CEO Blog

Who’s Your Buddy?

Published on December 10, 2018 Back to blog
Jeff Freedman Scuba Diving

After trying (and enjoying) Scuba diving on several occasions, I recently decided to get certified. Last month, I completed the online courses and, over the last two weekends, did hands-on training in a local swimming pool. The experience has been fun, while also making very clear the potential dangers of the activity – and the importance of understanding the risks, following procedures and taking appropriate precautions. While I can compare many of the aspects of scuba diving to business/life, the one rule that stands out the most is the “buddy rule.”

In short, you can’t dive without a buddy. Your buddy is your always-available back-up and support in case you need help and/or anything goes wrong. From giving you a shoulder to lean on while putting on your fins to giving you air to breathe if you accidentally run out while deep underwater, your buddy is a critical part of diving safely and with confidence.

In business (and for that matter, life), it also helps to have buddies. While we may not be 60+ feet underwater, it can sure feel like we are sometimes. So, it doesn’t hurt to have someone by your side in case of emergency, while also boosting your confidence and providing moral support. So, today, I share some tips for choosing “buddies” at work and at home. 

  1. Make sure they can sufficiently perform the duties required – At work, I have several “buddies,” each of whom I trust in different situations based on their experience and skill set. I rely upon Amy for operational support, Sam for creative help, Allison for strategic guidance and many others, depending on the situation. However, I don’t think I’d ask any of them to be my buddy underwater (until/unless they get certified to do so.)
  2. Trust him/her to speak up and watch out for your best interests – I consider my wife my “life” buddy – being there for me for almost any situation (work or personal) – not only because I know she’s always there when I need her, but also because she has no problem speaking up when she thinks I may be making a mistake or bad decision (perhaps a bit too often, but…).
  3. Make sure he/she believes in you – While it’s OK for your buddy to question your decisions, you also want too make sure that they generally trust your instincts and share your core values. Otherwise, you will often be in conflict, questioning yourself (and decreasing your confidence) at every turn.
  4. Look outside your circles (and build new ones) – When I started Small Army, my partner, Mike, was my primary buddy for all major business decisions. However, after his passing, I found new buddies, through a CEO group (Vistage), upon whom I often rely upon for major business challenges and decisions. These CEOs have not only become friends, but have considerably expanded my network of colleagues (and potential buddies).
  5. Be a good, reliable buddy back – The buddy system is a two-way street. If you expect someone to have your back, you better be sure that you have theirs as well. This symbiotic relationship ensures that both you and your buddy(s) are always in a position to succeed.

So, if you every feel like you are under-water and at risk of running out of air (or even just getting a small leg cramp), be sure to find a buddy who can be there to support you and back you up in case of emergency. You will not only be safer in the long run, but also feel much more confident with your actions. And, if you ever need me to be your “buddy” for a situation, feel free to ask.

As always, please share your thoughts and comments with me here. And, if you know of anyone who may benefit from this (or other) posts, feel free to pass them along.

Happy holidays and all the best for 2019!

– Jeff