Set the Rope on Fire: Getting Everyone On Board

Set the Rope on Fire: Getting Everyone On Board

When it comes to relationships I like to compare them to rowing a boat. You have some people in the boat who are what I call “Rowers”. These people have the oars in their hands and they’re making things happen, they’re doing all of the work to move the boat where it needs to go. Then you have “Passengers”, who are in it for the ride. They may provide some moral support but they’re not really putting in any effort to help. And, then you have the “Anchors” who aren’t in the boat at all. Instead, they’re at the bottom of the boat actively working against you to drag you down. 

If you want to generate forward momentum, you must identify those anchors and work to let them go or either get them back on board. Either way, having them work against you will only serve to slow you down or halt your movement altogether.

For the anchors, you want to put timeframes on how long they have to get back into shape, meaning begin to be a productive part of the relationship or team again. Imagine they are climbing back into the boat by using a rope. I always say, set the rope on fire, so they know you expect them to get moving or they will not have the opportunity to stay. This is true for your business and for your personal relationships. If people aren’t carrying their weight, they are dragging you down and if they aren’t willing to step up then you have to let them go.

Now, the passengers who are passive participants in the process also have to be dealt with. They’re doing the bare minimum, but still reaping the benefits of what the rowers are doing. For the passengers in your relationships, you want to motivate them to become rowers and do more to help you build progress. But, keep in mind, some of them may jump in and grab an oar to help once you give them an ultimatum, while others may be content with being a passenger. The key is for you to understand what you need and be sure you are clear on your expectations for your relationships. And, when people are not holding up their end of the bargain, you have to be comfortable with letting them go — otherwise, your boat may capsize.

This week I challenge you to find those people and relationships in your life and identify who may be rowers, who may be passengers, and who are anchors holding you back. Once you know who they are, you can put a plan in place to address how you need things to change.

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