The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned in 2011

In a year’s time, you experience a lot. Ups and downs. Lefts and rights. Winds in the roads and sprints to the finish.

Of course, those are all metaphors – ways of saying that in a year, especially this year, a lot of shit happened. 

Success really boils down to hard work. Simply being willing to work harder than most, and embracing that working more today can, should, and will lead to working less in the future. That doing some of the work you may not want to do will allow you to (sooner than later) work on the things that fulfill, drive, and excite you. It’s all a part of the path to getting where you want to be.

But as much as I attribute success to hustle, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned in 2011 is that none of what I’ve done and what I do would be possible without the help of others. 

Alone, I hold myself back. I have too many ideas. My mind is scattered. My ambitions too great, or sometimes not great enough. I don’t give myself enough credit. I’m arrogant. I’m humble. I stay inside a comfort zone. I take too many blind leaps of faith. I fail. I succeed.

Alone, I contradict myself. And so do you. We grasp an edge of a cliff that represents challenges, obstacles and ambitions, but without a hand to pull us up the rest of the way we’re left there, hanging on for dear life, wondering how we’ll ever climb over the edge.

That hand may be your spouse. It may be your mom and dad. It may be your business partner or coworker. It may a fellow blogger, someone you occasionally tweet with, a stranger you met at a bar one night, or that random person who “likes” all of your Facebook statuses.

Sometimes, the helping hand doesn’t even know they’re helping. I’m often inspired, energized, advised, and challenged by people who will never know.

But without a hand. Without someone to support your idea. Without someone to motivate to you try something you never thought possible. Without someone to hold you accountable…

You’re left alone.

And if it’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that no one, not you, not me, will ever realize our full potential without others to help bring out our best.

So let people in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even stupid ones. Share your ideas. Learn from someone else. Meet for coffee just to pick their brain. Thank those that have had an impact. Make yourself available to be that hand for someone else.

No one has gotten to where they are without the help of friends, partners, coaches, teachers, advisors, and countless others.

You can do a lot on your own. You can do even more with others. If you haven’t realized that yet, let 2012 be the year you start letting people in. The year that you start collaborating. The year that you start making magic happen. Together.

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