Archive for July, 2011

In Times of Trouble, Help Is on the Way If You’ve Built a Support Network

July 6, 2011

I’ve written blogs about my neighbors being my “crowd support” when I’m out running or cycling as I train for marathons and triathlons.  I’ve written about how they honk, cheer, shout out and wave to show their encouragement of my efforts.  But never did that support mean more than recently, when my home was flooded.

During the worst of the torrential rains, my driveway had more than 8 inches of standing water in it.  The driveway drain couldn’t keep up with the constant deluge of water.  I had two small pumps connected to hoses draining the driveway water to the street, in addition to the main drain, but that still wasn’t enough.  Seeing the water coming into the garage and knowing it would eventually come into the house, I went outside with a bucket and started bailing water in the lightning and thunderstorms with the sirens blaring. No, that wasn’t wise or safe, but I figured if it was my time to go, I was going to go trying to save my home.

Once the sirens shut off and the storms passed, my neighbors came out to assess any damage to their homes.  When they looked around or drove by, they saw me taking water to the street in a bucket.  Within minutes, an army of help showed up.  Neighbors I knew and ones I’d never seen before came with pumps, hoses, extension cords and buckets.  Within an hour there were 7 pumps, 10 neighbors and lots of buckets.  The damage to the house was significant.  But nowhere near what it would have been if everyone hadn’t shown up to help.

For those who know me well, they know I’m very logical, very determined, but not particularly emotional.  But on that day, as I looked at all those people who came to help me save my home, it brought tears to my eyes.  Their kindness was overwhelming.  It made me realize more than ever how fortunate I was to have such an extensive and caring support system, including support I never knew I had.

The next day, I went to thank my neighbors with a note and a little gift.  My next door neighbor, who had three family members helping for more than 5 hours, said, “You are the picture of courage.  Most women, would have seen that water and thrown up their hands and given up.  But not you.  You got out there with a bucket, determined to drain that water no matter what it took.”

So how does this story relate to business?

In our business lives, we have support systems…some we know and some come to our aid in times of trouble because it’s the right thing to do.  The key to having a great support system is relationships.  If we don’t cultivate relationships in good times, the support won’t be there in hard times when we need it most.  Often, I think business professionals are so focused on their day to day jobs and goals, they forget to look at the bigger picture.  And the bigger picture is that you don’t reach your goals all by yourself. It takes the support of others, whether that’s staff, vendors or strategic alliance partners, we rarely accomplish great things all on our own.

The other thing we must remember is that courage and determination are critical to our survival and success in business.  You can build the foundation for a great support system, but if you don’t exhibit leadership, determination and courage people will be much less likely to follow you or come to your aid.

So the next time you’re sitting at your desk, completely focused on the task at hand…look around you.  See who you can count on if things get tough.  And if you don’t see anyone, it’s time to start building your support network.  Get up from behind that desk with determination and start the relationship building process today so that support will be there down the road when things get tough and you need it most.