What do we really accomplish, alone?
By Stephen Garber
In an age of “solo-prenuers” working remotely—when technology gives us the freedom to work from anywhere, at a time when we’re advised to work on “branding” oneself and to manage our own career paths, often over the good of the team—it’s easy to believe we can get it all done, alone. Or at least we should be able to.
Seriously, what do you accomplish by yourself? Very little, indeed. Tasks, perhaps. Study, maybe. But any meaningful accomplishment clearly is easier, better and faster when you have more than your own mind and effort to achieve the desired result.
The old saying goes, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” It’s usually attributed to an unknown author. I think it’s one of those universal truths.
When we pose this to individual or groups of executives, there is often pushback. I recognize the thinking, as I was brought up with it: “If you want to get something done, do it yourself. And, if it’s worth doing, do it well.” It can be frustrating to have to wait on others, to see poorer work product, and to see your ideas watered down or even rejected.
People push back on the idea of needing a team. Sometimes, they use tennis, swimming, skiing and, frequently, golf as circumstances where participants go it alone. But look at the professionals’ entourages and you will soon see their families, coaches, managers, trainers, agents, dieticians, personal assistants, etc. They’re not alone. They are the leader—and the product—of their teams.
When we work with teams, we often find egos driving the conversation. People usually have agendas, often hidden, and the magical silos appear out of nowhere. Teaming up can be painful, time-consuming, emotional, petty and childish, and it does not need to be that way.
In today’s world, it doesn’t matter how well you work. It matters how well you work together. No matter which industry you are in, you’re likely to rely on others for a large part of your success.
Each of us has strengths and weaknesses, talents and skills. We have our biases, conscious and unconscious, to accompany our emotions, moods and attitudes. We’re human. Being willing to ask for help, valuing that help, and being willing to be wrong about working alone—and happy about working with others—all seem to be the keys to true happiness, growth and business success.
It isn’t easy, but doing so brings results that are much larger than ourselves. It takes patience and emotional-quotient skills. And it just might be purposeful and richly rewarding—creating well together, at home, at work and in the community. ♦
Stephen Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.