The Myth of Going it alone

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’

African proverb

In our highly individualistic society, we’ve got it into our heads that we need to do everything ourselves. The lone hero saving the day. The isolated artist or writer. Such a sentiment prevents us from reaching and asking for help.

This truth has become so accepted that we don’t seem to question how valid the idea is. We see it as a rite of passage, a test of our maturity that we find success for ourselves, but has it gone too far?

Show me someone who found success by themselves?

Group hug

The fact is all our success has to be built upon the support and help of others, even those who tend to work alone like writers and artists.

Projects are often complex, they take time and require an array of skills and knowledge to complete. As an artist, I can make the art, but I require the services and tools of others to help me promote and sell it.

Don’t try to do it all by yourself, no one individual has the necessary skills and time to do it all.

All successful individuals sought help from others. For the solo entrepreneur say writers and artists we need to seek out web designers, agents, editors, publishers and just those who give us advice and emotional support.

All creatives have a network around them. Take for example some famous circles of creatives.

The Inklings were a group of writer that included JRR Tolkien and C.S Lewis who had an interest in old literature and wanted to write modern myths. They regularly met in a pub each week where they critiqued each others work, sometimes vehemently. 

Another example is the group that became to be known as the Impressionists which included Manet, Pissarro, Monet, Cezanne and, Renoir who met up regularly at cafes in Paris to discuss politics art and more.

Facing the struggle alone doesn’t mean your isolated from others.

There is danger in isolation too. Deprived of feedback and cut off from reality, our imagination becomes inflamed. We end up with some odd ideas about how things work, who we are. Our self-critical voice gets louder. Till the point were our beliefs bear little or no resemblance to the world. It becomes a vicious cycle because what’s need most is a dosage of reality, of facts, not beliefs.

Groupies and supporters 

How people can help you fall into different categories.

  • First, there are the emotional support individuals who help you with the fears and doubts you will face. It’s a struggle and knowing you’re not alone can help a lot.
  • Technical support. There are those individuals who have the technical knowledge and infrastructure you don’t. Their own set of skills compliment yours. The software, and hardware you depend on.
  • Fellow creators. There are those who offer inspiration. By seeing other artists work it can inspire your creative output.
  • Fans. Those who like what you are doing can be of immense strength and support because you come to see the value of your work through the help and inspiration if gives to others.
  • Mentors. Artist can draw strength from these individuals in a number of ways because they have been down the same path. They can offer insights, support, connections and more.

You won’t necessarily have all of these but you must have some.

Social skills

This all shows the importance of getting on with others. Science tells us that our social circle plays a massive role in our well being and success. With our happiness coming from family, friends, and colleagues that we see on a regular basis.

Success depends so much on social connections, and it shows up when people like myself don’t have those skills. I found it hard to find success because I don’t have the connections to people who can help me. So I have to do it all by myself.

If you’re not the communicative type like me then my call to action is to do what I’m doing and reach out to others and build your own circle. No matter how difficult it is.

The image of the lone hero really needs to die, the truth is we rise and fall together.

Today, to succeed in business means having to know a lot of knowledge, far too much for any one person to grasp.

To find success there has to be the willingness to ask for help from others. To create a network of contacts, supporters, teachers, and fans that form the living breathing part for your business. It all shows the value of teamwork, even with those who create alone.

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