The Myth of Bootstrapping
I am issuing a challenge. The rules are simple:
In the modern vernacular, “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps” means “I have improved my situation with no outside help” or “I am a self-made man or woman.” The reality is, it is physically impossible to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Like blowing on the sail of the boat you are standing on—you are not going anywhere.
Bootstrapping is a dangerous myth that only serves to isolate and harm owners and entrepreneurs. The act of pulling on your own bootstraps demonstrates that reality. Go ahead and try right now. Stand up, bend over and grab the back of your footwear, then pull as hard as you can. This can wait for 60 seconds.
What happened? Did all that effort levitate you off the ground? If so, please take a video and send it to me--we will make millions! I would wager that, at best, you were locked in a fight between your legs and your back and arms or, at worst, you were pulling yourself towards the ground.
The physical, and embarrassing, situation you found yourself in is an outward manifestation of a mental state that believes the bootstrapping myth. If you believe that you can improve your life, your business, or your relationships with no outside help, you will actually find yourself becoming smaller and being under a greater deal of self-made strain. By yourself you are actually less.
Less aware of your environment.
Less responsive to opportunities.
Inevitably, your vision becomes focused on the hard realities of the ground and not the vast opportunities around you.
The very nature of bootstrapping limits the many facets of our lives to only the skills, abilities, and energy we bring to it. If we insist on trying to be and do everything for our business, our business will only ever be as big as we are. While there are myths of the super men and women who “do it all”, we mere mortals are best served by understanding that the entity we are building will need, and likely already does, more than we have to offer.
By the way, congratulations on bringing into existence something that requires more than your skill set—you are awesome!
I have a handpicked team of people that makes our firm more than I ever could have on my own. You can check them out at thewhitelawoffice.com.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Like you, I have the ability to do what my team is doing, but I also technically have the ability to perform my own surgeries—there is a large gap between ability and competence. My purpose in writing this is to share how I built my team and how my primary job became building, investing in, and leading the team that makes up our firm—our business.
What was the first step? Accepting the reality that I was holding my firm back from what it could become by limiting its growth to my skills and abilities.