Advice to Young Leaders: Don’t Try to Make it On Your Own

I’ve met with numerous young leaders recently who want the opportunity to “make it on their own”. I’ve seen it in my own two sons. They want to get their first job without the help of others. They want to stand on their own merits. They want to attain a level of accomplishment without the help of their parents, their parent’s friends, or any connection they didn’t make personally.

I understand. I felt the same way when I was a young leader.

And, I love the ambition. I simply don’t agree with the practice. That’s based on experience it’s taken me years to understand.

My advice:

Don’t try to make it on your own.

For one thing, we weren’t meant to live life alone. We are designed for fellowship, with our Creator and with other people. But, also, it simply doesn’t work.

There is no such thing as a self-made person.

Everyone gains success with the help of others. Failure to realize that leads to false pride.

More than ever before, knowing the right connections can help you accomplish your goals. I’ve told my two boys they will most likely never have a job in their lifetime where they didn’t know someone who helped them obtain it. If that person is your parents, or people your parents know, so be it.

I’m not suggesting you don’t try and I’m not releasing you of responsibility. You are ultimately, under God’s authority of course, responsible for charting your own course. You can’t expect anyone to give you something you aren’t willing to earn.

I am suggesting that you shouldn’t be timid or feel bad about using the connections and networking relationships you’ve been allowed to make or those connections of people who know you and care for you. Those relationships may be as important as any skill you bring to the table.

Does it bother you to rely on help your parent’s offer you?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • @Bryankr says:

    I agree with everything you said! I, too, took a few years to learn these things, with something else: I didn't listen too well when others tried to tell me it might be best to use those connections till I could make my own. I can tell others the same thing, but I remember how well I listened, and try not to push.
    Curious, how well does anyone that age listen? I think we understand it so well because we did trip our way through it.

  • Ron, this is a great post. At my school we've been talking about how there is no such thing as a "Lone Ranger," because even he had Tonto.

    For myself there are a few of stigma's I have to get over in order to accept help from my parents:

    1. If my parents help me it's not because I was too weak, or incapable.
    2. If my parents help me it's not because I am a failure.
    3. If my parents help me it doesn't mean I'm going to eventually live in their basement; living off of their retirement.

    There are some other pride issues that get in the way as well, but those are the ones stick out most in my mind.

  • Michael says:

    I couldn't agree with you more. God has called us to live in community. I wish I had understood this truth earlier in my career. I would have been further along. We all need to learn the skill of engaging those who need to be a part of what we are involved in.

  • Marie Wiere says:

    I grew up in England and now live in the U.S. Coming from another country I have learned that creating connections takes a long time. To those people out there lucky enough to have family connections that can help move their career forward – go for it! This is a tough economy and opportunities are hard to come by without luck and connections.

  • Ron! In India too, we have similar problem. There are some youngsters who wants to build up their business on their own without their parent's support or identity. But, I feel that the vast majority of younger generation has no problem in inheriting/ continuing or getting support from their parent's business and resources. In fact, I have also seen young adults demanding money from their praents as their birthright. How strange!!!

  • Hausdorff says:

    Everyone gains success with the help of others.

    you made a lot of really good points, but I wanted to highlight this because I think it is the most important. Just by living in a society together we benefit from each other all the time. No matter how hard you work you are not doing on your own.

    I think a mistake a lot of people make is to think you are either doing it on your own or you are getting it for free and you don't have to work at all. But really, if you have connections it might be easier to get the job, but you still have to be qualified. And if you do get the job with help of connections, you still have to keep the job, and you get promotions and such on your own.

  • @bogopolis says:

    Hey Ron – always appreciate your articles. I'm 27 and I live in New York (which is a very 'do it on your own' city) and I've noticed that I often feel guilty about leveraging my network because it's intimidating to ask people for help, particularly when they may not be invested initially. Can you recommend (or have you in the past recommended) any tactics for approaching people who may be able to help but who may feel like the initial request is too much of a burden?

    • ronedmondson says:

      For some reason this went to Spam. I would start small. Ask someone if you can buy them coffee, or breakfast, or lunch, depending on their schedule. Then if it goes well, ask again. Kinda like dating.
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  • Kari Scare says:

    I would love to rely on my parents to help me, but they don’t offer. Never really have. My mom helps with my kids when I ask, but it’s usually based on my initiative. For this reason, I am hoping my boys know that I am someone they can always rely on. I hope to always be able to help them in healthy ways.
    Twitter: KariScare

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