Column: Networking myths: The lie of the 'lone wolf'
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.