1. to help oneself without the aid of others; using one’s own resources.
She spent years bootstrapping herself through college.
2. to succeed only by one’s own efforts or abilities.
I admire him for pulling himself up by his own bootstraps.
In today’s team-based cultures, we can’t lose sight of the need for bootstrapping. Those who have built something from scratch know what I’m talking about. Those who have done much with very little understand.
As much as I enjoy working in teams and committees, as much as I value the contribution of teammates, as much as I appreciate the concept of synergy, i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, there are times when I realize I have to “get it done” with just me. I have to “will my way” through it for the greater good.
- No one is going to help me.
- There is no place to hide.
- Success or failure depends solely on my performance.
- I have to stretch my comfort zone.
- I have to do the work someone else should be doing.
- I have to keep a calm, clear mind and steady, positive attitude.
- I have to carry the ball across the goal line with defenders on my back.
Sometimes it’s not pretty, but I can’t be concerned about style-points. The outcome is binary, success or failure, and failure is not an option.
I’m not sure if I have the bootstrapping gene in my DNA, but I’ve certainly witnessed and admired the behavior in others my whole life. I’ve been practicing it so long that it’s second nature to me now. However, events of this week were a reminder that not everyone has an appreciation of or tendency for it.
That said, I believe bootstrapping can become part of the fabric of an organization by developing people to embrace it. I’m committed to doing my part by leading by example.