12. Find a few people you trust. Use them mercilessly - and let them use you just as much.  


This is another big topic so again I'll split it across a couple of posts - and no doubt come back to it as well.

Running a business is lonely and scary and it can leave you feeling very exposed. It's important to find people you can talk to, and who may also be able to help you.

Weirdly enough, I learned this, at least in part, from a British Telecom management training workshop. When I worked for BT I used to be sent on lots of workshops and I honestly think it's the only thing I ever did learn from them. Oh, except I now remember that I did also learn (learning point number two as they say) that if someone on your team at a workshop faints at your feet, grab them quickly and volunteer to take care of them, preferably in a quiet room in the hotel (these workshops, at middle-management level, are nearly always held in places like Marriott Hotels). Sitting watching daytime televison and getting stuff in from room service and chatting is usually a much better way of bonding than actually attending the "teamwork" workshop. Which brings us back to the first thing I learned, which is that it's okay to ask for help.

At the particular ghastly workshop I'm talking about (not the fainting incident one), we all had to make videos that communicated the company values. I wish I was kidding, but I'm not, this happened. My team's video was pretty crap because we spent a lot of time bickering - or in my case, alternatively telling jokes and going into a huff because they wouldn't give me full creative control, HUMPH.

We also didn't have a clue how to make a video. There were two technicians there and we were told we could ask help from them, but somehow we felt we should only do that in case of dire need (not knowing how to switch on the camera etc.) At the final "wrap up" session one thing we were asked was why on earth we hadn't asked for the help available to us. A really good question.

So - I pass on to you this piece of learning from that experience. If you know of people who can, and may be willing to, help you, then for goodness sake ask them.

Postscript. By the way, I was so utterly depressed by the video-workshop I'm describing that when they asked us a final question - what we would take home from the experience - I said something inane while clearly telling myself "That's it, I'm out of this job. These last three days tell me that I have to get out NOW". I moved jobs within a fortnight. There are times when I think that the main, hidden aim of corporate middle management workshops is to bore and depress the trouble-makers into leaving the organisation. Or am I just being paranoid?

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