As an advisor, you’re an entrepreneur and that is, as we all know, a lonely business. And while most wouldn’t have it any other way, it demands extraordinary focus and self-motivation.
And because we ‘entrepreneurial types’ tend to be blessed (or cursed) with ample self-motivation, it’s easy to forget that ‘going it alone’ may not be enough. It may even have negative consequences.
You don’t have to look far to read about the dark side of entrepreneurship or of leadership in general.
- A 2016 article in Fortune put a spotlight on entrepreneurship and depression.
- In a poignant clip, Marcus Lemonis gets entrepreneurs talking about the real demons they battle every day.
And while we don’t all battle internal demons at this level, we’re often vulnerable to the idea that we can do everything ourselves. One of the secrets of those who consistently achieve big goals is that they have figured out that they are not, in fact, super human. Insert gasp here. They have discovered the power of creating a supportive team around themselves (separate from the team they pay to play the role). They create informal personal networks.
Your Personal Network
A personal network is one or more people who will support you, challenge you and hold you accountable. The people in your network provide motivation and they keep you honest. That network might include a spouse, a friend, a colleague or a mix of all of those people.
Your network isn’t a formal advisory board, but they’re there when you need them to share an idea or to give you the kick you need to keep going. The only critical characteristic that everyone in your personal network shares is that they are entirely on your side; they want you to win.
The Michelangelo Phenomenon
For many, a spouse or partner is a natural starting point for a personal network. They are, in a sense, legally obligated to be your cheerleader.
Or are they?
Before you decide who should form your network, you need to understand the Michelangelo Phenomenon. The name comes from research that shows that interdependent individuals influence and “sculpt” one another, particularly romantic partners. How you respond to one another shapes the other person over time and that impact might be positive, neutral or negative.
In action, the Michelangelo Phenomenon sounds something like this:
You get all fired up about a big opportunity at work. You’re excited, you’re resolved and a little bit proud that you’ve made the decision to make some significant changes. You get home and you can’t wait to tell your spouse about it.
Hold tight. The next few minutes are tightly tied to your success because a lot is riding on how that other person reacts. If you get something akin to “Well [sigh], that sounds like you’ll be working late then – I guess I’ll deal with the kids,” it limits your chances of success, no matter how determined you may feel. Perhaps more important, that initial reaction can stop you from taking action at a subconscious level.
But the Michelangelo Phenomenon works the other way as well—your partner’s enthusiasm will feed your own passion and make your success more likely.
The fact is this. You (and all of us) need a person or a group of people who have your back, who’ll tell you the truth and who feel invested in your success. Absent this kind of community, things are more difficult.
So where are you going to find support? Family and friends are the likely first source—but what if you need something more and what if family and friends simply aren’t the best people to support you? If that’s the case, consider a Mastermind Group or a formal study group.
If you’re someone who would be far happier never being in a group situation, then the concept of the Mastermind Group may not be ideal. Ultimately you just need to find someone who understands what you are trying to do and who can provide some support. The key is to be structured in your approach (e.g., a monthly lunch meeting) otherwise you won’t get the support you need.
Your Next Step
Who will form your personal network? Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to begin to build a small but mighty personal network.
- Write down the name of one person who pushes you to be better.
- Call that person and let them know what you are trying to do. Offer to be their sounding board in return.
- Set a time to meet.
- Formalize your plan to meet.
When the relationship is personal, you also need to be specific about what you are trying to do. Don’t call a good friend, go for lunch and then sneak in questions about your business. You’re asking for time to focus on you and your goals and that needs to be formalized, even if this is a personal relationship. If they are fully on your side, they’ll be more than happy to help but it won’t happen by accident.
Thanks for stopping by,