How to light a fire under almost anyone without getting burned – part 2 – Four Reasons Why We Work Alone.

Four Reasons Why We Work Alone.

First, We Find It Too Daunting to Release Responsibility to Others.

 We have an  intuitive understanding of our ultimate objectives and the things that need to be done in order to reach those objectives. Often the people to whom we would release responsibility don’t. Our natural instincts, insight, and understanding make us singularly capable. Yet that very deposit within us also creates a barrier preventing or at least impeding the entrance of other people who could enhance and extend our gifts and enable us greater reaches of influence and accomplishment. We know the what’s, why’s, and most of the how’s but we are often not so good at revealing them to others so that they can grasp our vision and make it their own.

 Second, When We Have Attempted to Add Others to Our Team, We Have Nearly Always Picked the Wrong Candidates.

A common and debilitating misstep, it often makes leaders gun shy. Having pulled the trigger on a misfire, it “blew up in our face” and we’re reluctant to do it again. We tried to light a fire under someone and got burned. The practice and art of selecting the right people receives a thorough investigation and I will explain in detail over the next several weeks, so I won’t elaborate here.

 Third, We Find the Task of Keeping Others Motivated to Be Too Distracting and Too Draining.

We feel, and correctly so, that the job of stoking the fire takes us away from what we really like and need to be doing. As people are added to us as strategic partners, there is an initial period where more attention is required from us towards them and less towards what we want done. But if, and I emphasize if, we have carefully selected people to work with and through, and if we know how to light a fire under them, the temporary “distraction” of fire kindling and stoking pays remarkably huge dividends over the longer term. The fire will ultimately burn independently, we’ll be able to move away from its flame, and we won’t get burned!

 Finally, We Simply Do Not Want to Take the Time and Effort to Channel the Activities of Others Unfamiliar With Who We Are, What We Do, and Where We Intend to Go.

We have too much to do in too many places. Our gifts have made us successful. That success has created a demand for what we do. That demand has expanded to the point we simply cannot even consider adding one more task to our list, especially ones so mundane as selecting, training, and deploying visionary strategic partners. That’s the paradox. Working busily on really important objectives, we need assistance. But that would mean taking time away from what we do to recruit and train assistants, time we think we cannot afford.  So, we have assembled and almost exclusively limit ourselves to tactical assistants.

 Competent Tactical Assistance is a Must.

Without it the stream of activity in your professional or personal life loses its direction in the same way a great river descends into its delta. The energy and force that characterized its flow as a young stream becomes lost in a broad range of relatively shallow activities. Focus, force, and direction enable great rivers to cut new paths, change the landscape, and alter the environment. Over time and distance, that focus broadens and clearly defined purposes and objectives become fuzzy. The river’s force dissipates and it finally empties itself out. Its direction becomes less certain, less definitive, more inclusive. The best features of the river seem to lie behind, in the past, upstream.

But it doesn’t have to be!

With deliberate planning and execution, we can maintain focus, sustain force, and preserve direction. Rescuing us from a multitude of organizational and mundane tasks, tactical assistants do enable us to accomplish more than we can alone.

But not nearly as much as we could do if we utilized a strategic staff!

You simply cannot accomplish as much in as wide a range at as high a level by yourself as you can with a staff of competent, motivated, reliable associates. In your realm of  responsibility and activity there are many things that just about anyone can do. There are many things some people can do, but there are a few things only you can do!

It is usually those few things only you can do that make possible your success. Your unique blend of personality and proficiency needs to find the center spot on your plate of responsibility and activity. To reach the highest levels of accomplishment, discover what are the things only you can do and do only them.


Leaders and managers who hold an objective of accomplishment, appropriate the skills and obligate themselves to the challenge of creating and deploying strategic partners. They have learned to light a fire under others. Robert, the man I referred to in the previous post, having tried and been burned or perhaps couldn’t keep the fire going without providing too much fuel which he himself had to provide, simply gave up and indirectly, perhaps even unconsciously, decided to limit his personal and professional successes to what could be accomplished using only tactical assistance.

Tactical teams are more easily managed because their tasks can almost always be defined in quantitative terms. You can post or schedule a list of activities – filing, typing, setting appointments in an office environment, drilling holes in widgets, attaching whatzits to wherezits in a manufacturing environment. Then the list can be quite easily managed by plotting tasks that must be done against the time it will take.

But they will not, indeed they cannot provide the broad sweeping support and multiplication that comes from a strategic staff of associates. And that is the subject of Monday’s post. Talk to you then.

In the meantime, I’d like to know what problems you have encountered in your quest to develop and deploy associates. I promise to direct future posts to answering your questions. Either leave a comment below or send an email on the CONTACT ME page.

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