All of us need significant help to fulfill our ultimate ambitions and existential purposes. Take this opportunity to assess where you are in achieving financial autonomy. What is your capital at work objective? By what age? What is the gap? We have a gap right up to the moment we have a surplus of capital at work. I say that because "being on track" is very different than having the outcome.
No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helps you. Althea Gibson
The more human capital you have available – the expertise of yourself, your organization and your network – the more you can accomplish. Our culture popularizes the highly-unlikely outcomes of business success, the equivalent of winning the lottery. The dominant strategy is to continuously build your human capital, and to rigorously design, prepare and act with that human capital. The reason those unusual success stories make the new is because of their scarcity.
How do we increase our Human Capital?
I know only two ways:
- Continuously learn and practice new relevant distinctions, methodologies and discourses, and
- Add people with relevant strategic and tactical knowledge to your networks of help
If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near. Jack Welch
I often encounter a lack of interest from CEOs in what help I might offer. I interpret this as a reflection of the un-grounded self-confidence of our culture and not something personal. Expert observers of global competitiveness assess America as "at the crossroads" (for more - Harvard Business School study). I speculate only about 1 in 100 CEOs are aggressively a "market" for strategic help. I see the best source of increased power, and thereby increased competitiveness, to be in gaining strategic knowledge.
I am fortunate that I've always felt "one-down", and am actively seeking every source of help I can find. I have a practice of taking at least one or two conversations with anyone who wants to meet me to make an offer of help or who someone in my network suggests I meet. Most of these conversations do not lead to a valuable connection, and without the practice there are many powerful contributors in my network with whom I would not have the relationship we now have. My advice – explore more possibilities.
To be a market for help, learn to make good assessments
When you explore more possibilities, the value of making good assessment quickly increases. Being a capable market for strategic help is a competitive advantage, especially in a marketplace where most people decline to assess. The basis for trust in someone's expertise, whether in the domain of business, law, medicine or any other, is their accomplishments. Accomplishments may include academic study of a discourse, and in many professional fields academic success is required for admission to the field. However, success in academics is not the same as success in action. Do you want the heart surgeon who's performed 1,000 successful surgeries of the type you require or the recent graduate with the highest academic achievement in the history of her medical school?
We make any assessment for the sake of action. The consequences of the action, negative and positive, determine the investment we must make in gathering assertions and help to make a well-grounded assessment. Some assertions in assessing the expertise of strategic help may be the assessments of others who have accepted offers. The most meaningful assertions, in my view, are what the person has accomplished as a performer. Have they produced outcomes that equal or exceed those required for your personal ambition and business mission (at least to go several levels beyond where you are today)?
You're going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it's always their actions you should judge them by. It's actions, not words, that matter. Nicholas Sparks, The Rescue
Being the CEO is in many ways the loneliest position in the company. We're supposed to lead, i.e. be able to make interpretations of the situations of the enterprise and make the necessary requests of our team. Often we can't rely on our team and staff being straight with us given the asymmetry of power between our roles in the organization. I recommend building a rich network of capable advisors and colleagues who will speak truthfully and rigorously to you. Powerful negative assessments are a great source of power. You won't get those if you're not open, have the network that can make those assessments and develop the skill to shape action with powerful help (that doesn't mean accept all assessments, by the way).
A real leader faces the music, even when he doesn't like the tune. Anonymous
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