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Philip E. Humbert, PhD

Author - Speaker

Personal Coach

Chapter 7:
The Power of Partnerships!

The poet, John Donne, observed that "no man is an island", and the Beatles said, "I get by with a little help from my friends."  Truly successful people know that success always requires colleagues, cooperation, and community.  At the very least, it requires willing customers!

But, there is a resilient tradition in our American culture to "go it alone".   Our heritage is filled with figures like the "Lone Ranger", and we admire those who stood alone against ridicule and rejection, holding fast until ultimate victory.  I think of Susan B. Anthony and her fight for women's suffrage.  Or Rosa Parks, refusing to move from the front of the bus, and sparking the modern Civil Rights movement.

We admire those who go alone, from Charles Lindbergh to Amelia Earhart, who modeled courage and daring for millions.  And, the American cowboy (at least in the movies) will live forever as the personification of courage, integrity and "True Grit".

But, there is a problem.  While most professionals and entrepreneurs work alone, we are not cowboys or explorers.  We live and work in a complex, inter-connected, dynamic world.  We need each other.  We depend on our networks, our associates and our colleagues.  In fact, we have always depended on each other.

Highly successful people understand this.  They associate and work with other successful and highly resourceful people so that, together, they all reach higher and achieve more.  They know that teamwork and support, not lonely isolation, are the keys to major success in life.

Milton Friedman, the Nobel-prize winning economist, boiled his economic theory down to a simple metaphor.  He observed that no one in history has ever been able to produce a pencil.  It takes the skills and cooperation of hundreds of people to produce the rubber eraser, the brass "thingy" that holds it in place, the paint, the lead, and to grow, harvest and mill the wood for a simple pencil.  Success in the pencil-making business requires the cooperation of a vast army of colleagues!  How many people
do you require for your success?

While a few professionals work with groups of colleagues and specialists, most of us work in one- or two-person professional practices.  For every entrepreneur who flourishes in a corporate setting, dozens more are the first to unlock the office in the morning, and the last one to leave at night.

And, the number of people who work alone will grow rapidly as home offices and tele-commuting expand in the future.  More and more of us will work in what used to be the "spare bedroom".  Our daily work companions will be voices on the phone, words on the computer screen, and perhaps our children or the family pet.

This trend will continue because of the freedoms and benefits it brings for millions of us.

But, I see at least three potential problems.  The first is psychological, because we are designed to live and work in community, and I suspect we are healthiest and happiest when we work with our friends.  To be fully human, fully alive and fully successful, we need each other.

Second, after observing hundreds of highly successful people, I am convinced that great success is the result of people working together to achieve a common, shared goal.   When energetic, creative people pool their talents, something astonishing happens!   Great victories and achievements are usually the result of collaboration and teamwork!

And finally, we have always known that true success is measured by what we give back and contribute to the well-being of others.  From wealthy philanthropists, to those who volunteer at a local school, or donate blood, or provide reduce-fee services, success is measured not in what we make, but in what we give.

Highly successful people live in a rich community of friends, family and colleagues.   They have valuable networks, and they nurture these relationships.  Truly successful people know that they depend on the support, respect and companionship of their colleagues for their long-term, ultimate success. 

This week, renew an old friendship, extend a word of thanks to your best customers, and invite some former customers to come back.  Reach out, get involved, share your experience, your wisdom, even your doubts and questions, with those around you.  As we connect with each other, we not only "share the wealth", we all become richer for the experience.

Your success lies not in what you do, or even in what you know, but in how well you serve your community and how effectively you assist others to fulfill their dreams and reach their goals.  The most valuable asset any professional has is their rolodex, their network of friends and colleagues.  Investing in your friends is a vital, golden key to your long-term success!

Quotes of the Week

"Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get,
only with what you are expected to give... Which is everything."
            - Katherine Hepburn

"No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been
the reward for what he gave."
            - Calvin Coolidge

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but
still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something
I can do."
            - Helen Keller

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who
have sought and found how to serve.... The purpose of human life
is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others."
            - Albert Schweitzer

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Copyright 1999 by Philip E. Humbert. All Rights Reserved. May be freely copied and distributed as long as you include  the following information:  "The author is Philip E. Humbert, PhD.  His Internet site has many articles like this one, free reports, and a free motivational screensaver!  Visit him at:

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