The Lone Wolf Fallacy

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There is a belief in today’s world that feats of indescribable proportion were accomplished by a lone wolf. A single person who defied nature and attained greatness. This is false in every instance. A generation of entrepreneurs are wrongly being led to believe that they can succeed alone.

Greatness comes in packs.

Humans are pack animals. A lack of social relationships even negatively impacts the development of our brain’s structure. This is how critical other people are to our survival. This is the same for building a business. Failing to construct these social relationships will result in atrophy and death of the business.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

It’s simple. Nobody has ever changed the world alone. This may be a hard truth for some to swallow, but it’s something we all need to hear. You can be the smartest person on the planet. You may be the most driven individual to ever walk the earth, but you will not succeed alone.

The Greats

There are many examples of people who are perceived in our society to be the lone genius that changed the world on their own. Although they may be the driver of the innovation, they weren’t the only ones in the car. There were navigators, back seat drivers, and a road to help them get to where they wanted to go.

Albert Einstein had the help of David HilbertHenri Poincaré, and even his wife, Mileva Marić. Bill Gates had Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft. Nikola Tesla had Thomas Edison and other partners who financed and marketed his inventions. Elon Musk didn’t get involved with Tesla Motors until after it was already founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Steve Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.

“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” — Steve Jobs

Every great achievement has been accomplished with the help of countless people. Nothing has ever been built in a black box. No discovery has been made alone.

Lone Wolfs Fail

Lone wolfs fail, period. There is no “but”. That’s the rule. Nobody has ever reached greatness by themselves.

Neither will you.

If you are sitting at home staring in the mirror thinking, “it’s okay, I can do this by myself”. Stop now, because you cannot do this by yourself. Whether you are an inventor, entrepreneur, or business owner, you need help. You may be able to create a prototype or scrap together enough to get started by yourself, but this won’t last. Things need to get done and you can’t do it all. You need to build your product, market your business, validate your ideas, and fill in the knowledge gaps that are preventing you from moving forward.

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” — Reid Hoffman

Find a co-founder who is able to manage some of these tasks. Preferably, the ones that you aren’t able to do yourself. Since, you won’t be able to succeed without a co-founder, most of your time should be spent looking for this person. Fill in the gaps with the people who know the things you don’t.

Creating Your Pack

Knowing that greatness comes in packs and building a pack are two entirely different beasts. Inspiring someone to give up their own dreams to build something with you isn’t easy. Sometimes, it’s trouble to even find people who would be capable of bringing your pack to greatness. I may not be able to tell you who is the optimal partner or where they may show up in your life, but I can try to give you a starting block.

Finding the Right People

If you don’t have a pack yet, start creating one today. Don’t wait another day to begin your journey. If you’re in a pack that isn’t on the path to greatness, leave today. You can’t change an entire pack that is on the wrong track. Greatness will require you to lay a new track and begin the foundation for the next group by selecting the right people.

Finding the right people is difficult. It could mean meeting hundreds to thousands of people before you find the person which is right for your vision. It’s impossible to tell where you may find that person, but we can go through some ideas to get you started. We should start by constructing a list of places which have the most densely populated set of people which fit the person you are looking to meet. This will reduce the amount of weeding out and improve the frequency of good encounters.

Let’s look at an example. Say you are a non-technical person who is looking to develop a mobile application. The first person you likely want to find is a technical partner. Someone who could help with the development of the application. If we think about what kind of person would enjoy building a software company, we can construct some personal attributes. This person should enjoy writing software, have a drive for building things, and like working with a team to accomplish a goal.

So, people who join groups or clubs that focus on building things is a great start. These people are born builders and love to get their hands dirty. They want to create something new. They are creative and have the skills necessary to develop new technologies. These are people who can help if you don’t have a strong technical background. Examples of these groups or clubs include:

  • 3D printing groups

  • Mobile app development clubs

  • Website building clubs

  • Robotics groups

You get the idea. All of these groups focus on actually building products. These people decided to join these groups on their own, so you can be sure they are genuinely interested in being involved with building something with a group of people.

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” — H.E. Luccock

After graduating from college, it becomes more difficult to meet people with specific interests. It’s possible the only people you will meet after college are the people at work, if you don’t put in the effort. They probably also aren’t the beset fit for your project. After all, there is little chance the 4 to 5 people you work with closely on a daily basis are the perfect fit for your project. This means you need to go out and find people elsewhere.

You can meet people at events or online. There are networking events in your area which may help you meet one or two decent people at each event. However, this may not be enough. I did say you will need to potentially meet hundreds to thousands of people before you find the right person. So, this would take years if you only truly meet one or two people per event. To accelerate the process, you can join a startup. These builders who got into a startup early are the dedicated people you may be looking to attract. A startup with 30–50 employees could accelerate the number of people you meet significantly. Spend time with your co-workers, invite them to meet other people you know and start building your social groups.

Get Them to Work with You

Once you find the groups you want to join, it’s still a challenge to get people to join your cause. After all, an early idea won’t attract good people unless it is truly inspiring. Everyone wants to be inspired. This gives us something to believe in. Now is the time you need to inspire people by your ideas, passion, and drive.

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” — Ryunosuke Satoro

Once you find people that meld with yourself, pitching your idea is an art form. Simply stating an idea is insufficient to attract passionate people. It takes a sense of moxie and determination to captivate the imaginations of other people. This must be done by addressing what matters most to each person. If you know someone wishes they could spend more time with their family, pitch a vision where they can spend more time with their family or have flexible working hours. If they want fortune, describe a future where they can dedicate themselves to a position where they can grow into wealth. If they want to solve interesting problems, illustrate the difficult problems they will need to solve on a day-to-day basis.

Every person has a motivation for their decisions. After you understand these motivations, your pitch can target what matters most to each individual. By listening carefully and asking questions, reaching these motivations can help build the foundation for your relationship.

Joining A Pack

The bravest person in the room isn’t always the one who leads. Following even though the idea is immature and the vision remains unclear is challenging. The future is uncertain, so following could end in failure. Disappointment lingers, but you are capable of joining a group despite this fear. Alleging yourself to someone even when there may be doubts requires courage.

In these moments, remember the power of a pack. Aligning with someone else will provide the ability to grow together. Starting with 2 is always easier than starting as 1. There are a lot of packs that are ready to be formed. All they need is a little push. You could be that push. There are times when joining a pack may be more difficult than creating your own. It takes fearlessness to tell yourself that it wasn’t you who had a great idea, it was someone else. But you recognized that great idea and are willing to fight alongside them. You are trusting that together, you will be able to reach greatness.

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” — Booker T. Washington

Now that you have joined a pack, fight for the pack. You are part of a group. This is powerful. Don’t leave anything on the table at the end of the day. Give it everything you got. This will not only make yourself successful, but it will make everyone around you successful. People will see the strength inside you and become inspired by it. This is how you generate momentum. With the knowledge, connections, and proximity to like-minded individuals, you have improved your chances of being part of a pack that leads to greatness.

Joining a pack can be the best decision you ever made. There are inspiring people in the world who are leading great teams. These teams can demonstrate what it requires to construct a great pack. The knowledge you will acquire will make you formidable. The connections you will make will build your personal brand. You will come so far, so quickly. Just by working on a shared goal with a great pack.

Get Started

If you are one of the many people who believe in individual greatness, these thoughts may cause you to question what you know about achieving success. You may be wondering how it will be possible for you to reach greatness, because you don’t have a pack. You may not even know where to start. A wave of anxiety is washing over you.

Relax. It’s okay.

Everything takes time, but you need to start today. Stop waiting to build your network. Stop believing you can rely on yourself for everything in life. Don’t wait to prototype your idea or pitch it to someone. Begin today. Network every chance you get, share your idea, and inspire others to join your vision for the future. You can’t reach greatness by yourself, but you can certainly get started alone.

Go out, inspire, and build your pack. Greatness will follow.

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StoriesMichael McCartyComment