On Monday evening, I went to hear Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, speak about his new book Who’s Got Your Back. A lot of the things he spoke about really resonated with me.
His message was that we, as a culture, have become isolated from each other yet it’s relationships that drive both professional and personal success.
(A sobering statistic: 50% of individuals believe that someone has their back. Of that 70% are married. That means that only 35% of unmarried individuals believe that they have someone looking out for them.)
During the talk, Keith had us do several exercises with the person sitting next to us.
In the first exercise, he had us identify an ultimate goal of ours – something that we longed for and fear we might never achieve. Those who know me well know that I ended up sharing one of my biggest fears with the Indian gentleman sitting next to me who I had just introduced myself to moments earlier.
In the second, Keith wanted us to think of something that was holding us back, a behavior that was detrimental to our success but we kept doing anyway (an addiction if you will). My “addiction” came to mind just as easily as my “ultimate goal”: My perfectionsim has fueled an aversion to answering e-mails.
I am horrible, horrible, at answering e-mails even though I have the best of intentions. The problem is that when I get a personal e-mail, I want to respond in kind. I want to really sit and write from the heart and be able to edit and re-edit until I get the flow and content just right.
But in the end, the e-mail remains unwritten.
I know, I know, that my contacts would rather receive something than nothing. And yet, I always find myself in the same situation.
So, as of this Monday, which happened to be June 1st, (a nice round date), I vow to hold myself to a higher standard – or maybe to a lower one, as the case may be – and to really make a concious effort to respond to the personal correspondence I receive.
I haven’t yet read Who’s Got Your Back (although when I do it’ll be a copy signed by Mr. Ferrazzi himself), but from what I can tell, the next step in Keith Ferrazzi’s plan for happiness is to seek out two to four people who can act as a peer support system or a board of advisors. These are people who must exhibit: vulnerability, candor, generosity and be able to hold you accountable to your goals.
So, if I actually go through with this whole thing and you get a call from me asking to be on my “team” I hope you won’t let me forget this promise I’ve made to myself.