While the lone wolf, silent hero is certainly popular in movies, books, and TV these days, when it comes to real life few of us truly “go it alone.” Instead, we rely on networks of friends, family, co-workers—you name it—when the going is good and especially when the going gets tough.
Think about it. It’s no fun to attend a big summer blockbuster all alone, or go out to dinner, or even watch a ball game solo (on TV or in-person). Nor is it fun to go to the beach . . . and it’s virtually impossible to smack a volleyball around by your lonesome. Even in good times, we look to each other for support and to share our experiences. It’s human nature.
But what about those rough times, when the road gets a little bumpy?
It’s been my observation that we tend to recede into our own little safety cocoons when one of life’s inevitable obstacles rears its ugly head, determined to tough “it” out (whatever “it” happens to be) and figure things out ourselves. Maybe we’re afraid of what others will think, or embarrassed by a particular situation, or afraid to lose control, or really just not sure of what to do next.
Whatever the reason, withdrawing to your very own fortresses of solitude is about the worst thing you could do when you (or your company or your family) faces a big challenge.
Because the people around you are the ones most likely to be able to help, and generally they want to help if only you give them a chance. After all, they know you best (maybe even better than you know you!) and are sure to have some ideas on how you can resolve your issue or challenge. Besides, some may have already faced your dilemma themselves and can aid your decision-making from a place of experience.
When you involve those around you in your decision-making process, whether it’s a personal matter or a professional one, they can help you plan and solve the problem, rather than becoming part of it or simply observing from the outside.
- Let’s say you’re considering downsizing or reorganizing your company. Rather than keeping your intentions from employees, engage them in the process. When you do, employees will be more apt to support and help . . . and you never know when someone might come up with that diamond-in-the-rough of an idea that you alone could never muster. In addition, involving others stops rumormongering, allays fears, and gets everyone aligned and productive.
- The same goes for personal matters. Let’s say you’re experiencing personal financial woes. Do you tell the kids? Do you tell your spouse? Do you tell friends? Or do you just try to soldier on, keeping others in the dark and putting on a brave face? The answer is obvious. Go it alone and you sow the seeds of distrust and rumor. Engage others and you begin to work toward a solution.
What about you, are you facing a career challenge? Is your business underperforming and you need to make changes to stay afloat? Is a personal or professional relationship getting in the way of your happiness and fulfillment? Do you or a family member need some kind of help but you simply don’t know where to turn?
The answer could very well be all around you. Turn to you friends. Turn to your family, your co-workers, your business network, your local church or school or community group. You don’t have to go it alone.
And when you do, remember that open and honest communication is the key to engaging others and gaining their support. Cover the basics of who, what, where, when, and how with them. Explain WHY they should care and how your decisions will or will not affect them. Actually listen to their responses and input, rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak again.
By keeping others in the loop, you encourage idea sharing, innovation, and problem-solving. That’s how good decisions are made . . . and good decisions quite often lead to good outcomes.
When changes have been afoot in your personal or professional life, what has your experience been? How have you involved others in your decision-making process?
Share your thoughts and your experiences here.