Mental Models: Life Is a Network
In our travels, we’ve become ever more impressed with people. Not necessarily people in general, but people in particular. The lesson we’ve learned, and hope we will continue to learn, is that everyone has a story, and that story usually is filled with amazing attributes and skills. The challenge we all face in the fast-paced age of the digitally connected is to take time to really get to know people, to dig under the surface to uncover their stories, their contributions, and their skills.
Top performers have taught themselves how and when to hit pause. Through practice, they have developed the ability to instinctively identify, develop, and nurture relationships and build valuable networks that provide a vast array of contacts and skills that can help solve the business challenges faced by them or their customers.
This ability to build and leverage a network leads to the misperception that top performers are personally good at almost any challenge placed in front of them. But that’s not the case at all. Typically we find that the real secret to their success is their network, coupled with the willingness to ask for help—help that their acquaintances are happy to provide.
Of course, the expertise involved in successfully building such a network is anything but simple. This type of network requires skillful human interaction that goes far beyond the so-called soft skills typically provided in a professional development curriculum. Skillful human interaction is often the most difficult to develop and the most valuable of all top performer attributes. And, befitting the difficulty and value, this interaction pays the highest personal and organizational dividends as well.
Questions to ponder:
- How well do you know your network? Do you know it well enough to know each person’s underlying story?