It’s one of the many paradoxes of success I reckon – to be successful you need to be able to stand on your own. You need resilience and an ability to self-start. But it’s also incredibly difficult to do on your own. You need to be able to ask for help.
When I look back on my journey, there were many moments when I just had to put my head down and slog it out on my own – when I felt like the whole world was against me.
But I also know I’d never have gotten to where I am today with the help and guidance I received from others.
I’m grateful everyday that some people – a lot smarter and richer than I am – decided for who knows what reason, to take me under their wing. They became mentors, teachers and friends.
Every successful journey needs two elements – a drive system and a navigation system.
Drive you’ve got to come up with by yourself. Only you can tap into those reserves of motivation and ambition and make that commitment to move forward.
But navigation is another matter.
Imagine I blindfolded you, took you up in a plane, and then dumped you in some random corner of Australia and told you to make your way to Alice Springs.
Presuming you’re up for taking instructions from a millionaire nut-job with a helicopter, how would you find your way to Alice Springs?
Would you go north or south? Both could be completely the wrong direction. Do you try to go inside and tap into some sort of intuition? Good luck with that unless you’ve already developed psychic super-powers.
That’s the thing about being lost. When you’re lost, you can't determine for yourself the right way to go. The best you can hope for is blind luck…
… unless you have someone who can show you the way.
It’s the same story being wealthy and successful. You might have some concept of what that’s like, but that doesn’t really help you – no more than having a sense of what Alice Springs is like.
You need the help of someone who can understand where you are, where you want to go, and how you can get there.
This is the essence of a teacher.
But we’ve got some pretty strong aversions to mentors and teachers in the West – to pretty much any one who might try and tell us what to do.
This is a shame, because we’re lost without them.
I think the school system has a lot to answer for here. In an effort to make us functional cogs in a global money machine, teachers have been forced to become disciplinarians.
Ask any teacher. The moments where they actually get to share wisdom – the part of the job that can make it so satisfying – are rare. Mostly it’s just crowd control.
As a result we associate teachers not with helping us reach our potential, but with authority and control. We come to resist and resent them.
And we feel we’ve got to do it all on our own.
The one exception to this in Australian society seems to be around sports coaches. We totally get that concept. Even Roger Federer – probably the greatest tennis player that’s ever lived – has a coach.
We can see the value there. Someone to take a look at our form and tell us what they can see. Someone who can help us navigate a journey towards success. Someone who can keep us motivated, and help push us through our blocks.
But this is exactly the kind of influence we need in our journey towards wealth.
But the question then is, how do we find someone we can trust and work with. There’s a lot of folk out there offering their services.
Some are genuine. One of the things that I found now that I’ve “made it”, is that when I look back and can see how much of my success I owe to others, I become passionate about ‘paying it forward.’
But some are not. Some are just in it for the money. Or worse still, a sense of self-importance.
So how do we find someone who can really help us?
I don’t know if there’s any hard and fast rules, but here’s a few thoughts.
- Find some who inspires you – not just in terms of their measureable success, but the kind of person they are. Find someone who is living the life – in all its aspects – that you want to be living.
- You can know them by the company they keep. Successful and deeply powerful people will tend to gather a loyal and talented company around them. Like the knights of the round table. A teacher’s qualities will be reflected in his students.
- Beware of comforters and flatterers. Many will try to seduce you in with promises of easy roads, glorious futures and “specialness.” It’s a good life practice to run from anything that wants to comfort you and play to your ego. There’s no way to avoid hard work. You wouldn’t even want to. Don’t listen to anyone who promises a ‘workless’ path.
- Beware to those who would take the work from you. This is another seductive trap – someone who will carry the burden for us. But a life without burdens makes us weak. Find someone who can teach you to fish, not just someone handing out fishes. (Unless it’s Jesus. Then you should probably follow Jesus, provided he meets the three previous conditions.)
- Give yourself time and listen to your gut. Sometimes we become desperate and start clutching at straws – at anyone who promises a quick fix. We become deaf to our intuition, about why this doesn’t ‘feel’ right. Don’t let that happen. Take the time to feel into it.
- Don't wish the job was easier, always wish that you were better. If you come from this angle, you'll develop a strong “can-do” muscle rather than be a victim to the stuff that happens around you. One thing for sure, there will always be challenges that crop up. How you perceive them and how you handle them creates your future.
- Everything that happens in your life is your fault. It's an extension to the last point I mentioned. If you come from a 100% accountability position, you effectively take control of your own life. This is a principle that I've lived with for the last 15 years and it has served me well. I know it's a challenge, especially when it comes to situations that you believe are totally out of your control… However, are they really?
I don’t know if that’s a fool proof guide, but it’s a start. Be strong and independent, but don’t be afraid to take help if it’s offered to you.
Have my 7 steps helped you to clarify that you don't have to go it alone to be successful?
Do you have your own steps that have helped you deal with challenges and create success?