I am a big fan of the author Malcolm Gladwell and his philosophy on life and towards business. One of my favourite reads is his book ‘Blink’ – The Power […]
I recently stumbled across a sound bite from one of the world’s top golfers – Rory McElroy. It catapulted me back 20 years to when I was in the throws of a start-up where business and cash-flow were both on very limited supply. Rory’s sound bite resonated very strongly with me and it was a breath of fresh air to hear a top sports star admitting to his own weaknesses and his stubbornness in this regard.
For those into golf, or those remotely interested in it, Rory has had his fair share of ups and downs. Not least of all was his complete implosion during the last 5 holes of the 2011 Master in which he lost his comfortable lead and with it the tournament. Fans of the game will also be familiar with his erratic putting over the years, big driver and unbelievable long player but wasn’t cutting the mustard consistently on the greens. But he continued to battle the demons of the green on his own. That was until very recently. A few months ago he drafted in the help of an expert putting coach to help him plug the hole in his game. It would seem now that his stubbornness and unwillingness to ask for help with this part of his game appears to have been the barrier preventing him taking the next step towards greatness.
Like Rory, (OK not quite like him but you get what I mean!) I too can be a stubborn person. Ask anyone that knows me they will probably tell you that it’s not a case of ‘can be’ but a case of ‘Is! Now stubbornness and powering through can be a good thing at times. For example, being too stubborn to give up during the recession has proved to be a good thing. But sometimes you have to swallow your pride and ask for help, whether that’s in business or in your personal life.
They say that the first two years of business are the toughest and when most companies fail. Pulling through this period is one of the first major hurdles of any startup. I was no different and back in 2001, after a year in business, I found myself with my back to the wall with a choice to make – Throw in the towel as money had all but dried up, or turn to my father and ask for help. After about 12 months of living off expenses, the well had ran dry. I asked him for a loan of £1000 Irish punts (euro had just come in) to get through another month. It just about lasted the month and because of this the company pulled through. Little by little that month the phone began to ring and consistent work began to trickle in. Without that financial help I most likely would have ended up on a different path from the one I believe was meant for me.
In my blogs I often refer to an inspirational speech from a former Navy Seal -Admiral William H. McRaven. His speech to graduates of Texas University is about 10 life lessons he learnt during his Navy Seal training and I often draw upon different ones for different aspects of my own life. If you haven’t seen the video or read the transcript I strongly suggest you do so. (Top 10 Life Lessons Of A Navy Seal) I suspect Rory may have seen it or at least one of the lesson from it!
Number 2 on the list is: If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle. “During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students — three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy. Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast. In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.
For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle. You can’t change the world alone — you will need some help — and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”
So next time you need help with an aspect of your life, whether that be in business or personal don’t be too proud to ask.