I was four, according to family lore, when I started going door to door in our Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, subdivision, knocking on doors. When the mom would come to the door, I’d say, “My name is Chris, and I can wipe myself, tie my own shoes, make my bed, and put my hair in a ponytail. Can I have a cookie?” I got a lot of cookies. One of the moms called and told my mom, and she put a sign on me that read, “Please do not feed.” When I asked her what it said, she replied, “It says, ‘Hi, my name is Chris.’” Talk about an example of betrayal, but that’s for another day.
The next day, I went to the house that had the best cookies, and when the mom came to the door, she said, “I’m sorry, Chris. We don’t have any more cookies.”
“You had a whole jarful yesterday,” I replied. “Where did they go? Can we go and check?”
Fast-forward to many decades later. I speak and mentor people about how to succeed in business or a passion that has an endgame. I have developed over the last few years a certainty that those who are the most successful have formed a posse. They each have their own posse, at their own watering hole, who raise their execution of what they need to do to get to the finish line. In return, they do the same for those around them. The people who are in your posse will determine your success. Have you chosen well? Are they bringing something to your table that you don’t already have, or a vision that is outside your wheelhouse? Do they tell you the truth? Do they accept your truth when you are examining their futures? And, and, and. I am actually considering writing a book about how to develop the right posse for each and every goal on your table: Building your family. Succeeding at a personal-development change. Excelling in business.
I teach the tenets of how to do this, and the feedback I’ve received affirms, “You were right, sister.” The process calls for evaluating the people around you thoughtfully and with a discerning eye and giving the time you have — the precious time that is our most valuable commodity — to those who raise you up and those you believe you can raise as well.
So at the end of 2022, I decided with my friend to have a phone conversation at the beginning of the year ahead. In it, we’d go through our posse: those who are in it, those we wish were in it, and those who we would love to include if everyone in the world was dying to be at our private watering hole.
I sat down to write out my posse.
Then it hit me. I have dozens of people for whom I provide value and input and time, but I do not have a posse who does the same for me. I am in a number of posses but my watering hole is pretty sparse. After almost a week of consideration, I have four people in my entire posse. Four.
I never (I debated using the word never because it’s so absolute, but it’s the right word in this context), never ask anyone to help me in business — or, really, anywhere. This is not to be confused with not having people who would help and counsel me if I asked. It’s all on me.
I thought back to that four-year-old child who clearly had been taught that self-sufficiency is the goal and that would help her reap the rewards of life. One of the things I like about myself is that I learn lessons well and rarely forget them. With the exception of managing my irritation, I do not often make the same mistake twice.
I have spent the last few days reviewing my posse. The one I want to have. The people I know who would gladly help me if I were to ask them for help. And I have been practicing ways of asking people for things, not with a promise of something in return, but just because I could use their counsel.
My neighbors, for example, are very giving people. We are always busy giving to each other, and I value that. I asked them this morning to take me to the periodontist later this month. “Of course!!!” was their reply. They told me they were going under their house this afternoon; something about duct work clean up. I started researching the Chilean rescue team for the mining people that were trapped just in case they didn’t return in a reasonable amount of time. We have each other’s back. They are in my posse. I hope they consider me in theirs.
I’m excited about building my own watering hole this year. And, to that four year old so many years ago? “You are amazing.”
--Christine Merser, Managing Partner, Blue Shoe