The Secret To a Powerful Network: Be Beholden To No One
Give Me The Fish (GMTF): Dependency on others is only a crutch if that dependency isn’t chosen by you. Life is an individual sport, best tackled as a team, and that team should be handpicked by you. Choose to be dependent on others and build your network. Your network can be your greatest strength and open doors that you didn’t know were even there, but it takes your independence to get there.
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“The world doesn’t revolve around you”.
Scientifically, no, the world doesn’t revolve around anybody, and no, the world doesn’t care what you do, but in your world, the world does revolve around you.
You are the only person in your head, you are the only person that is truly codependent on yourself. And you are the only person that is solely responsible for your own safety and survival.
So, yes, my world revolves around me, and so should yours.
This isn’t a narcissistic comment, it’s a practical viewpoint of the world. You and you alone are responsible for your successes and failures. You are a naturally independent being, and your independence is essential to your existence. Only you know what is best for you.
This doesn’t mean becoming a recluse and swearing off your reliance on the world (though, I suppose this is an option). The world is, without a doubt, built on a tightly interwoven web of people that have forged societies now measured in the billions.
Networks are Basis for all Things Great and All things Bad
The societies of today were formed off the backs of leaders who had gotten to where they are by building powerful networks that were formed through connections with people they could lean back on.
If you get a chance to read “Outlier” by Malcolm Gladwell, he talks at length on the subject of what makes the most powerful people of today and in history past. He surmises that it was both opportunities and networks that actually borne them success. Not genetics, not smarts, and not ordained by a higher power.
Malcolm Gladwell’s case is further backed by, “In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in the Family” by Fox Butterfield. A book that is based on the rise of a criminal family that is built on the culture of crime everyone of the family is born into.
Together these books build a powerful case for the influence of those around you. It creates a foreboding sense that your lot in life is picked by the tribes you are part of.
Choosing Your Tribe And Your Network
When I first visited my wife’s parent’s house, I was still a young kid in college. I had already met her parents a few times, but never at their house.
Needless to say, I was terrified.
No reason for it, her family is extremely nice, intelligent, hardworking, and one of the most tight-knit families I know. Until I met them, I didn’t know these kinds of families existed.
After getting past the awkward small talk, and entering into the awkward hangout phase, the topic of their family came up. Here I am still awestruck by their tight-knit family and we start talking about the importance of a close family.
At this point, I’m trying to decide if I walked into some crappy sitcom.
During the course of our conversation, her dad said something that I haven’t forgotten years later. “When you get married you create a new tribe. It’s no longer you, your parents, and your siblings. It’s now your spouse, you, and your kids. Your family is your tribe and nothing outside of that really matters.”
He goes on to talk in more detail, about the importance of a support network and the strength of having a tribe. But I couldn’t get his initial comment out of my head.
Looking at this successful and happy family and seeing how well they interacted and supported each other was mind-blowing, but his comment made it all click.
I realized that relying on others wasn’t a crutch in itself, it’s only a weakness if it isn’t chosen by you.
Choose Your Network, Choose Your Tribe, Choose Who You Become
The best thing about this world is that you always have a choice. Consequences are another matter, but you always have a say in the life around you. You get to pick who your tribe is and you get to decide who you want to be dependent on. Once you have made your choice, it’s you and your tribe against the world. Not literally, but your tribe must come first. I don’t believe this tribe is really constrained to just your spouse and children, but it is essential that it’s comprised of your “A” team. Because this team is what is going to make you, you.
Your tribe is there to tackle life alongside you, help you achieve what your goals are, as your tribe achieves theirs.
Pick Your Tribe, Grow Your Network, and Retain Your Independence
Individual success is often driven by reliance on other people. The world is extremely interconnected and it’s naïve to believe otherwise, but that doesn’t mean you are beholden to those you are connected to. This is even true for your “tribe”. You are a unified team that should be working towards the same goals, but you are still your own person.
My wife and I have been through multiple separate deployments (she is still active duty military), and people are often awestruck by our ability to weather large periods of separation.
They always ask how we do it.
I’m always honest, but they rarely grasp what I tell them, or don’t believe me.
We are both very independent people, we both know what we want, and we are both perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves. Does it suck being apart? Sure, but everyone has separate lives regardless of if you are married or not. So, we just live our lives, life doesn’t end, it just changes.
The typical response is “my spouse and I couldn’t do that”. My first thought is that they might have picked the wrong spouse.
Your ability to be confident and independent human beings is essential to living a fulfilling life, and so is finding your tribe. They are not mutually exclusive.
You are Your Own Strength, Others are the Key
Find yourself, find out who you want to be, and make a promise that you will achieve it, and then don’t break that for anybody. Find like-minded people that are heading down the same path as you and build a loyal tribe to form your network. Your independence and chosen dependency on others, as hypocritical as it sounds is the key to success. You are beholden to no one, but your success is reliant on others. Choose your tribe, build your network, and find your success.