When Brigitte Lyons quit her high-powered PR agency job to pursue an independent career at the intersection of entrepreneurship and media, she started out trying to teach entrepreneurs how to do their own public relations and media outreach. She blogged, developed programs, and networked with movers and shakers. Eventually, we started doing business together on my business coaching program.
In working more and more with the business owners she really wanted to reach, it became clear that they just didn’t have the time to learn how to do things for themselves. They wanted help. They were desperate for it and willing to pay.
Brigitte knew herself enough to realize she didn’t want to be developing pitches and talking on the phone with journalists all day long. She was interested in working closely with entrepreneurs but wanted to focus on strategy, not implementation. Brigitte called me one day and said, “I need a Maggie.”
An intern Brigitte had worked with in her agency days, Maggie was an expert implementer and brilliant publicist. She knew how to work with pitches and editors. She could get placements through a combination of shrewd execution and fabulous connections. A Maggie could help Brigitte do the work she loved while giving her clients what they needed.
A few months later, Maggie emailed Brigitte to catch up. Brigitte responded by immediately making a proposal: get in on the ground level of a brand-new agency and only work with clients she’d love. After some hard negotiations, Maggie was on board. Brigitte now had an agency through which she could deliver the value her clients were after and someone to do the work she really didn’t want to do.
Brigitte got help. She could have tried to do it all herself. But she took the risk to bring someone else on to her team. I’ve worked with entrepreneurs who have always only done it themselves and entrepreneurs in charge of sizable teams who have worked hard to maintain control over every aspect of their idea. Ultimately, the underlying problem is the same: we want responsibility for our own outcomes. On the surface, it might look like an epidemic of wanting all the praise. But dig deeper and the bigger motivator seems to be wanting to have only ourselves to point the finger at for inevitable failure.
People who leverage Quiet Power fight their natural tendency to want only themselves to blame if things go wrong. They beat back the voices that urge them to go it on their own and not get others involved. This aspect of self-leadership is really self-control. It takes self-control to not keep working another hour, to not learn a new skill you have no business learning, to not make a plan that feeds most of the decision-making back to you.
It’s also self-control, not busyness, that keeps you in business. You can work until you’re blue in the face and still not succeed. That’s not to say that hard work doesn’t or won’t pay off. But is what you’re spending your day doing really getting you one step (or better, a few steps) ahead? Are your daily actions tuned to the goal you’ve set in front of you? Your goal can’t be to work yourself to the bone. The sense of accomplishment you’ve been missing won’t come from just checking tasks off a list. What you’re missing is progress, the sense that what you’re doing matters in the larger scheme of things.
Getting help can keep you moving forward. Few dreams are realized from the blood, sweat, and tears of one visionary. Instead, they’re collective efforts. They draw on the expertise and Quiet Power of the people enlisted to get the job done. Brigitte’s dream required Maggie’s Quiet Power to be realized. And together, they’re able to create something even better. Today, they’re aiming to work with non-profit organizations that are interested in progressive, cutting-edge media and outreach strategy. This is something Brigitte would have never created on her own. But by asking for help, not only could she relax and enjoy her work a little more, she was actually able to conceive of something better than her original dream.
What’s more, Brigitte has a whole team of people around her to celebrate when she succeeds, and their collective effort means the agency’s victories are a collective win. And when those inevitable failures occur, as convenient as it would be to know it’s her fault something has gone wrong, it’s even more convenient for Brigitte to have a team to reinvent, pivot, and plow ahead with.
If your dreams always feel just a bit out of reach, it might be because you need help reaching. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of actually bringing your vision to fruition, it might be because you need to enlist help.
This is an excerpt from my book, Quiet Power Strategy, which comes out February 10.