“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody — a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns — bent down and helped pick us up by our boots.” ~ Thurgood Marshall
In the quote above, Justice Marshall was onto something really important when he made that statement. He has always been one of my personal and professional heroes and I took that statement very seriously when I practiced law. I left the full-time practice of law years ago, and have had the pleasure of being a successful entrepreneur for a decade. And, yet, Justice Marshall’s words still ring true.
If you speak to successful business owners and ask them to share some of their success secrets, almost all of them will mention that they had help along the way. It could have been from a colleague, mentor, coach, or mastermind group — the type of help and who it is from is not nearly as important as the fact that the business owner sought and received guidance in some form. The successful business owners who found their way completely on their own with no outside support or guidance whatsoever are either not telling the truth, or really took the long and hard path to get where they are.
Accountability is key to success in business! Regardless of the form the accountability and support takes, it will help move us forward and make us a better business owner. Being accountable to a colleague, a mastermind group, or a business coach is a great way to stay on track. Studies show that business owners (and individuals in general) achieve success more frequently when they set up accountability checks.
At different times in our business, we may crave guidance for different reasons. We may want someone to cheer us on, tell us the truth when no one else will, kick our butt, allow us to vent, or lend a shoulder t o cry on.
But do you let just anyone mentor or guide you? Heck no! Think carefully who you will let into the inner sanctum of your business. First, they need to be trustworthy as you will be revealing a lot of personal and professional information to them. Second, they must be non-judgmental so that you are not made to feel insecure or “less than”. Third, they must be truly non-competitive, so that you are not worried that your best stuff winds up on their website. And, fourth, they must have your best interests at heart.
Another factor to consider: Are they at the same level of business you are — or higher? Cultivating business relationships is like playing tennis. If you “play” with people who are better than you, your game will improve. If you associate with people at your level or below, your game will plateau and there’s no forward motion. The people you’re brainstorming and collaborating with should truly add something to your business and vice versa.
So, look for business colleagues or coaches that are like-minded business owners that can support and challenge you, while also serving as a vital accountability check. The company you keep for your business really does matter. As Justice Marshall pointed out, in business, as in life, it helps to have someone bend down and pick us up by our boots.