Who's Got Your Back: The Dream Team (Part 2 of 5)

07/05/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This is the second of an exclusive five-part series based on the instant New York Times bestseller Who's Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success--and Won't Let You Fail (Broadway Business) by Keith Ferrazzi.


In order to succeed, both personally and professionally, you need to be surrounded by an indispensable circle of trusted advisers, mentors, and colleagues -- what I call lifeline relationships.

I could be talking about Barack Obama's meteoric ascent to the Presidency. I could be talking about a regional sales manager whose team is seeing strong numbers in a down market. I could be talking about you losing those ten pounds before you head to the beach this July 4th weekend.

2009-06-04-bookjacket.jpgPersonally, I came to recognize the need for lifelines when I'd reached a point in my life and career where many of us arrive. I had done a lot, but I was still capable, I realized, of so much more. More success, however I wanted to define it. More love. More family. More intellectual stimulation. More impact on others. What I needed to reach my ultimate potential was input from trusted advisers -- people with whom I felt comfortable to let down my guard, and whom I respected enough to listen to -- to shepherd me and hold me accountable to my best effort.

My business would never have become the thriving concern it is today without the group of mutual advisers I cultivated. They sit down with me, at a bare minimum, every thirty days-and often every week, individually, by phone -- and we help each other refine, deepen, and expand our goals. For those who reach out to others and practice mutual support, the whole becomes far greater than the sum of its parts. That's what happens when you make the leap from me to we.

Your team of lifeline relationships should be there to help you break through -- even shatter -- your own glass ceiling, whatever may be holding you back, just as it helped me recognize and bust through my own limitations.

Here are the nine steps I lay out in Who's Got Your Back to help you build your own dream team:

•Step one: Articulate your vision. As with anything in life, you need to choose a direction. You'll need to identify some broad, forward-thinking goals that describe your aspirations.

•Step two: Find your lifeline relationships. Learn where to look for potential advisors, as well as the criteria to evaluate whether they can succeed in the role.

•Step three: Practice the art of the long slow dinner. This means creating the environment to turn those potential advisors into friendships and, hopefully, lifeline relationships that you can depend on.

•Step four: Broaden your goal-setting strategy. You need to identify not just your ultimate objectives but the new skills and knowledge you'll need to grow and achieve them. This means setting two kinds of goals, learning goals and performance goals.

•Step five: Create your Personal Success Wheel. This is the overall game plan behind your life strategy.

•Step six: Learn to fight! This is the necessary ingredient to spur the kind of conversation and give-and-take among lifelines that reveal new truths and create new value.

•Step seven: Diagnose your weaknesses. Understanding your weaknesses can end up being the source of your greatest strength. Those who understand what's holding them back are already moving forward.

•Step eight: Commit to improvement. Commit to acting on the understanding you've gained-by keeping your word.

•Step nine: Fake it till you make it-then make it stick. Escape the self-fulfilling prophecy that you can't or won't. Pretend that you can, and you will. Then learn to sustain it - with help.

Putting these nine steps to work isn't easy; it requires dedication, discipline, and a willingness to push through your defenses and fears. Setting goals, then busting your butt to follow through with them, takes effort, self-reflection, honesty, and perseverance. But by doing it as a team, you'll move from "Yes We Can" to "Yes we did."