As you run and hurry from one activity to the other, putting out fires at every turn—have you ever stopped for a moment to consider the possibilities? What possibilities you ask? Is this the life you thought you’d be living? Is this the business you thought you’d be running? Are you working so hard that life is passing you by? Is there another, more effective work paradigm?
Have you recently asked yourself a question something like, “Why am I putting myself through this, really?” If you have, you are doubtlessly being more honest that those who say they have not. The good news is that you are not alone. At the seminars I give, scores of business leaders have privately shared their similar feelings with me.
What’s the answer? I don’t believe there is only one answer but several possibilities from which each person may select. What does this mean to you? It means that on any given day, there are forks in the road and you decide on your preferred road. Unfortunately, most people select what appears to be the easiest road. Then, hidden around the bend, is an incredible mountain to climb one that often appears overwhelming and hopeless. Too often you feel smothered from all the stuff that either you have loaded on your plate or allowed others to heap onto it. Sometimes you just want to get off the carousel of business, or life, and crawl under a rock. Don’t you?
Lonely at the Top
While the view is magnificent, it is also very lonely at the top. Success is sweeter when you have someone with which to share it. Warren Bennis, in his book, Leaders-The Strategies for Taking Charge identified through a number of interviews an important trait among most successful leaders. It was the ability to stay in their marriage-long term. This trait is so crucial because it demonstrates a leader’s ability to work with others, see and honor another person’s point of view and be flexible when things don’t turn out as intended—which is almost all the time.
In my books on partnering and strategic alliances, I continually talk about synergistic possibilities. This is the basic idea of taking one plus one and getting three or more rather than the expected two. In my own life, I catch myself at times simply doing something myself, rather than teaching another how to do the task, thinking it is easier and quicker. In the long run though, that belief eventually proves that I’m taking the wrong path. Working with, and teaching others, takes understanding and patience—unfortunately, too few leaders exhibit these virtues.
As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, my recommended paradigm or solution to your challenges is partnering—in one form or another. To shrink your daily load, you will want to look at both external and internal partnering alliance possibilities. First, look at the inside possibilities. Can you build stronger alliances with your employees? If you can achieve this, the result will be their accelerated sense of emotional ownership in the success of your business. What a great partnering benefit!
External alliance relationships include those with your competitors, suppliers, customers and other organizations that can assist in the strengthening of your core weakness areas. This will allow you the time to develop your more profitable core strength areas. Just think about the possibilities available to you if you have strong relationships with the external groups mentioned. Better buying possibilities with your suppliers, increased loyalty among your customer and collaborative possibilities with competitors for marketing, research, delivery and production.
Contrary to what you might have perceived, partnering is not for everybody. Some people just cannot let go. They have a desperate need for control. They cannot see the opportunities available to them. If you are one of those people, you are sentenced to going it alone with an overflowing plate of activities that are better suited for others. You will scrape and struggle, jumping from one crisis to the other. You’ll continually complain about the behavior of others and get more and more frustrated until you end up in the hospital with one some life threatening condition.
For you that are willing to do the front-end work and build alliance relationships, the world is your oyster. Everywhere you look, you will see partnering possibilities. Your challenge is to select your partners well and to first focus on what matters to you and your business the most. Slowly, you will find your plate less loaded with things that others could easily do. You will find time to explore business and personal opportunities rather than spending your precious time just fighting fires. Now is the time to select your path.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.