A Sure Way to Fail: Being Ms. Independent

I must have spent days upon days in my cubicle dreaming I could be self-employed and working from my adorable home office. I wanted independence. I did not want to have to rely on other people so much to make a living.

Now I AM self-employed. My home office is NOT adorable. And, I’ve learned that being 100% independent is the fastest way to sink my business. There is nothing more important than relying on other people.

I love the following quote from Keith Ferrazi’s book “Never Eat Alone:”

Autonomy is a life vest made out of sand. Independent people who do not have the skills to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be seen as good leaders or team players. Their careers will begin to stutter and stall before too long.

I saw it every day at JPMorgan: people in my department were fantastic at what they did. Unlike my accounts, their interest & fees always came out perfectly calculated down to the penny. Mine were sometimes a mess. Often times these brilliant Excel afficionados would miss team meetings or skip out on team lunches to put their head in the sand and do great work. This is what they thought would help their career. I’d argue that it didn’t.

And from what they told me, none of my co-workers took advantage of JPMorgan’s amazing mentorship program like I did. I become friendly with the Commercial Bank’s head of HR. When I put in my resignation, I received a call from her within minutes. She urged me to stay and asked if I’d be interested in a position they had created within their department that I could interview for within the next few days. I decided not to go down that path but I still feel comfortable reaching out to this woman today.

I was dying to get one step closer to an independent, entrepreneurial career. After all, entrepreneurs are “independent,” right?

Over the last 6 months I’ve tested a lot of products and services with the goal of independence. I decided on offering social marketing services. Sounds 100% fun, creative and independent, right? It’s not. Nor do clients just come right to you. I’ve had to really adjust my mindset from “you’re a marketer,” to, “you’re in sales.”

A few years ago when I was hell bent on growing the readership of this very blog and learning all about online marketing, I got into the habit of meeting at least 2 people for coffee every week before, after or during lunch at my day job. It was during this time that I was writing my best work and also what lead to me getting two book writing opportunities by age 25. PEOPLE got me there, I didn’t get there myself. I’m adopting the same mentality and taking the same networking actions again today for my marketing business and it is working fantastically.

You will never reach the highest levels of your career or personal life without the support of others. Believe it.

I didn’t say that depending on others would be comfortable or natural. I just said it’s crucial.

How many of you connect your goals to PEOPLE who can help you achieve them?

Probably not many of you- I never used to associate my goals with people either.

Here’s the secret: focus on helping people achieve THEIR goals.

The more people you help, the more people will help YOU some day or introduce you to someone who can. Don’t keep track, don’t meet up with high expectations, don’t meet for coffee only when you need something. Start depositing into your social bank account today and make it a regular habit. When shit hits the fan, these people may be all you’ve got. And, trust me, shit WILL hit the fan.

Have you deposited into your social bank account lately?  

Do you have any equity in others right now? If not, what are you going to do to change it?

Nicole Emerick

Nicole Emerick founded Ms. Career Girl in 2008 to help other ambitious young professional women thrive in a career they love. Ironically, growing MsCareerGirl helped Nicole transition her own career from commercial banker to digital marketer. Today Nicole leads the social media team at a large advertising agency in Chicago. Nicole also served as an adjunct professor at DePaul University where she helped develop the careers of PR, Advertising and Communications students. Tweet with Nicole @_NicoleEmerick.