Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So You're Successful - Now What?

I am amazed and staggered with the number of life coaches that promise success.  The most extreme statistic in England suggests that in the worst case scenario there is potentially one life coach for every person seeking a life coach - a one to one ratio of teacher and student.

With so many life coaches promising success and unlimited financial abundance, I can only assume that many of us are operating at the peak of our potential and are ready to engage in something more profound in our lives.

After all, unlimited houses, cars, jewelry, sailboats and vacations must get terribly boring.  Excuse me but ... do you have any Grey Poupon?

I wonder how long it will take for us to discover that life is more than a collection of "stuff".  After we have compiled a phenomenal collection of baubles, how many of us are left wondering "Is this it?  Is this what my life is all about?"

If the amount of stuff we amass is the measure of our existence, then I feel very sad for us collectively.  Many of us secretly admit that there remains an emptiness to be filled despite our abundance and despite our public message to others that we are at the peak of happiness.

I can also assume with so many empowered people running around that there are no longer issues with poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease and other challenges.

If only it were so.

So we set about embracing this cause or that one.  We embark on a mission to accomplish some great purpose or to leave a great legacy.  Many of us ignore the fact that there are other people who have the same purpose or objective.  "I am smarter than they are", we reason.  "I have more money, more connections, etc.  They don't know what they are doing but I do and can be successful where others fail.  I have greater insight than the other person. I have a greater sense of urgency than they do. They just want to steal my ideas for their own glory.   or ....   _____insert your own reason why you can't collaborate______."

Ah - the beauty of ego .... and the crippling result of "one-man- band syndrome".

Step 1 to leaving a great legacy is:

                          We need to get over ourselves

Individually, we aren't as smart, connected, powerful or anything else as we think we are.  If any of us believe otherwise, we are headed for some incredible disappointments.

However, we all bring incredible gifts to the table.  These gifts are amplified when combined with the gifts of others.  The combination of gifts, the old adage that 1+1 can equal 5, is a powerful concept that we seem to not take advantage of although we sure love to quote it.

"Collaboration is the only way I operate", we say and then we go on to do our own thing because we feel that the other person can't contribute to our great vision and would only hold us back or we don't trust other people, fearing that they might somehow steal our thunder.

Self-promotion seems to be the way of the 21st century.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at Twitter, LinkedIn or other powerful social media - 75% of people out there exist to share their secrets to success with you - at a cost.

What wasted opportunity.

Competition does indeed spark innovation in the right circumstances.  However, oftentimes it diminishes our result because of redundancy, unnecessary competitive undermining or failure to share information - all based on our fear that someone else might actually do something useful with the information (maybe even creating a better result than we could have).  "How dreadful that would be", cries our ego.

Some years ago when I was working on some goal setting projects in New York, I attempted to engage with a leading mentor organization to see if they would partner with me.  Their response was "no".  When I asked why, the response was "Don't you realize that if you are successful then we will be out of business?"  I responded "Isn't that the point - to be able to have a society where someday we don't have a need for such programs".  I was told that that was a magnanimous intention but they had an obligation to their employees first and the people they served second.

Very sad.  Maybe they should be totally transparent and change the mission statement on their website to read "We are focused on providing a good environment for our employees.  After they have been rewarded, any money left over goes to our programs for inner city kids".  I wonder where donations would go with such a message.

What would happen if we turned the volume of our ego down just a shade, turned the volume of our humility up just a tad and then sought out ways in which our respective purposes and objectives were so alike that we simply had to collaborate to produce the result we sought.

After all, what is more important - the result or the recognition?  If I had a choice, I would choose an amplified result and shared or no recognition over minimal result and all the glory.

How about you?  When you think of the life legacy projects that are important to you, what is most important - a phenomenal result or phenomenal recognition.  If the latter, I wish you luck - it's a lonely world out there when you go it alone.

If the former, I invite you to think about your ideal life objectives and desired result of your legacy.  Think about the strengths you bring to the table.  Think honestly about the strengths you don't have but which you need to maximize your result.  Find people with a similar purpose and with the strengths that you do not posses.  Focus on a maximized result instead of focusing on why no one else can help you get the job done.  Focusing on collaborative strengths is far more empowering and productive than focusing on the weaknesses of others (the latter process often highlighting your own weaknesses).

If you are a part of an organization that serves the needs of humanity in some way, look for ways that your organization can collaborate with others to enrich and amplify the result and the sense of fulfillment amongst the organization's team members.

You may run into a lot of resistance since many people will feel threatened that collaborating will somehow reduce the result or their ability to be recognized.  Overcoming this resistance won't be easy for you to accomplish but you will discover that it is worth the effort.

But then again, anything worthwhile in life isn't supposed to be easy, is it?

I'm not suggesting that every individual or organization is focused on themselves.  In fact, there are phenomenal people and organizations who are incredible models of unselfish collaboration as they move unwaveringly towards their objectives.

Let's find these people and organizations and use them as a standard by which we can judge our own intentions and results.

Only after that can we really claim to have done our best for others.  Prior to that, we will have done our best for ourselves and our egos with some residual positive impact on others.

The challenges of the 21st century need collaboration and maximized result stemming from that collaboration. 

What is more important to you - the reward or the result?

Yours in service and servanthood.


1 comment:

  1. Recommended reading from my network associate, Malcolm L - http://www.wikinomics.com/book.


    Thanks, Malcolm!