There is something to be said for being the smartest or the most talented one in the room… too bad it doesn’t help much in reality. Success, by any definition, is a team sport. I learned this little detail the hard way.
There was a time in my life that I thought that if I wanted to make anything out of myself, I’d be responsible for all of it by myself. I thought I could do everything primarily because I thought I should do everything. I needed to know how to be the boss, the accountant, the creative director, the marketing manager, the human resources director, set the strategy and do the work with my clients.
Even if I hired or worked with others, I wanted to have the final say on everything. This was a brilliant strategy until three things happened.
1. I learned I wasn’t good at everything.
2. I didn’t have the energy to do everything.
3. I failed.
The human animal is a social animal and our survival and success depend on our ability to find communities of people who share our values and beliefs. When these communities form, trust emerges. It is then that the human animal will adapt from a survival instinct by self-preservation to one of working for the good of the community.
Both are designed to help the individual survive, but it is the community that has the greater chance of not only survival, but success. The book Wisdom of Crowds delves into this. Groups of people make more accurate decisions than individuals, for example. In other words, asking for help is scientifically proven to enhance the quality of the decisions we make.
Once I hit a point where I had no choice but to ask for help, things started to dramatically change. For one, I let go of the belief that I should do everything which meant I finally accepted that there was no way I could do everything. The more honest I was to myself and out loud about my strengths and my weaknesses, the more people showed up to help do the things I was not good at.
There is not a single thing I’m doing these days that is not as a direct result of someone helping me. Some showed up to do specific tasks that I’m no good at – like accounting. Some take specific responsibility for things that I don’t excel at – like developing systems. But the vast majority of the help that I’ve been given comes from people who have introduced me to someone they think could benefit from my message and from whom I could benefit from their platform.
In other words, mutually beneficial introductions. Introductions that are good for the community. The more willing I am to ask for help, the more I am able to help others. I’ve transformed from working for myself to working for others which, ironically, has helped me grow as an individual more than I ever imagined.
Offer your strengths to others and you’ll be amazed how many people offer their strengths to you.
This article is also available in Chinese.
To watch a video on “How to Lead” with Simon Sinek, click below: