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Doing It All Yourself

Posted by David Greer in Leadership, Strategy | 0 comments


Things were tense onboard Van Kedisi. The four of us had sailed that morning from Los Christianos on the island of Tenerife. We were approaching San Sebastian on the island of La Gomera, Christopher Columbus’ launching point for sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.  All four of us onboard were working together to spot the entrance channel and the tiny opening to the harbour as we passed massive ferries on the commercial dock. On a sailboat you all have to work together because your lives depend on it. In this instance grounding out on a rock or hitting the breakwater would not likely have cost us our lives, but it would have done serious damage to Van Kedisi scuttling our well laid plans to sail across the Atlantic together.

In the rest of our lives, we depend on other people, yet as humans we often operate as if we have to do it all ourselves. Not only does it limit what we can achieve, we end up burning ourselves out. Working with other people to achieve strategic goals is a case where 1 + 1 = 3. What holds us back from reaching out and getting in help in what we want to achieve? These all have an impact:

Perceived Weakness. We believe that if we ask for help, people will think we are weak. The opposite is true. The strongest are those who learn how to build teams and lead others to create extraordinary results.

Lack of Clear Strategy. If we have no clear goals for the next quarter aligned with where we want to go, in business or in life, we default to “being busy”. At the end of the day we feel like we have accomplished something, because we have been busy in activities. Being busy is not the same as achieving goals. When everyone knows what the goal is, they are more likely to contribute and choose the right activities to help you get to those goals.

You Know Best. We think our way is the only way. When you have clear goals, collaborate with others to bring their best ideas forward to reach those goals. I have learned that others have quicker, faster, and easier ways than me to achieve our goals. Harness that diversity and creative energy by knowing that you rarely know the best way.

Accountability. If you do everything, you only have to keep yourself accountable. When you enlist the help of others, you as a leader must keep everyone else and yourself accountable. When people don’t do what they say, you have to call them on it. When things go well, this is easy. When  people are failing to deliver, whatever the reason, it can be very uncomfortable to have the critical conversions where you hold them accountable for their actions. Especially if it is you that has not delivered.

No one can do it all themselves. Learn how to reach out to get help. Set up regular and clear communication with those helping you so that you can all ensure you are staying on the same page. Create and document clear goals with measurable outcomes so that you and those helping you can see whether or not you are making progress to the strategically important things that will move your business ahead.

What is holding you back from asking for help today?

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