“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.

About Lisa Montanaro

Lisa Montanaro is a Productivity Consultant, Success Coach, Business Strategist, Speaker and Author who helps people live successful and passionate lives, and enjoy productive and profitable businesses. To receive her free Toolkit, Achieve Powerhouse Success with Purpose, Passion & Productivity, visit www.LisaMontanaro.com/toolkit. Lisa is the author of "The Ultimate Life Organizer: An Interactive Guide to a Simpler, Less Stressful & More Organized Life" published by Peter Pauper Press. Through her work, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how Lisa can help you be purposeful, passionate and productive, contact Lisa at (530) 302-5306 or by e-mail at .

6 Responses to “Who is There to Pull You Up By Your Boots in Business?”

  1. Christine Marmoy

    Hi Lisa,

    This is a cry from the heart! I like to say that ‘Success is built with others!’ because nobody can make it alone. I like your analogy with tennis, I would just add that if you play with ‘same level’ players, your game will go down, because there is no status quo. We all need different types of help because nobody knows it all.

  2. Nadine Nicholson

    Lisa, thanks for posting this. It reminds me of the concept of a mastermind group, being two or more people. This concept was introduced by Napoleon Hill in the early 1900s. He wrote about a mastermind being,”The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony… No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.” I love this quote – the idea of co-activity, co-creation and a synthesis of great minds for a definite purpose.

  3. Lisa

    Christine – Thanks for your awesome comment! Yes, I think you raise a good point. We can learn from all different types of people, so we need to be open to receiving from as many people we connect with as possible. But I like your reminder not to always play at the “same level” or you will have a hard time up-leveling!

  4. Lisa

    Nadine – Too funny, as that is one of my favorite Napoleon Hill quotes too, and I often mention it when talking about the power of a mastermind group. Great minds like (and recall OTHER great minds too!). 🙂 Thanks so much four your great comment.

  5. Kimberly Englot

    Couldn’t agree more, Lisa! When I first started in business I tried to do it myself (thinking I’d be the very first entrepreneur who could easily and quickly become successful without help- HA!). A few months in, I realized I was very, very wrong and found my first coach.
    There is something about having a cheerleader to cheer you on when you don’t feel so fabulous, and she advanced my business by decades in only a few years.


  6. Jeanne Pi

    As Isaac Newton famously said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    We need to be challenged in order to improve and to grow. I know if I surround myself with people smarter than me, I will strive to exceed their expectations, thereby taking me to a higher level of performance. The fear of disappointing someone you respect highly is also a great motivator.

    So when you come across someone like that in your personal or professional life, grab a hold and don’t let go!


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