To Achieve Your Dream, You Need a Team
Self-help is a fallacy. Over the years, all of the advice gurus have had our attention—-but have misled us. Self-help makes for a good story or seminar but it’s all fairy tales, like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Research suggests that self-help books can actually have the opposite effect, by creating even more feelings of inadequacies in the reader. Even research on self-help tapes or DVDs have been found to have little or no value on the listener. Statements like those below actually cause more harm than good:
- Do it yourself.
- Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps or bra straps.
- Self-made man or woman.
- If it is to be, it’s up to me.
The implication and philosophy in each of these is that you don’t need other people and you have to do it yourself to be successful; if you don’t, there is something wrong with you. This can breed deceit, isolation, subterfuge, gossip, the rumor mill, innuendo and combative competition. All successful people have others help them. Bill Gates had his team.
Is this Self-Help Blasphemy?
By now you might be thinking, ‘How can you say that I can’t help myself?’ Most of us have been taught the do-it-yourself mantra. I am actually suggesting a higher calling, one that communities, companies and countries so desperately need. It begins with individual responsibility and accountability for oneself but then requires a step up by thinking and acting the same way in helping others, if not all of humanity. Former US President John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Helen Keller added, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
Self-help is contrary to the very nature of people. The truth is that we start needing people to help us succeed from birth. Can you imagine a mother telling her baby, “Get up, feed yourself!” Quite frankly, all of human progress involves innovation through cooperation. Progress is often destroyed by elitism, selfishness, greed and egotism. We learn more, we learn faster and we become more effective while giving assistance to and receiving it from others. That’s the essence of teamwork. It’s a more natural state of who we are as people. We need to teach this early on so we grow up thinking of it as natural and valuable, not as a weakness.
The world’s greatest nations, cities, organizations and achievements have never been because of individualism. While some people may have lead the way and received the accolades, it took a team or collective of people to reach a breakthrough. None of the great human achievements (electricity, telephone, computers, internet, automobiles, the Pyramids, modern physics etc.) were realized singularly. Each inventor walked on the backs of others ideas while often enrolling new people in a quest for improvements.
Democracy of today came from many civilizations such as the Iroquois nation, India, Greece, the Roman Empire, Poland, the Celts, and the United States. That everyone has the right to participate in how they are governed–a higher level of teamwork–is revolutionary for human history. The prelude to this evolved thinking required enlightenment concerning the dignity and equality in all people, regardless of who they are or where they are from.
Always in history there are people that want things the way that they want it and will take it by force if they can. They will confront and abuse anyone that gets in their way. It happens every day with the bully in the schoolyard. World history is littered with Hitler types. ISIS is a prime example today. Going it alone is often deep seated. Nigeria, for example, is losing its country and children to Boko Haram but is reluctant to accept support.
Corporations certainly aren’t exempt, with too many megalomania CEOs. The founder of one company I worked with was called “little Hitler.” You either did it his way or were gone. He lost many good people because he never realized the power of a team.
Self-help advocates may mean well but they engender individualism, not teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration. I have attended over a hundred seminars, and it was the other people attending them that taught me the most. Any success I have had has come from the working relationships forged with colleagues, employees and customers. Intelligent entrepreneurs understand quickly that in order to achieve the dream, you need a team.
Here’s the point: people are social in nature. The term ‘self-help group’ is an oxymoron because they are people with similar challenges helping one another. Michael Jordan was a superstar, but he won those six championships with the Chicago Bulls team. Winning Olympic athletes stand on the podium alone to receive their medals. Yet their coach, country, and fellow athletes helped them get there.
For any of us to excel to our best potential in life we need others. First to help, and then to be helped. The greatest leaders who significantly and positively change a group of people, community, a company or a country are those that heed the phrase, “Help others succeed and YOU will succeed.” The reality is to achieve your dream you need a team!
What impact does this have on you?
If you are a manager and want more success, think of your team. Yes, work on yourself, yet simultaneously ask yourself: how can you make a difference for them? As you do, they will make a difference for you. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming them or co-workers for your failures. That’s easy, and many do it. It’s the path of least resistance. Stand out, take the road less traveled. Find someone in the company to mentor or coach you. Join a professional organization, expand your network and learn from others.
If you are an employee and want to progress in your career, consider the value you bring to your job every day. How can you serve your customers better? What more can you learn to do a more effective job? How can you be a team player? Ask your boss for feedback. Don’t blame the boss (although SOME are jerks–see my post ‘6 Proven Ways to Deal with a Bad Boss’), your spouse or your parents. Too many people use similar excuses. Why not be different? To get teamwork, give teamwork. Join Toastmasters and get help to learn to communicate better. Volunteer with some community or humanitarian organization to help someone in need.
Steve Salerno, author of SHAM, which stands for Self-Help and Actualization Movement, shows that self-help is making America helpless. He shows evidence that that 80% of self-help customers are repeat and they keep coming back, whether or not the stuff works. He also suggests that the self-help approaches should be dismissed as “silly”.
It’s time that we make more alliances, engage our networks, ask for experienced mentors, use master mind groups, and learn teamwork. If we learn from only our own experience, we waste valuable time in helping others and ourselves. If we learn from what others have done or are doing we go faster and farther. We all have to think bigger. Ron Garan author of the Orbital Perspective concludes, “If we adopt the same collaborative mindset and practices that got us to the moon and back and that built the International Space Station, we can alleviate poverty—and do much more.” There is strength in unity. Let me say it again: to achieve your dream, you need a team.
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