There are many types of support systems – and they may or may not serve your best interests.
“It is a skill to be able to establish, maintain, and effectively utilize a support system,” insists Charles N. Seashore, author of What Did You Say? The Art of Giving and Receiving. He adds, “As with all relationships, support systems can be difficult to establish, counterproductive and disappointing at times, and somewhat unpredictable.”
A support system can meaningfully contribute to the success of an individual or an organization, but healthy systems of support embrace integrity and hold one another accountable to established standards. They act as mirrors of their collective vision, mission, and core values.
Seashore explains that support systems require energy to sustain. If members within a support system tolerate behaviors that conflict with their core values, they can become crutches that enable crippling, self-defeating behaviors rather than empower you with the tools and confidence you need to experience success.
Members of your support system are the cheering section who is in your corner. They celebrate your success. They encourage you to be your best. They stand behind you when it’s rainy and cold; they rally behind you when the going gets tough.
As Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach of the Green Bay Packers, once said, “It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenges and does something about it.” Lombardi understood the value of passion, of commitment to a goal, of team spirit. He recognized the deep significance of an individual player and their relationship to the team.
Surround yourself with people who eagerly encourage you and celebrate your success. In my book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, I explain how to build a healthy cheering section and create supportive relationships:
• Find a mentor or accountability partner. Reach out to someone who has a similar goal. Share your progress at regularly scheduled times to discuss goals, celebrate accomplishments, and hold each other accountable for completing goal-related tasks.
• Join a mastermind group. The term, “mastermind group,” was first coined by Napoleon Hill in his book, Think and Grow Rich. Participants in a mastermind group brainstorm and support one another. They hold one another to individual and group commitments. Similar to accountability partners, mastermind group members collaboratively share new ideas, offer fresh solutions, provide honest feedback, and encourage one another as they pursue their goals.
• Network with others. Find a group with members who share your professional or goal-related interests. Many groups and organizations have well-organized and detailed directories that promote networking events and attract new members. Local Chamber of Commerce groups, libraries, and community centers provide information and resources within your community.
• Discover on-line networking groups. Most reputable networking groups have strong on-line platforms. Many social media groups provide opportunities for individuals to build a professional on-line presence and network with other like-minded individuals with shared hobbies, interests, and professions. A growing number of groups and communities network through video meetings and web conferences. Cloud platforms allow you to share files with others and manage projects as a collaborative group.
Dr. Gail Matthews, psychology professor at Dominican University of California, conducted a study to learn how commitment affected successful goal achievement. She found that individuals who (1) expressed their goals in writing, (2) developed action statements, and (3) held themselves accountable to a friend, colleague, or mentor were 76% more likely to experience success than those whose goals were cloaked in daydreams.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, agreed there was meaningful value in sharing your goals with another person. “The momentum picks up if you tell someone your goal,” he added. “The act of stating your goal creates a sense of accountability for its completion.”
You don’t necessarily need a cheering section, but participation in a healthy group with individual and collective goals offer valuable opportunities to reflect upon your past as you evaluate your progress, inspire and motivate you today, and provide opportunities to celebrate as a team in the future. The rallying support of a cheering section builds your confidence and fills you with the enthusiasm and stamina needed to reach future goals.
“Your playing small does not serve the world.” insists Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love. She adds, “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Inviting others into your playing field increases your chances of winning. Strive for success – and celebrate it with your home team.
Who is in your cheering section?