A support network refers to those people in your life who want the very best for you and try to help you achieve your personal and professional goals. Think of it as a bit like creating a personal brand for a business. To be successful you would want the best team possible in your business – and your personal life should be no different. You should be surrounding yourself with like-minded people, who want the best for you and will support your decisions and aspirations.
They should help you grow and develop, to reach your full potential. Anyone who is stepping in the way, or creating obstacles for you is not a valuable team member and it may be time to take a good look at what ties you to them. Certainly if it is a family member then this is a difficult situation since they will always be your family member – but they don’t have to have a tight hold over what you are doing and where you are going in life. A firm word to suggest that they back down may be enough to stop the situation from escalating. It can certainly be very challenging if you need to confront someone about their behaviour with regards to your personal growth and the support you feel you need, but the alternative is to struggle along, trying to keep the peace and never really fully realising your true potential.
Recognise those who may be pulling you down with their negative outlook. Such people can end up being a toxic part of your life and it may be necessary to take stock and decide whether these are people you really want to be around. Those who regularly pour cold water on your ideas and aspirations, or who pull back from offering you their support may have less of your considerations in mind and more of their own. Jealousy can unfortunately rear its ugly head when those who feel less able are in the company of those they perceive to be “luckier” than them.
Your support network is really a team of cheerleaders, as we talked about in the previous blog – each rallying for one another and cheering you on as much as you cheer them on. Each individual can offer a different role in your life; for example, someone may be a great listener, another person may excel at writing skills, which could help you put a resume together. Recognise the people who are already in your life, and the strengths and skills that they possess, who may provide help when you need it. Developing friendships should not be a one-way street of course. Friends are not just there to support you in your endeavours, but should be a mutual connection of fun, connection, support and positivity. No-one wants to feel they are being used.
YOUR SOCIAL CIRCLE
Cheerleaders help each other to raise their performance, to encourage you to stay away from the junk food, to push out that last rep, to get to the gym when the weather is cold and miserable and you would rather stay tucked up in front of the fire. You get the picture. Whilst it can be disappointing to find that your existing social circle is not particularly geared towards the type of support you require, this does not mean that this is the end of your team efforts. There are many other ways to find your team. Joining a local fitness class is a great way to mix amongst like-minded folk, and if you can befriend someone who lives near you then sharing a ride can help you both to stay motivated to attend classes.
Take a look at yourself – and those around you. What are the dreams, hopes and goals amongst you all? Can you be supportive of others and ask for support from those you love? Ask yourself what you can do to help them – and you may find that you are on the receiving end too.
As Simon Sinek says: “A team is not a group of people who work together, a team is a group of people who trust each other”.
It is amazing how we become the product of those we surround ourselves with. Finding like-minded people to be part of your social circle is perhaps more important than you realise. According to Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD and James Fowler, PhD in their book “Connected”, your friends’ friends’ friends’ affects everything you feel, think and do. Therefore, if your friends don’t exercise, it is more likely that you won’t either. If your family eat junk food, there’s a better chance that you will too. Conversely, if you mix with health conscious friends, you will be much more likely to be healthier. But even those further removed (ie your friends’ friend) can influence your behaviour. As part of a wider social network we are affected by the world around us, to the extent that events that happen halfway across the world, happening to people we do not know, can impact our lives, causing us to change our behaviour.
So, as you look more closely to home, and those who form your social network, think about what it is that you value and what you consider to be important factors in your life. Choosing people with a similar outlook is far more likely to keep you on your path than those who vary wildly. Perhaps, though, you feel you would like to change some of your habits, to ones you perceive to be “better”, or healthier. Surrounding yourself with people who have those principles at their core will better enable you to make those changes. It is the same idea as encouraging adolescents who have fallen in with ‘the wrong crowd”, and end up falling foul of the law, to change their social environment, and start mixing with teenagers who are not criminally minded.
And because you want to be part of a successful team, make sure that you support your friends. Listen to their ideas, go to their events, share their posts, celebrate their victories, help them to learn from their failures. A little support goes a long way in someone’s life.
We rise by lifting others.