Studies show that athletes who train in groups perform better than athletes who train by themselves. This is true not only as an athlete, but at work as well. I’m currently training for the 2012 Andrew Jackson Marathon in Tennessee. While I would have been able to get enough training under my belt to finish the race, there’s no way I would have trained as hard as I have without the great companions I have. When March 31st rolls around, I am going to be ready for my first marathon. How can we translate the success that I’ve seen as an athlete to the workplace for all of us?
A sales pitch for accountability partners
Dale Carnegie, one of the most successful businessmen in American history, attributed much of his success to what he called a “Mastermind Group.” He would routinely gather fifty successful people at his home and discuss issues and solutions to problems. Those interactions and relationships were continuously providing new ideas and alliances to help him in his leadership position. Benjamin Franklin did something similar with a group he called “Junta,” and there are stories of other leaders in history doing the same sort of thing.
Hint: You don’t have to be a millionaire steel magnate to pull this off or see the benefits. Having just two or three people you can rely on as a sounding board for ideas can help you become more successful. If “mastermind” sounds a little hokey, feel free to call them your “personal board of directors” or “peer reviewers” or something else more innocuous.
When I speak I usually mention this hard-hitting quote by Jim Rohn: You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Want to be great? Spend time with great people.
Finding someone to hold you accountable probably won’t be very hard. It’s finding someone with the judgement and ability to add just the right amount of pressure to keep you on your toes. This is true for mentoring relationships as well. Too laid back? The protege won’t get anything out of the relationship. Too tough? The protege will start to resent the forceful relationship.
Ask questions. Dig into motivations. Find out what short and long term plans are and how those intersect or parallel with your own. If it looks like a fit, move on to the next step below.
Pick a priority
Let’s say you find someone willing to work with you. They don’t have to be a mirror image of your own dreams and aspirations. They can have one specific piece that aligns with your own goals. For instance, they may want to return to school for their graduate degree, or maybe they want to pass the PHR or SPHR exam. Whatever the case, you are free to work with them through the specific “project” and then find someone else for the next stage of your career.
With a little work, you can find someone to team with for higher performance. And you’ll be following in the footsteps of some of the most successful people in our history. Pretty neat, eh? I have correlated running to work performance before in a post about keeping a “running” log of your performance. If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy that one as well.
Anyone thinking of a way to harness this sort of relationship? I’d love to hear about it!