Why your Buddies are so important and how they can impact your bottom line – Part 1.
I’m pretty confident that most of you are familiar with the phrase “six degrees of separation” but for those that haven’t heard it before Wikipedia defines it as: “…the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929 and popularized in an eponymous 1990 play written by John Guare.”
It’s a pretty good game to play. At an Athena networking meeting I attended recently we were asked to see who was connected to the Queen. Interestingly three of us came up as a yes, including me. My cousin was awarded an MBE a few years ago. And although it was Princess Ann who actually bestowed it upon him, it still made me only 4 steps of separation from the Queen. We did have one person whose family was actually related to the Royal lineage, so I think I came a pretty poor second or third in this particular game! But I am still very proud of my cousin.
When I talk about Your Buddies with my clients and how they may be impacting your business we look at it from two different angles:
- Who are you mixing with and hence who are you taking advice from?
- What are your relationships with all the Buddies in your life like – and how is that impacting your business?
In this blog, I’m going to be looking at who you mix with generally. Next week, we’ll look at all your different relationships.
There are various sayings regarding the relevance of whom you mix with along the lines of “you are the average of the 5 people closest to you”. I have heard various different examples of this quote, but the essence of this is if that if you are aiming to be a truly successful entrepreneur, then mix with those people who are already up there. Mixing with people who are just rumbling along will keep you at that level too. But mix with those who have already made it and you will increase your learning curve to be able to emulate their success.
I remember the first time I heard this phrase and my immediate reaction was quite negative, because I thought of all my close friends and family I might have to ditch! And however much we may be tempted at times, generally we don’t dump our family members. But despite this first reaction, I have experienced how much some of my close associates – friends and family alike – can bring me down and make me start to doubt myself. I’m sure you too have experienced times when you just wish you could get some support from those around you, rather than being on the receiving end of too many negative messages. How often do they have to tell you how unlikely it is that you will make a going concern of going self-employed, launching a new business, taking some financial risk – whatever your next challenge is depending on where you are in your business cycle.
So let’s get realistic here. How do we make sure we mix with the right people and what do we do about our friends and family who we love, but can be unsupportive at times?
Let’s get the friends and family issue sorted first. I have seen over the years, that some friends do indeed get dumped as the entrepreneur stretches her wings as she grows and develops. But this is not unique to entrepreneurs and hopefully we don’t unceremonially dump these friends, but more it is a gentle moving on and away towards new friends.
This happens naturally as we develop our skills and do the personal development work. Stepping into your entrepreneurial shoes entails digging deep and getting to know yourself properly – warts and all. That is knowing your strengths, your weaknesses, your fears and blocks and how to overcome them. As you do this, you start to identify those people who always seem to be putting you down or at the least not being supportive of your latest venture or new, exciting idea.
And then of course, there are those who react negatively as your personal income and wealth grow too. It’s not because you are splashing the cash and start behaving crassly, but some people will not respond well to your change in status that comes with additional wealth and success.
There are people who believe that anyone that has money has made it from some dodgy work practices, by fleecing other people and generally by treating others in their life badly. This thinking tends to come from their own place of lack, from money blocks, from not believing that money brings any good into the world etc. etc. And it is these people who will try to hold you back, because they like where you are now because you “look like them”. Sadly these friends are likely to be the ones that you gently move on from as you outgrow their thinking and do not need their negativity around you.
In my own experience, I have found that I haven’t consciously removed these naysayers from my life, but it happened organically as we had less and less in common. The frequency with which I saw them gradually decreased until it came down to just exchanging Christmas Cards!
It can be a lot more difficult doing the same with family members. I know some family relationships are so bad that communication does stop. But I am presuming in general that you don’t wish to lose touch with your parents or your siblings. So what do you do?
It will depend on why they are trying to pour cold water on all your ideas but it is usually based on a fear they themselves have. It can be as simple as they are not risk takers on any level and they are fearful of you losing everything. To these people, it is better to stay in your comfort zone rather than step out and see what you can achieve.
Your family might also have a picture of successful entrepreneurs that doesn’t match their belief of what you can achieve. If this is the case, it’s pretty disheartening to hear your loved ones telling you they don’t think you have what it takes to realise your dream. There can be many different reasons why your family is unsupportive of your plans and the key for you dealing with this situation is to identify what exactly their fear is. Then you can address that fear and explain to them what you are doing to overcome any weaknesses (real or otherwise) that exist. Speak their language when explaining. A successful conversation comes when you use their words as they recognise they have been heard, you understand their concerns and you can gently explain what you are doing to overcome any of their imagined situations that might arise.
Letting any of your buddies know that they have been heard is so important. But it doesn’t mean you are agreeing with them!
If you find your family really not “getting it” and pulling you down with their negativity despite your best endeavours to gain their support, then that is a time to start selectively choosing what you share with them. To me, that’s the worst solution, but it is still a solution. As you become more successful, do share your successes and at the same time explain what you overcame to get there – all the ups and downs. Helping them to see how prepared you are and how you overcome adversity and embrace opportunity hopefully will help them to appreciate how you are growing and they will start to appreciate your abilities more.
To become successful, you will respond much better when you are being given genuine support and when people give you relevant feedback that you respect. Choose to take advise from those that have the experiences and knowledge to take you to the next level and from those who are truly interested in helping you achieve your goals.
So how do you find these people and start to spend more time with them?
- Whatever field you are in there will be some famous people who you respect for what they have achieved and how they got there. You can start simply by following them on social media so you can see how they speak, what they share and learn from them. But you can also reach out and make personal contact or get an introduction (remember the six degrees…). You will be surprised how much time people who you think are way out of your league want to assist those starting out but who have huge ambition. They will respect you for reaching out and may even make time to meet with you for you to interview them to discover some of their business secrets. If not, a phone call or email exchange is still a pretty high achievement. Stay in touch and let them know how you’re doing. And support their gains too.
- Find and attend networking events where you will rub shoulders with people who are on the next level up from where you currently are (actually make that at least one level up – the more experience they have the better) – and talk to them. Get to know them, get them interested in what you’re doing. Just ask to meet them for coffee:)
- Do your research – find out who is really successful and who just looks that way on Facebook. Identify the areas in your business that you need to learn more and focus on those niches to find people who can support you
- Get a good coach or mentor. They do not have to be working in your field, because the best ones are working with you, the person. They will help you to grow and overcome any fears and blocks. Your coach or mentor will always be your biggest supporter and will not hold back on helping you to grow into the person you need to be to realise your full potential. It doesn’t mean it’s easy coaching – powerful coaching holds a mirror up to your weaknesses and helps you to find ways to achieve your biggest dream.
Have fun making new friends, learning more, growing and above all being more you!