In the last post, I told you about a “failed” board-breaking attempt that I made as a part of the many tests I am going through for my next belt. As with many of the so-called “failures” in our lives, it’s only truly a failure if we don’t learn from it. In this case, I walked away with a whole slew of lessons. Some were about martial arts, but many applied to other areas of my life, including networking.

Yesterday, the lesson was about not bringing enough people to the task. Today is why that happened.

Lesson #2: Success comes in the long term.

I had fewer people holding my boards than I needed in order to have a successful break. In a demonstration like this, the breaker has a number of responsibilities: Choose the technique, purchase the boards, set up the holders, etc. This also includes making sure you’ve got your holders lined up ahead of time. If they aren’t in the school when you need them, then the rest of it falls apart.

This requires that you focus more long term. It wasn’t until that morning that I realized I had never spoken with anyone about holding for my break, just assuming that they would somehow magically show up.

Networking Lesson:
Making requests of your network takes time. The bigger the ask, the more time it will probably take.

We all run into challenges in our lives. Sometimes they seem so great that it puts us into survival mode. Maybe we lost our job, perhaps there’s an illness in the family, or possibly it’s something as simple as a newborn who won’t sleep through the night for more than the first year of her life, leaving you perpetually exhausted and fuzzy-headed (for a hypothetical example).

When we are in the midst of these challenges, we feel like we are walking on the edge of a cliff. We start looking very carefully at where we are placing each foot. A misstep could send us over the edge, so this makes perfect sense. The problem is, if we do it long enough, we start thinking that this is the way we are supposed to be all the time, even after the danger has passed. Unfortunately, if we are focused on each footstep, then we aren’t looking at the horizon to make sure that those steps are leading us toward our long-term goals and not into long-term trouble.

The real-world example of this is the entrepreneur who focuses on completing his short-term projects, pushing off his networking to “when he’s not busy”. Unfortunately, this ignores the fact that networking takes time to pay off. Instead, while he does need to devote time to those money-making efforts, he must also dedicate some time and effort (and usually not that very much, really) to:

  1. Maintaining his network. Weak connections can’t help as much as strong ones.
  2. Looking for ways to help his network. Helping them deepens the connections faster.
  3. Asking them to help. If they don’t know where he’s going, they can’t help get him there.
In order to achieve real success in our lives, we need to keep our eyes on the horizon. Our efforts today need to take us to those long-term goals of tomorrow. A powerful network can almost always bring you what you need, so long as you give it enough time to work.