In the Personal Development world, there is a lot of emphasis on personal power. You can take charge of your life! You can use the Law of Attraction to get what you want! You are the ultimate arbiter of your personal success or failure! Now all of this is true, of course, but I believe that all of the emphasis on personal power can obscure the value of working with other people, both for your own goals and for a common goal. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to find a team of people so that, yes, you can achieve your personal success – but you don’t have to do it alone.
No one succeeds alone
I think that I can say without qualification that anyone who has ever succeeded at anything did it with the help of others. Some of that help was informal (i.e. volunteered help), some more formal (like the help of a partner/spouse), and some very formal (a board of advisors, a success team, a mastermind group, a publicist). So when you have those moments when you’re wondering how so-and-so “did it”, you can bet that they probably had extensive help. We’re going to explore all the potential avenues of assistance in this article, so even if you feel isolated and alone in your personal development quest, you’ll discover that there are, in fact, many options available to you for contact with and assistance from other people.
Who’s already on your team?
Take a moment to assess your connection with other people. Do you have friends and/or relatives who support you no matter what? These are people who are receptive to your ideas, and who might even ask you what obstacles you face in an effort to help you figure out how to overcome them. This is your “informal” support network. Occasionally it might make sense to formally ask the RIGHT person in your informal support network to formalize his/her role as your “advisor” on particular matters. Personally, I find that most of my friends are very good at problem solving, especially when I ask them for assistance or advice about a particular situation. Often your friends will also know someone who might be able to help you in your endeavors.
Probably the most important factor in cultivating that kind of helpful, supportive relationship with your “informal support network” is making time, yourself, to be available to the people in your life. In other words – you assist them! Sometimes you do have connections that are all about that person helping you, but for the most part support needs to be a two-way street in order to maintain a healthy dynamic in your relationship. After all, these people aren’t solely in your life to help you – you’re also in each other’s lives to enjoy each other’s company, and for you to provide your own support when it’s required.
Who’s NOT on your team?
If there are people in your life who are not particularly supportive of you, simply on a “we honor who you are” level, then you might want to limit their influence on your life. An important aspect of putting your team together is for you to recognize when there is someone in your life who is holding you back – and to kick them off the team! OK, maybe you don’t actually have to literally give them the boot, but it WOULD make sense for you to limit the degree to which you make yourself vulnerable around that person.
Let’s say you’re thirsty, and there are three wells from which you can choose your drink.
One of those wells is empty. You know it’s empty because you’ve checked again and again – you’ve even gone to check after a torrential downpour and it’s STILL empty. Or maybe there’s just a muddy puddle at the bottom. Strangely, there are a few people hanging out around this well, all thirsty, all uncertain about what to do next. Maybe there’s a little scramble to try to get that muddy water at the bottom.
The second well is more-or-less full, but the water is tainted with something. You’re not sure what exactly impugns the purity of the water, but you DO know that whenever you’ve had water from that well in the past you haven’t felt very good afterwards. Perhaps you did something crazy, or just felt depressed, or even sick? You just know it ain’t right. What makes this well tempting, however, is that there are even more other people congregated around the well than well #1. They’re hanging out there feeling crazy, depressed, and sick – together! So there’s some fellowship involved, and even thought the consequences of drinking from that well are predictably less-than-ideal, you at least won’t have to go through the experience alone. And your thirst will be somewhat quenched.
There’s also a third well. This well is full of water that’s fresh, tasty, and pure. No side effects. In fact, when you drink from this well, you don’t just quench your thirst, you feel better, exhilarated, stronger than you were before. There are people who hang out around this well too, but they don’t spend too much time hanging out at the well. Just enough time to satiate their needs and catch up with old friends, before they’re off on their next adventure (either solo or as part of a team).
The people in your life are like these wells. When it comes to figuring out how to quench your thirst, isn’t the answer obvious?
If it were perfectly obvious, then there wouldn’t be so many people at the other wells. And we all are capable of spending time in the wrong place, whether it be through habit, addiction, or lack of awareness. But as soon as you’re aware of the effects of your choices, pursuing the less desirable choices creates a dissonance within you that demands resolution. Look for the fresh wells in your life. Enough said.
Need something more formal? Create a team!
It has never been easier to connect with people via the internet for the purpose of creating a team. For instance, there’s a forum website called “Personal Development Partners” that exists solely as a gathering place for people who are interested in Personal Development, where they can share ideas, ask questions, and (most importantly for this discussion) connect with others for creating teams and fostering each other’s mutual success. There are personal development eBooks available for members as well. Personal Development Partners is just one of the many sites devoted to the personal development community, all of which can be a great way to make connections with other like-minded people from all walks of life (and geographical locations). Welcome to all the PDP members who are visiting! You can discuss this article in this thread on the PDP forum.
If you’re looking for more of an in-person interaction, you can use a local bulletin board service (like craigslist.org – or post a notice at local coffee shops/libraries/etc.) to find other people in your community interested in getting together for a mastermind group or Success Team. You will be looking for people who are interested specifically in getting together for the purpose of helping each other succeed in their individual endeavors. Just make sure you keep the “wells” in mind as you talk to potential team members.
I am currently a member of a “mastermind” group with several other bloggers from around the country. We get together (online, using Skype for a conference call) on a regular basis to discuss each other’s goals, and to provide feedback, assistance, and (importantly) accountability. I was invited to join my group by another blogger whom I met at the Steve Pavlina NYC meetup this past November. It was a chance in-person meeting that has become a great friendship and led to my mastermind group. Additionally, we’re all members of Personal Development Partners. I guess you could say that I have my bases covered! 🙂
Have some money to invest? Hire your team!
Not sure what step to take next? Hire a Life Coach. Feeling really emotionally challenged by events in your life? See a psychological professional. Need advice about a particular matter? Find someone who specializes in that subject, and pay them an hourly rate to be your consultant. The beauty of a paid relationship is that your money is what you exchange for the other person’s wisdom – so there’s no need for you to feel like you’re taking more than you’re giving. You can trust that the professional has decided on a rate that allows them to feel fairly compensated for their time. And since the professional often deals with the same kinds of problems day in and day out, they can take some of the guesswork out of “what you should do” in a given situation. Just make sure that you find a person who is genuinely responsive to your individual questions. Remember the “wells”? They apply in this instance as well.
Gather your courage and ask the people who have succeeded already.
I touched on this technique in my article on how to get a job without any experience. Find someone in whose footsteps you’re following, and ask them a question or two about how they got to be where they are. Show some genuine interest in their path. Offer to take them to lunch. If there’s chemistry between the two of you, perhaps that person will offer to be a mentor, or at least someone you can call on with a question or two every so often. When the conversation eventually comes around to what YOU do, you can talk about what you’re trying to do – and that person’s innate desire to help will probably kick in. Additionally, if they like what you do then they might offer to help you get a little bit further along the road towards where you want to be.
Cultivate an open mind, a generous heart, and the desire to truly know other people.
You don’t want to go it alone, right? That’s why you’ve read this far. Spend some time assessing your approach to dealing with others. Do you accept people for who they are, or are you judgmental? Are you open and honest, or cool and unavailable? Are you forgiving, or do you hold grudges? In order to successfully find your team, you’re going to have to be a true friend to other people. Think about the qualities that you’re looking for in others, and make sure that you, yourself, are embodying those very qualities.
Get out into the world and meet people. You can chat people up in an online forum, or in line at the local coffee shop. Over time you will find the people with whom you really resonate (on a personal or professional level) – and those are the people who will be your teammates as you play the game. What game? Well, the game of life, of course. Or…(h/t to Freddie Mercury)
(If the embedded video isn’t working, you can click this link for some real entertainment, courtesy of YouTube.)
Hi Neil, GREAT post! So true, it is wonderful to work with others. Sometimes the seemingly simplest idea we cannot see because we are so close to the situation. I love the fresh wells and am grateful I have become aware of those empty and tainted wells and decided to stop drinking from them! Gratefully, Jenny
No, thank you! 😉