Ralph's Blog
April 2018

"You didn't build that."

Why your achievements are never really just your own.

How do you get from where you are today to the place where you have a platform, an impact enterprise, that is financially viable, a constructive force in society, and a positive influence in the lives of the people it engages as stakeholders? How do you get to the place where your entrepreneurial efforts are communicating values such as humility, generosity, selflessness, care and love for the people personally and systemically?

Does anyone really get there on their own? Several years ago, the then President of the United States, Barack Obama, created a firestorm, especially among business owners, when he said, “If you've got a business – you didn't build that.

He went on to make the case that successful businesses require the participation of government in creating the infrastructure around them that makes success possible. But he also reminded his audience of this:

Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.”

Towards the end of his speech, Mr. Obama made an important concluding statement:

The point is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

At the Agathe Center for Entrepreneurship, we believe that greater success is found through building partnerships and teams. Every business or social entrepreneur needs people around them with complementary gifts and skills. It is challenging to build teams and to share power in partnerships.  It consumes time and energy. It can slow down decision-making as you work toward consensus. Still we find ourselves continually coming back to that oft-quoted African proverb: “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.

We help design and build enterprises for generational impact, for long-term influence. Rarely, if ever, does anyone get there alone. Partners and team members are needed.

From Building to Blessing is a resource created in conjunction with the Agathe Center for Entrepreneurship. Learn more →

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