There is an African proverb that I use often: If you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. These days I find myself questioning the first part of that quote. While we may launch out of the starting gate quickly, how far can we really get on our own?
When we know where we are going, and how to get there, it is probably more expedient to travel alone. We have the requisite knowledge to make the trip. No additional resources are necessary and, in fact, additional resources might impede our progress. What happens, though, when we’re less clear about where we’re going and might have no clue how to get there?
In these instances, it makes sense to surround yourself with those who know how to navigate the terrain and who may be able to help you clarify your thinking. While asking for help or being vulnerable enough to be able to admit that you don’t know something may temporarily feel uncomfortable, it will shorten your learning curve.
As an example, I was speaking with a leader the other day who shared that he’d recently celebrated one of his top performers leaving the company to start her own nonprofit. Not what you’d typically expect to hear, right? He explained that a project she’d worked on for the company ignited her passion to dive more deeply into this work. During their conversation about her professional development, she shared her aspirations with him. Over the next few years, as she continued to be a star performer, he provided introductions and opportunities that helped her build the confidence and skills to launch her organization. I wonder – if she’d kept this aspiration to herself and tried to figure it all out on her own, where would she be today?
So, I guess I would reframe this proverb to say, when you don’t have all of the answers, to go further faster, go together.