he is, but there were a few things they thought they’d be getting that they weren’t. By getting this information, it allowed David to rethink his process and deliver a much better client experience. He improved his relationships with his clients by administering the Impact Litmus Test and acted on the results. David and I stepped into a deeper level of coaching and figured out what we could do to make sure he was getting his clients to rate him closer to 10.

It’s like I mentioned at the start of this regarding sharks. For the most part, sharks rule the ocean at the top of the food chain. For most shark species to survive they have to keep moving. For human relationships to thrive and continue to grow, the relationship has to keep moving. If you are looking at a zero rating, then you are not moving and the relationship is dead in the water. This is the point you cut the line and move forward in life so it doesn’t drag you under as well.

If somebody tells you the relationship is at a 10, hesitate before you celebrate, as this warrants further investigation. They are not being 100 percent honest. Pose the question again and stress the importance of open honesty because there is almost always something you can improve on, even if it’s slight. No situation or person is perfect. That is what makes everything in life unique and special. The most important relationships in your life deserve the care and energy input to keep them growing and moving forward to a stronger place.

In my businesses, I have had sales reps work hard to build their pipeline and then go on a huge winning streak. Boom! All of a sudden they’re making big money. They get their $20,000 to $30,000 commission check for the month. Then they sit back and feel they can enjoy the ride. They forget it is only a ride. Sooner or later, that ride ends because they don’t refuel the vehicle.

Do you know what I’ve seen time and again in these situations, especially in our ultra competitive modern world? This mistake gives someone an opportunity to move in and outflank them, to grab that business. The next gal/guy is right behind you waiting for you to slip up or to decide to give them an opening. That person is waiting to say, “His deal makes you $10,000. I’m going to make you $10,500.” Then, in a flash, all the revenue you were going to make from that sale is gone.

If you are not continuing to grow opportunities and relationships, then your life and fulfillment withers. Relationships are the spice of life. Picking and nurturing the right ones leads to more fulfillment than anything else. You must have a strong, compelling vision for your life. You must be in good health to enjoy it. But without others to enjoy it with, life ends up feeling hollow, which is the opposite of fulfilling.


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