One of the problems of working for yourself is that you don’t have the same kind of daily interaction you do when you work in a traditional business. Having said that, one of the similar things you have when working for yourself is that often you feel as though you don’t have anyone you can talk to on an equal basis.

When I was a manager, every once in a while I felt the need to go talk to somebody else. I knew it had to be someone at an equivalent level is mine because I knew those people would have some of the same issues that I had. It was strange to find out later on that this wasn’t something that came natural to everybody else. Once I broke down the barriers people would come to me to talk, but it was very rare for management level people to go to each other for support.

Over time, I learned that people would always be worried that someone else would think them weak, or think that they didn’t know what was going on. Unfortunately, many times these people didn’t know what was going on, and they could’ve used a device of someone who might have better leadership or better skills working with employees and their peers than they did. In my own way, I think I sought out these people for their good as much of my own.

Everybody needs some kind of support system. As an individual consultant, I belong to a consulting group where we meet at least once a month to discuss some kind of issue. It’s also a place where I get a little bit of camaraderie with others who do what I do. In a sense, it’s like being back in a traditional office environment for at least 90 minutes, where we talk about some business and talk about personal things as well.

Overall, managers don’t have support groups. For that matter, neither do employees. Sure, in some organizations there’s a union, but except for union stewards you very rarely hear of an employee considering a union meeting as a support group.

What do you do when you need a support group? Do you have friends that you can talk to? What about family members? Are there trade groups for what you do that you can go to, and get a directory so that you can call those people up when you need someone to talk to? Are there networking groups you can join that can bring you that kind of peace? Are there clubs you can join where people have similar interests to yours?

No one has to go at it alone. If you have the money, you can hire someone like me or my friend Steve Borek, both of whom do executive coaching. Steve even does life coaching; I do that on the fringe. There are counseling groups if you need something more extreme. But you might not have to go that far. Something I’m working on is trying to come up with what is known as a “mastermind” group. This is a small number of independent business people who try to get together one day a week to discuss issues, offer suggestions, or just to be an ear for somebody to express their frustrations. Anyone can do this, and I encourage it for everybody.

And for those that need it, just don’t drink too much. 🙂
 

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