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Who’s in your support team?

Or do you even have one? 

I’ve listened to many educated, professional people who are very capable members and leaders of teams. They are used to working with groups of people, managing conflict and project managing to desired ends. They more than pull their weight and expect, support, encourage and teach others to do the same. But sometimes these roles can be quite lonely ones. Being in a senior management team or a project team can be a very purposeful and worthwhile experience but this isn’t always the same thing as having access to a great support team. 

Some of us find fantastic support in our family and friends. But I have met many (actually, thinking about it, I would say most) people for whom that is not quite the case, even when that social circle is loving and warm. Sometimes these familiar characters in our lives can actually hold us in patterns of behaviour that might not serve us as well as they might. Sometimes you might find that you are providing the support more than being a recipient. Sometimes there are all manner of other helpful, unhelpful, or even harmful things going on in family dynamics. With a significant dose of bafflement usually added in. 

Social support is so key to human thriving that it is implicated in just about every well-being measure known to woman and man. The people I consider to be the most bold and wise that I meet or read about or listen to nearly always consciously put time and energy into developing their own support team – in addition to whoever they may have been lucky enough to stumble across or be landed with in terms of family and friends. They don’t consider it to be a luxury or an indulgence. They recognise that they are able to fulfil more potential of all varieties (creative, social, business, caring, family and more) if they have the right support in place. 

Recognising exactly what that means isn’t an easy first step. Some of it might be practical – knowing a good plumber for instance, or a reliable car mechanic. We’re often most comfortable with this concept. Some of it might be about challenging us to go further than we might otherwise in particular areas, and be particularly focused on developing our skills – a teacher for a creative hobby, or a trainer or coach in a sport. Again, we may hesitate in the decision to take this up for financial reasons, and because it’s often plain scary.

And some of the support we might need could be emotional in a way that our nearest and dearest are unable to provide. There are many ways of putting this in place. There are support groups (named as such or not) for every type of situation (or start one of your own). Some support groups are informal and not named as such (I’d estimate that my reading group is about 50% book and 50% parenting support group. None of us would have signed up for the latter but it creeps in anyway. Very usefully at times, I might add.). Some are business related or relate to specific professions. Some people actively seek a mentor. Some of my clients tell me that coaching – independently of their organisation – gives them opportunities they don’t otherwise get to focus on their own needs and decisions, within the context of their job and organisation. 

What is the right support for you? What do you hold back on because you feel daunted in some way, but the right support could un-daunt you? What could take the over out of overwhelmed (none of us want to be underwhelmed, so this must follow that the ideal place is to be whelmed. When did you last feel whelmed?!) (as an aside, why are the words to do with these states so weird?).

What support could simply put the wind in your sails?