*This is an excerpt from my book, 13 Challenges.
It was my first class in graduate school, and I was sitting among my peers, ready to learn. Our professor entered the classroom and gave us all an assignment. She said, “Tell me who’s a part of your support system.” While some classmates listed a number of people, I had a hard time coming up with my list. I knew that I had family and friends who supported me in life, but it was hard for me to explain the specific roles that each person played, or how they exactly supported me outside of listening to me vent or offering advice from time to time. My professor never told us how many people needed to be in our support system, but he really made our class reflect on the relationships in our lives and what they meant to and for us.
In order to succeed in life, we all need a support team. Now, when giving talks either to a group or to individuals, I always ask people to tell me about the people on their support team. I have discovered that I hear one of two main things when I receive an answer from people: 1) everyone has people on their team, but they don’t always know that person’s purpose (and it’s usually family and friends on their team), or 2) there’s no one on a person’s team. Therefore, most people are going through life with people surrounding them, but they may not know each person’s role in their life.
While having family and friends on your support team is good, you need to know the role that they play in your life, and there should be people outside of family and friends who are a part of this support system. This could be colleagues, people in the community, and/or others from various social circles. Over the years, this list will grow, but start with a least five people whom you can confide in and receive direction from. These five people, otherwise known as The Incredible 5, should have specific roles on your team. They do not have to be friends with one another because that is not the point. The point is for you to have a select group of people who contribute to your life’s direction and purpose. So, let’s look at who these people are:
The Incredible 5
There are 5 people you need on your list.
- The Cheerleader- this is the person who’s always in your corner, regardless of the circumstance. This person believes fully in your capability and is ready and willing to throw those pom-poms in the air every time you embark on a new adventure in life.
- The Coach- this is your guide. Some people call this person your mentor. Your coach is someone who helps guide your path and keeps you focused on the big picture and end goal(s).
- The Devil’s Advocate- this is not a negative person, but someone who doesn’t mind challenging you. Are you sure you want to fly to Hawaii for a five-day vacation when you just started your job? Why don’t you wait until your scheduled vacation starts? This person loves you deeply, but isn’t afraid of you getting mad when they play devil’s advocate.
- The Listener- everyone needs a listener. This is someone who may not comment at all, but just let you talk. You can vent, dream, and even answer your own questions. It doesn’t matter because this person is happy to let you voice your worries and/or opinions, and this person realizes that talking things out is powerful.
- The One with Childlike gusto (AKA ‘the child’) – This one is my favorite because this person keeps you excited about life. ‘The child’ is the one who is successful, but may not have gone the traditional route. This person encourages you to take risks, and play hard. This person never lets you forget that your life is interesting and you have something to be excited about.
In my case, everyone on my team doesn’t know they’re a part of it, and they don’t have to. That’s not the point. The point is to have reliable people who you can go to when you need them.
So, who’s on your support team? If you don’t have one, then you already know what your task is: create a support team. List them by name and role.