The Critical Friend

Alex MitchellI listen to a Podcast that a former colleague produces. Alex Mitchell is a prolific networker and is involved in so many initiatives to help people and business. He is hugely connected in the world of business, especially start-ups and small businesses. He is always looking to learn and share. In fact, he’s one of those people who must have 30 hours a day and an 8 day week.

Earlier this year, Alex launched his own podcast to seek and share advice from and for business leaders. I wanted to share a few ideas from one particular episode when Alex interviewed Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, the multi gold medalling Paralympian, world record holder and London Marathon winner. She is now a member of the House of Lords and hugely active in championing disability rights.

Tanni actually spoke at BNI’s Directors’ Conference a few years ago and so many members will remember how inspirational she was.

In this podcast episode, Tanni and Alex discuss the need for having a strong team around you, but especially those critical friends in tough times.

Tanni Grey ThompsonOne particular story that Tanni shares relates to her experience after the Paralympics in Athens when the medal return didn’t go quite as expected. We should mention that she still won a gold medal and three silvers – not exactly a poor set of results!

When she returned from Athens however she was told by people that she had failed and that retirement was the next step for her. As she went through this process she knew that decisions of this magnitude should not be made in haste or alone. Both Tanni and Alex discuss how it is in times of difficulty and when the chips are down that you see who hangs around.

People often lend support and encouragement to successful people, wanting to be part of a positive trend but, when the going gets tough, many ‘friends’ disappear. Tanni talks about the need to listen to those friends who hang around and stick by you. Those critical friends who may deliver tough messages but have your best interests at heart.

There is much more to this episode and what Tanni has to say, so please listen to it (the link it at the end of this article), but I want to conclude by issuing this challenge to you as a business leader.

2020 has been difficult for us all. Some businesses have been fortunate but many others have faced challenges of the like never seen before. When you look at your network, are you surrounded by people who will ask the challenging questions of you or tell you things you may not want to hear?

In difficult times it is easy to hide, look for easy answers or even give up. If there is one thing that Tanni epitomises, it is resilience and I’d encourage you to think about how you and your business battle through tough times. Make sure you share your challenges, ask questions that you may be afraid to and surround yourself with friends and colleagues that care and are with you in good times and bad.

Any BNI members will know of the strength that the BNI community offers but for anyone who is reading this as a non-member, we’d love to welcome you to a meeting to find a bit more about how BNI works, not only to grow business through referrals but to act as a support network of like-minded peers.

If you’d like to listen to this podcast and others from Alex, click here.




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