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5 Reasons Why You Should Avoid the “work Alone” Mindset

Preye Raymond is a leading content writer who enjoys a blend of pragmatism in his self-help topics.


The thought of working alone or doing everything ourselves feels invigorating to our ego because we enjoy getting things done exactly the way we want them.

But working alone can be an impediment. A late preacher in my former local church always emphasized in his sermon that “everyone needs help, doesn't matter who you are, we all need help”. As thrilling and satisfying as it is to think that you can do everything yourself, increasingly it can become overwhelming, lonely, and frustrating as you strive towards achieving success and improving productivity

No Successful Story have Ever Featured One Man

Scan through the archives of great stories about; triumphs, mastery, and inventions, you would notice that the names attached to each great story didn't work alone in garnering their respective achievements.

Alexander the great of Macedonia didn’t acquire the knowledge of warfare and strategy all by himself. He was tutored by the archaic Greek philosopher Aristotle, who was hired by his father.

It was Aristotle who taught Alexander that for him to become a great monarch he had to conquer Asia. Aristotle's told Alexander;

Rule the Greeks as your equals, but treat all others like animals.”

Neil Armstrong was not the only man in the Lunar Module Eagle that landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969. He was accompanied by Buzz Aldrin who was the navigational pilot of the Lunar module. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, Buzz Aldrin also followed 19 minutes later.

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There is no success story throughout history and now, that has featured only one man. Regardless of how popular the names of Alexander and Neil are, they still had Aristotle and Buzz Aldrin featured in their story as characters who influenced and supported their accomplishments.

However, there was a story of one man who thought he could do everything himself-Howard Hughes Jr. After the premiere of the movie Hell’s Angels in 1930, Hughes said;

Making Hell’s Angels by myself was my biggest mistake. . . . Trying to do the work of twelve men was just dumbness on my part. I learned by bitter experience that no one man can know everything.”

Before he made this statement and before Hell's Angels premiered, Hughes fired over half of his production team and crew members so he could run the movie production himself.

He strove for absolute reality in the movie and fussed over every angle and every shot. Like anyone else, he wanted everything to come out 100%.

The movie itself was a hit. The flying scenes and action scenes fascinated audiences, but the movie lacked a proper storyline, and it consumed more than the original budget. The movie production cost was about $3.8 million, and it lost around $2 million.

Aside from the production of Hell's Angels, Hughes was a difficult person to work with. He was germaphobic (making it difficult for him to touch others), a perfectionist, and a martinet who wanted everything to be done his way, which for him was the best way.

In 1942, the U.S Defense Department awarded Hughes Aircraft a whopping grant of $18 million to build three large transport aircraft called the ‘Hercules’ to help carry soldiers and their supplies during the Second World War.

Consequently, the U.S airforce put in an order for one hundred photo-reconnaissance planes for $43 million, to be similarly configured like Hughes’ D-2 planes. The airforce was highly impressed by the sleek design of the D-2 and assured Hughes of more contracts after the configuration of the photo-reconnaissance planes.

Hughes hired a general manager to help with the Hercules project, and also help with the day to day operation of Hughes Aircraft company, but the general manager resigned after two months of working in Hughes Aircraft because Hughes kept on questioning his judgment, interfering, and changing his plans, and undermining his authority.

In 1943, $ 6 million out of the $9 million set aside for manufacturing the first plane of the Hercules was already spent, but the project was far from completion. In 1944 the delivery of the photo-reconnaissance planes have fallen behind schedule.

Some of the employees and management staff of Hughes Aircraft started leaving the company because of their boss's constant interference and distaste for their work.

Desperate, Hughes sought the help of one of the best aircraft manufacturers at the time -Charles Perelle, to help him work on the Hercules project. Perelle was reluctant at first to take the job, because of what he heard about the work environment in Hughes Aircraft. But with the promises of autonomy and Hughes's outstanding knowledge about designing airplanes, Perelle decided to work for Hughes.

Perelle went to work, but even with the autonomy Hughes promised him, Hughes kept on undermining and altering his reforms. This further increased the delay, and the delivery of both the Hercules and the photo-reconnaissance planes plummeted behind schedule.

After the second world war ended, the airforce canceled the contract of the planes, Perelle left Hughes Aircraft, and even Hughes himself disappeared from the company and from any public sighting. Later, ‘The Spruce Goose’ (which was supposed to be the first completed plane of the Hercules) was completed and flown by Hughes himself, but it was simply a public spectacle to hide Hughes's failure for not honoring his contract with the U.S Defense Department.

People who are difficult to work with usually experience short-term successes and also struggle with mental illnesses. Sure, Hughes was a billionaire but he wasn't particularly a good businessman and he lacked people skills. He lost more than he could have profited from every business deal and contract he had. His fear of germs,made it even more difficult for him to relate with people which resulted in severe mental breakdowns and self-isolation.

If you are a business owner, an entrepreneur, or an employee of a firm, you must master the ability to work with others. The ‘I work alone’ mindset only seems cool in fictional movies. In reality, you need to learn how to manage people and work with them because of these reasons;

1) Repeated Failures

When we work alone we are always doomed to repeat past failures. It takes another unique perspective to identify what the problem is and profer the right solutions.

However, those who prefer working alone, claim they know too much, and sometimes put off any unique suggestion or fresh opinion concerning the particular issue, for instance, when Hughes hired the expertise of Perelle, only to undermine his reforms later.

If you find yourself with such an attitude you need to readjust your thinking and learn how to take corrections from others, except you prefer to be stagnated by your challenges and errors.

Be receptive to ideas and expertise that can sustain your projects or business in the long haul, rather than trying things your way and getting recurring results.

2) Mediocrity

Working alone always creates room for mediocrity and half-witted achievements. Because one man controls the creative process, the outcomes of each product, service, or task always appear average or common.

When Perelle started working for Hughes Aircraft company, he noticed that most of the designs for the planes were shoddy and even outdated. He made it part of his reforms to change those designs. To become successful is not to become stale and mainstream. You must always make changes to upgrade your current processes and operations.

This is where working with others rejuvenates the chasm. They bring fresh ideas and knowledge on how to grow from 50% to 60%, and from 60 to 70. In contrast to doing everything yourself, your output may remain at 50% without you realizing it. Your products, services, brand, and activities would become common and unexciting to your audience. If not now, soon.

3) Fewer Opportunities

Working alone can shut several doors of opportunities that could further elevate you or your career. It is through our connection with others that we create opportunities. It is also through them that we gain access to useful information.

If you radicalize the ‘work alone’ mindset people would be skeptical to work with you or for you. They would also ensure they keep you in the dark on current opportunities or happenings that are profitable, and productive. According to the author R.M. Drake;

The right people will always bring out the best parts of you... They will bring out the sun and watch you bloom”.

4) Poor Charisma/Reputation

Self-improvement does not only rely on how you see yourself. It heavily relies on how others perceive you. Occasionally, It is easy for us to fool ourselves with the ‘i don't care what others think’ attitude, but the truth is, what others think can sometimes tell whether we are improving or not. And Most importantly - people’s opinions about us can build or destroy our reputation.

You can't call yourself a philanthropist or a charitable person when you've not been seen giving to the needy or the orphanage. You can't say you are healthy when people around you keep cautioning you to check your weight. You can't call yourself a charismatic leader or the boss of the year when your followers only chant such praises in front of you, but behind your back, they are secretly plotting to rebel.

The truth is, we are always responsible for how others view our personality. Indeed, we can't control their thoughts or opinions about us, but somehow we influence their thinking either through our first impression, or how we relate with them daily.

Those who don't like working with others are hardly reputable or charismatic. Perhaps, from a distance, they may appear charming and relatable, but when you get closer to them by trying to work with them, they reveal their true nature.

Those who haven't had the opportunity of working for Hughes may call him a charming, charismatic billionaire. But those who actually worked with him would say the contrary.

His business associates and employees would tell you he knows to much, and were not given enough room to work. When Hughes fired Luther Reed, one of the directors of Hell's Angels, Reed lasts words to Hughes were;

“If you know so much, why don’t you direct it yourself?”

His domestic workers may even tell you that he was a mad man because of how he locked himself up in his home cinema for four months, eating only chocolate and milk, and relieving himself in every empty milk bottle.

Because of how sensitive people are, if you make it obvious that their ideas or intelligence rebuffs you, or you are someone who likes working alone without help, gradually, they would abstain from you and form an opinion that could destroy your reputation. You would only know how deep your reputation and charisma have drowned when you eventually come around to ask for their help later.

5) Psychological illness

When you adopt the mindset of working alone, you stand the risk of developing some psychological problems in the long run.

First off, constantly working solitary results in self-isolation and loneliness which spirals into other mental issues such as; OCD, NPD, bipolar disorders, including mental stress, and depression.

There are other emotional distresses that comes with working alone too, for example, the issue of trust. It becomes difficult to trust people to do the right thing. And not that they can't deliver, but you don't trust that they can deliver to your satisfaction, or that they will fail totally.

Having trust issues is mentally and emotionally devastating because it does not only keep you isolated, but it creates room for unnecessary fear and anxiety of people you relate with, which can result in a series of nervous breakdowns.

Finally, there are several pros to working alone, but honestly, regarding this subject, the cons outweigh the pros on so many levels. I dwelled particularly on the cons because it is not ideal for anyone striving to achieve success in business (and self-improvement) to work alone, or possess poor people skills.

The best opportunities come when working with the right persons who can help you through your strive. You just have to keep looking for them or find ways to attract them to you.

Certainly, there are times when you need to pull up your sleeves and take matters into your own hands, but that should not corner you into thinking that people are unreliable therefore, you must do everything yourself, or you know more than everyone, or you can control everything. Harboring such a mindset can only stunt your growth, and produce short-lived achievements.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Preye Raymond

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