Friday, November 10, 2023

The Importance of Building a Support System


I was leading my weekly team call on Zoom last night with a bunch of my Summit Coaching clients and friends. The topic for the call was "The Importance of Building a Support System". We had a robust talk about it so I thought I would turn it into a blog post and try to extend the message to a few more people. 

A good support system is critical for just about anything we are trying to tackle in life. You've heard the saying "It takes a village". I believe that applies to way more than just raising a family. Whether you are an entrepreneur, employee, mom, dad, brother or sister, life will be better for you if you have your PEOPLE - the group that you reach out to when the shit hits the proverbial fan. 

During our call tonight I outlined five different ways that having a good support system can benefit you.

1.    Emotional Support:

A support system provides a network of friends, family, or colleagues who can offer emotional support during challenging times.They provide a safe space for you to express your feelings, thoughts, and concerns, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Have a shitty day? It's nice to have someone that'll just listen - not necessarily try to fix. 

2.    Stress Reduction:

This is a big one for me. Stress can be a killer. A strong support system can help you manage and reduce stress. By sharing your burdens with supportive individuals, you can alleviate the emotional weight of stressful situations.

3.    Enhanced Resilience:

One day at a time right? Supportive relationships can increase your resilience in the face of adversity. When you face setbacks or obstacles, a support system can bolster your confidence and help you bounce back more effectively. And remember, it's not how many times you fall down, it's how many times you get back up that matters.

4.    Problem Solving:

Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. Your support system can offer diverse perspectives and solutions to problems you encounter. They can act as a sounding board for ideas, provide guidance, and offer valuable insights to help you make informed decisions. Having a variety of people you can consult can make all the difference.

5.    Professional Growth:  A support system within your professional network can lead to career opportunities and development. Mentors, colleagues, and industry connections can offer guidance, introduce you to relevant opportunities, and help you advance in your career. Opportunity comes in strange packaging sometimes. Having the right people in your corner can expose you to some things that you might otherwise miss out on.

A strong support system not only enhances your emotional well-being but also contributes to your resilience, problem-solving abilities, and professional growth. It is an invaluable resource for navigating life's challenges and pursuing your goals. 

OK, now that we know what a strong support system can do for us, let's talk about a few ways to build our own. Here are some things to consider when putting together YOUR support system. I call them "The Seven G's"

1.    Goals. It always comes back to goals with me doesn't it? lol. But seriously, without a clearly defined set of goals, how can you put together an effective support system? So let's make sure those goals are specific, measurable and time-bound. Getting super clear on your goals will help you assemble the right support system. 

2.    Gravitate. Move toward people that share your vision. Surrounding yourself with like minded people who understand your journey is key. On a professional level this might mean joining a networking group, attending events or leveraging online platforms to meet like-minded individuals. I always say that you are what you surround yourself with. This definitely comes into play when putting together your support system. 

3.    Give and Take. It's been said that there are givers and takers in this world. The takers eat better but the givers SLEEP better. Be a giver. It's amazing what a little reciprocity will do for you. I believe that we tend to get back what we push out. Try it and see. Offering support to others can strengthen your own network.

4.    Be Generous. Coach John Wooden said "You can't truly have a great day until you have done something for someone else without expectation of something in return". Offer your expertise. Support others. Pure and simple generosity can have a positive impact on building your support system. 

5.    Genuine Connections. It's important that these relationships are authentic. One of the ways to ensure that there is authenticity in the relationship is through transparency and vulnerability. We can't help one another if we don't know what the whole deal is. That's why it's important to have trust and know that when you share something with someone in your support system it stays between the two of you. Through active listening and staying engaged, you can build some genuine relationships that will serve you well.

6.    Growth Mindset. This is a non-negotiable. People in your support system need to have a growth mindset, as do you. This will help discussions stay on the positive side. You want people in your circle that will call you on your shit. I have people that say to me "well, that's just sounds like a bunch of excuses, let's talk about what the real issue is". When you have people like that in your life, you are automatically held to a higher standard. As I mentioned before, it is hard to do this thing called life by yourself. Get your people, vocalize your issues and lean in. You'll be surprised how much better you'll feel. Seek out opportunities for growth, whether it be industry events, personal development outings, or just plain being around people who are in a growth mode. We are never done.

7.    Gratitude. It's important to regularly acknowledge the people that help you. Be grateful. Show appreciation. It's not hard and it goes a long way. It doesn't have to be a grand gesture. Just something simple. Things that I regularly say are "I appreciate you", "Thanks for the effort", "Thanks for all that you do". And the toughest one... "I LOVE YOU". I tell my best friends that all the time and (shocker) no one comes and collects my man card afterward either. 

So there you have it. As I mentioned, we had a good talk about this stuff and everyone was able to chime in on what their own support system looks like and where it needs work. Audit your own support system. Write down who these people are and what they bring to the table. Are they adding to the equation or taking away? Both are fine, but on the path of personal development we need to make sure that we have a group of people we can lean on that we know will be there through the good times and the bad. Don't be afraid to make adjustments, I'm not saying write people out of your life. I'm just saying that it helps to take a look at who you are spending the most time with and what you are both getting out of it.

Lastly, we are the givers, right? So ask yourself this. Who's support system AM I a part of? If you can't answer that question then get busy investing in others and watch what happens. 

And don't let me catch you just being a taker. 😉 Build your group, your PEOPLE, your tribe. It's healthy, we need it. 

We can't do this alone.

Be the example.


Monday, November 6, 2023

Scary Goals, The Peanut Gallery and THE EDGE

I was in Vegas last month at a personal development event. A bootcamp, working on getting better at everything. One of the speakers took us through a goal setting exercise and we were asked to set five professional and five personal goals for 2024 that scared the shit out of us. So naturally, having recently signed up for Ironman Lake Placid 2024 I wrote "IMLP 2024" as one of my personal "scary" goals. We were asked to pair up with the person next to us and share in the process of developing these scary goals. The speaker gave us a few minutes to work through this and as we did he walked around the room, stopping briefly to chat with folks. When he came to me I was just making a big X through "IMLP 2024" on my paper. I was like the kid having trouble with the sample question on the test. He asked me what was up...why was I crossing that one out? I said, "because it's doesn't scare me". He just kind of looked at me and nodded and smiled. That was the moment when I knew that I wasn't going to accept less than my best from myself going forward. It may have sounded like a dick comment but in reality, I have done IMLP three times so no, it's not scary. It definitely gets my attention but it doesn't scare me. SO, it didn't make the list. 

So, make your goals scary ones. Don't go short and don't protect yourself. Burn the boats, screw Plan B and go for it. All of that shit. The interesting thing about goal setting is that to truly set a meaningful goal we need to risk failure. So if we are going to risk failure why not set a big scary goal? What's the difference between failing a little and failing a lot? Sure the peanut gallery will have their fun telling you why you should have played it safe but no one that ever did something great ever listened to those guys. They play from the bench - where it's safe. They never lose, but they never win either. Be careful how much and with whom you share these big fat scary-ass goals because sometimes it can douse your fire. The only person that needs to believe in you is YOU. Validation from others is not necessary. Something I have only recently stopped doing is looking to others for inspiration or guidance to accomplish my big scary goals. FK that. I got this shit and I am going Full-Send at them in 2024. It took some straight talk from a close friend but I am now realizing that I am the ONLY one qualified to realize MY dreams. Don't look for validation from others. You don't need it. Everything you need is already in you.

Over the last year I have worked hard to develop my "message" as I have jumped into the coaching world. I knew that I wanted to inspire and motivate people, to help them through tough stuff and help them do hard things. But I needed a couple of words to sum it all up. During a session with one of my coaches I was talking about all the things I wanted to do with my clients and the events I wanted to offer and he said "there are a lot of Summits in your vernacular". I think that is where I got the name for the coaching business. Summit, I liked it. It worked. Done. Then, in another conversation with my other coach I was rambling on about how I like to push people out of their comfort zones and get them to go beyond where they thought they could go. He said, "you know, what I hear when you speak is a real EDGE. You take people to The Edge." And that was it, I found my two words that I could build around. 

The Edge. I like it. I'll run with it. It works. Stay tuned, I am working to put on an event here in Southern Maine called The Edge and I'll be announcing details soon. I want to bring something to Southern Maine where people can come together and get healthier mentally and physically. Ever since the wrath of Covid I feel like we have all been running in quicksand. Time to start doing something about it. Mahatma Gandhi said "Be the change you wish to see in the world". I intend to be the example of the change and will be working to do my part in 2024. 

They say everyone has at least one book in them. 

The Edge.