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Posted on Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 6 a.m.

Networking myths: The lie of the 'lone wolf'

By Greg Peters


Photo by Flickr user G's Man

The Rugged Individualist, the Solo Artist, the Lone Wolf — they bring to mind images of romance and admiration. Self-made and not depending on anyone — sprung fully formed and armored from the brow of Zeus, as it were — they are the success stories we follow and cheer. The news media and Hollywood love that character. We want to be them (or at least like to think of ourselves as being like them).

Well, guess what?

It's a trap and a lie.

No one achieves anything of significance entirely on their own. Oh, they can start movements, lead revolutions, and act as the focus for the efforts of others, but let me repeat, no one achieves anything of significance without the assistance of others.

Don't believe me? Look back at your own life. Think of all of your greatest achievements. Look back at those events you will cherish until your dying day and I challenge you to tell me even one that you accomplished without the advice, coaching, counsel, assistance, mentoring, instruction, connections, introductions, or financial backing of at least one other person. Heck, I would be monumentally shocked if anything but the most trivial accomplishments of your life didn't have a helping hand along the way.

As someone who chats and connects with a lot of other people, I've seen that there is almost a direct relationship between the levels of success that a person sees in their life and the depth, breadth, and quality of the relationships that person cultivates. Those who are truly alone? Well, they end up somewhere much further down the ladder of success.

In fact, many of them don't even make it to the first rung.

We even recognize that when we say, "He's going to die old and alone." We don't usually consider that a good ending.

If I were a conspiracy nut, I would claim that the Grand High Poobah Council which runs everything behind the scenes has propagated this myth in order to prevent the rest of us from getting above our station. After all, if we idolize that lone wolf who remains separate from the rest of the pack, that very isolation will prevent us from achieving any sort of significance in our lives.

So, maybe it's time for a new heroic archetype. The Great Connector, the Community Builder, the Pack Leader. Follow in their steps. Set their behavior as our standard, and who knows what transformations we can make in our own lives and the lives of all those around us.

Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to


Paula Gardner

Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

Liz, If you'd like to have a constructive conversation about this without insults, please give me a call. 734 623 2586. Paula

Sarah Rigg

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Nice, classy reply, Greg. And I agree that the Lone Wolf is a myth. Strong indivuality is perhaps necessary but not sufficient for accomplishing great things.

Greg Peters

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.

Thanks, Sarah! I often tell the folks I work with that you can be a great visionary, but if you don't win people to your cause, you are just a crazy guy walking down the street talking to yourself. ;-)

Liz Mayer

Sun, Jul 1, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

This is rubbish. Greg Peters writes a blog out of his home, calls himself 'super hero in residence' (his home residence), spoke to AA Chamber of Commerce wearing white jeans and old golf shirt, explaining the "secret" of things like facebook (which anyone under age 85 knows about). Has he ever had a management job, with a real company? what are his credentials? Guess what? All the great innovators in history were lone wolves. They of course used a lot of people in their work, but the last thing they would ever think about is "would my social network approve of this?" No one needs a 'network coach'. Henry Ford, lone wolf, was a visionary. Greg Peters is a white jeaned home-based blogger, trying to market a useless service. Kids: be a rebel, ignore the network consensus. - how about letting other people use your space for free self ads?

Greg Peters

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : midnight

Hi, Liz Thank you so much for reading and responding to my article. You may be surprised, but on many points I actually agree with you. Of course the great innovators were iconoclasts. They were visionaries who saw a different way of doing things and went against the status quo. I somehow don't think the likes of Henry Ford would change his mind today if he thought he would lose a few Facebook friends. Here's where I disagree, though. Those innovators would be unknown to us had they not been able to bring others to their cause. Your example, Henry Ford, is a perfect case in point. If you read about his career, you will find he had mentors, collaborators, and of course, financial backers who made it possible for him to become the father of the modern automobile. Often, entrepreneurs and sole proprietors (and I include myself in this), tend to think that they have to do everything themselves. They believe they have to be the "lone wolf", without the need of a pack. The truth is, most lone wolves starve. Oh, and as far as the "white jeans and golf shirt" go, I couldn't agree with you more. That was a really bad look for me and seeing that video convinced me to lose weight and get a more appropriate wardrobe. Thanks again for your comments!