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Jun 3
Isolation is Not a Strategy

A few weeks ago, I was doing some work near Yogi Bear's Jellystone Camp Resort in Ashland, New Hampshire. On my way back to the airport in Manchester, my friend and colleague Cheryl Smith who manages the resort took me past an interesting site on Lake Winnipesaukee.  There, on the middle of the lake was a tiny (and I mean TINY) island, maybe 50 yards wide, that had a small house right in the middle.  Apparently, the house has no utilities, runs off a generator, and the people who own it like it just the way it is, isolated from the rest of the community.  The only way there is by boat, although you can walk to it on the ice in the winter.  While that lifestyle appeals to some, I think it would be a little too isolated for me.

It made me think about how beneficial interaction is.  As humans, I believe we are wired for relationships.  People need people to get things done and to help realize their maximum potential.  Think about significant accomplishments you've achieved in your life.  Can  you honestly say you've done them solely through your own efforts?  In nearly every case, there was probably someone who gave you a lead, and idea, or some assistance that enabled you to succeed.

As a career coach, I always encourage my clients to identify companies and industries they'd like to work with.  I then tell them seek out people from their past and present that may have a lead into that area. If that proves ineffective, I then encourage them to brainstorm a list of people who they don't know personally but have connections and develop a strategy to meet them.  The fancy term for this is networking, but since that word is so overused, I prefer to just push the strategy and see what happens.  Since most jobs are found informally through people, the strategy certainly beats endless searches for jobs on the internet.  Everyone knows someone, who knows someone, who has the connections you need.  Stanley Milgram explored this phenomenon in his research into the six layers of separation (which most people know as the "Kevin Bacon" theory) where everyone is one "step" away from each person he or she knows and two "steps" away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth. 

If all this is true, and people are the real strength you can leverage to achieve your goals, then you have no business isolating yourself.  This week, why not make it a point to connect with old acquaintances.  Go to a networking event and meet some new people.  Strike up a conversation with a stranger on the bus or in line at the grocery store.  You never know who you're going to meet or who may in fact achieve their goals through a connection you provide.  It's really exciting if you think about it!

Not telling you what to do, just offering you a strong suggestion!


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Salman Khan
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