“We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends”

the beatles

Okay, the Beatles weren’t really intending to hand out fabulous business advice but they might as well have been.

In our do-it-yourself culture where “the early bird gets the worm” and “the buck stops here,” there is a lot of emphasis on personal responsibility and accountability. Is that important? Sure! But that’s not the whole story.

The real story is that all of us who have climbed up to the top have had many helping hands on the way, from mentors who gave us good advice when the going got tough, to friends and family who consoled us along the way when the going felt impossible. Why is this kind of support invaluable?

While I’m sure everyone reading this has several personal accounts of how their loved ones have come to the rescue, these are my personal top 3 reasons of why we need to rely more on helping hands around us to grow our business.

1. Our Social Networks Keep Us Happier – It is true that initially many of the things we strive for to make our lives easier (earning more money, hiring our first employees, taking a relaxing vacation), do accomplish that goal. However, there is this nasty little phenomenon scientists call hedonic adaptation, which starts to work its evil magic and soon our huge achievements just become the norm. Then we are right back to striving once again to make ourselves happier. The awesome news is that psychologists have found that social relationships aren’t that way. We never “get over” having awesome friends, hanging out with them, laughing, etc. Each and every time we invest our energy in our relationships, we get (or stay) happier. So think about it, if you have one evening and could finish yet another work project (you really have been meaning to finish your monthly bookkeeping) or hire a babysitter and round up some friends for dessert and drinks, you will FEEL much happier the next day with option two. And hey, you might be so happy you’ll blow right through that accounting in half the time the next day – sounds like a winning decision to me!

2. Friends Want to Support Us – but we have to ask! We all have a circle of supporters who are ready, willing and able to support us – but often we don’t even realize they are there. When I owned Let’s Go Strolling (my online juvenile store), I was often hurt when I learned of friends buying baby gifts from other stores. Finally I mentioned feeling overlooked to a group of my close friends and they were shocked. They never even realized we sold those type of baby gift items. After that conversation, they were soon calling me up on a regular basis to place orders for baby gifts for all the new parents in their lives. One of the first rules of sales is that you have to ask for the business. Try applying that in your own social circles and make sure your friends and family know and understand your business and make it clear how they can best support you (e.g., buying from you, sending referrals, mentoring you with their own expertise).

3. Support Keeps Us Accountable to Our Dreams – Have you ever wanted to lose weight and enlisted the help of Weight Watchers? What is so effective about this program is that you meet weekly with your weight loss group and cheer each other on. You are also held accountable with weekly weigh-ins. Similarly, I recently did a 21-day cleanse and posted occasional updates on Facebook. While no one commented much on my posts, somehow wherever I seemed to go those 3 weeks, everyone asked me about how it was going (and usually told me I was nuts.) Well you better believe when the appetizers got passed around at parties, I knew everyone was watching me and I stayed the course. The same is true with our business ventures. If you want to watch your business grow, make sure you enlist the support of a trusted coach, mentor, or friend who will keep you on track, even when the going gets tough. While every business has ups and downs, it is the business owners who are able to make a plan and stay on track, despite the inevitable disappointments, that find they are thriving at the end of the day.

So folks, summer’s not over yet! There is still time to call your posse, plan a night out and break open the bubbly. What are you celebrating? The fact that this week you are taking a night off from worrying about your business, and just having a blast.

And your assignment for this blog? Commit below to pick one small thing you can ask a friend for help or feedback with. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised at their response!

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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