You’re Not Alone (at least you shouldn’t be)

There have been some really good, empathetic and helpful reactions to this blog series so far. So much so that I wanted to pick up on a few threads with a special post on that feedback.
The post on resilience really struck a chord and some insightful comments really got me thinking… I also read THIS VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE which made me think hard about this “continue at all costs” doctrine that is so often bandied about. In particular the quote,
“Why rise from the ashes without asking why you had to burn?”

So much gung-ho, can-do and practical advice seems to leave out a very important part of any reaction to failure or setbacks of all kinds: Introspection.

alone on the tracks

Author and consultant Richard Hawkey  reacted with this comment, ”Also like to add that resilience starts with the self: self-awareness (objective rather than absorbed) and self-efficacy (belief that you can do it).”

All too often when we are being resilient, we are looking outwards to circumstances, other players, faulty plans, and not to ourselves, our assumptions, our reaction our pre-conceptions.

Hawkey goes on to note that, “(It) …also reiterates the need to cultivate strong networks – resilience is enhanced when you can just talk to someone who gives a damn.” And this thread was echoed in a few comments… being self-employed often means being alone. It often means we deliberately isolate ourselves and insulate ourselves. And these are dangerous and self-limiting impulses.

Television and theatre entrepreneur Alex Radnitz (weblink) pitched in with, “Something I have also found in terms of being an entrepreneur is that your position as a leader for the company or project doesn’t mean that you have to come up with (every) idea or solution.” Again, you don’t always have to do everything yourself!

He continues, “Generally you a presented with options and it will come down to your experience as to how you choose the right one. It is also very important to have a strong team as this is where your selection of options come from. The stronger the team you lead, the better they will be at making decisions on their own but ultimately as a leader you need to be able to direct everyone away from pitfalls and onto a successful path.”

And it is this idea of a team which I really began to resonate with. It is something that I all too often did not do… make sure I had capable people around me who could take up the slack in areas where I had a skills short-fall, who could talk stuff through with me, who could provide emotional support, guidance.alone in universe

British creativity and business consultant Peter Cook weighed in with, “Structural resilience is overlooked imho – entrepreneurs often tell me they like to be spontaneous and creative – horse shit – chance favours the prepared mind and a little more planning and organisation would help lots of self-employed business people.”

It all points to the same thing: entrepreneurs are too often all on their own. Either through ignorance, choice or circumstance. You need to break that cycle in order to stay sane AND to stay successful

Some basic tips:
1) Assign half a working day a week to getting out of your own working space. Go work in a coffee shop, a co-working space, a client’s office. Just get out there.

2) Join networking groups. Isolation can lead to inbreeding and you can lose your edge. Also, it’s nice to share war stories, pick up on trends and maybe find solutions and new team members.

3) Build yourself a team. I don’t just mean an accountant, a designer, a writer, a project manager. I also mean you emotional support, your friends, your idea sounding board, you reality checker… it all helps

4) Your peers and friends most often will agree with you on most things. Social media in particular is so awful with confirmation bias. Maintain your competitive edge by connecting with people who do not.

5) When things go wrong, remember to also ask yourself honestly how YOU contributed to the situation. And then act to remedy those things via your team/network/skills set

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