Recently, my good friend and continual source of inspiration, Bob Burg, challenged us to reconcile a couple of well-known and generally accepted idioms.
“If it is to be it’s up to me.”
“No one does it alone”
So which is it? Are you Atlas with the weight of the world on your shoulders or are you part of a team effort?
Does your individual success rest on you or on your team?
Why does it have to be either/or? Let’s start with who is accountable. That one is easy, we are accountable for our actions, our behavior and our personal performance. It is up to us to take initiative, we are in the driver’s seat and that means ultimately that vehicle only goes forward when WE put it in gear and it only goes where WE steer it to go. It is up to us to do our best under any circumstances.
But that doesn’t mean we make the journey alone. We can delegate tasks that are essential to our success, we can build a team. Notice I said “delegate” not “abdicate.” We can make other people responsible for tasks by an exchange of value, hiring, outsourcing, bartering, etc… They do not take on being accountable for our success, only responsible for the tasks they take on. It is still up to us to make sure those tasks are being completed to standard and in a timely manner. So it is also up to us to surround ourselves with team members who accept responsibility and perform to our standards.
It is also up to us to surround ourselves with people who will support us in reaching our chosen destination and who will challenge us to dream of destinations we could not imagine without them. It is up to us to communicate clearly and openly, first with ourselves and then with others, about where we want to go and what we need to get there. And it is up to us to support others in their journeys as well.
Another cliche that happens to be true – “no man is an island” – we do not go through our lives in isolation. That is part of the “if it is to be” – that doesn’t just refer to our achievements but to the outcomes of the community, the society, the world!
We all have the opportunity to make joyful contributions to the journeys taking place along side of our own. We can lend a hand to a fellow traveler, or an ear or an encouraging word. Sometimes it is the joyful contributions that propel us forward the most powerfully because they are not offered from a sense of obligation; out of accountability or responsibility, but from a sense of companionship and camaraderie.
It is up to me, and up to you, and up to everyone else. We begin it, we commit to it, and we invite others to join us because “no one does it alone.”