NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge (2008)

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I’ve written a few times about the importance of having a network of support around you when you’re trying to navigate through life.  As social beings, to be completely self-reliant is not how we were designed and we are diminished if we don’t have others contributing to and sharing in our success.

However, I haven’t really defined the kinds of people who should be in your support crew, so that’s what I thought I should do today.

I’ve identified at least four different functions that you should think about having in your life to assist you in your journey.

Fire-lighters.  I have spoken about this category before in this post, but in short, fire-lighters are the kinds of people who have a contagious enthusiasm for life who leave you feeling energised and ready for action.  Any successful person should have a few of them in their life for those times when you feel flat and uninspired. 

I would also add that any successful person should be aspiring to be a fire-lighter for those around them.

Mentor or Coach.  Ideally this role should be filled by your manager, but I understand that not every boss has the availability, skill or temperament to provide you with the insights or ideas that could assist you with your development.  There are also people who work for themselves and there is no obvious person to act as a mentor.  I’ve been very fortunate to have generally had someone who has been a helpful mentor for me throughout my career, but if that’s not your story, I would suggest that you take the initiative and find a significant leader in your organisation or industry who could fulfill this role for you.

A Reality Checker.  I’ve touched on the need to not be a yes-man, but it’s just as important that you have people in you life who can tell you when  you’ve gone off the rails or aren’t operating at your full capacity.  Someone who has the courage to tell you that you’ve got broccoli between your teeth when no-one else will say anything.  Of course, you want this person to give you feedback in a way that doesn’t crush your spirit, but you also should be building your resilience so that you can listen to such people without getting defensive or paranoid.

Someone to Forgive You.  We all make mistakes.  Sometimes, they are character issues, sometimes they show our inexperience and sometimes we take risks that don’t quite work.  Either way, we all on occasions let ourselves and those around us down.  Having people in your life whom you can talk to when you feel disappointed in yourself is important as it shares the burden and enables you to learn from the experience without wallowing in guilt or self-pity for too long.  It also is nice to know that there are people in your life who love you unconditionally and are willing to walk with you during the bad times, not just the good times. 

As a follower of Jesus, I am grateful that my faith also offers me forgiveness for the mistakes that I have made.

As I reflect on my life, I have some terrific people who fulfill these functions in my life.  My wife, my boss, peers, past managers and friends who are enthusiastic and optimistic about the future.

Who’s in your support crew and are there any other categories that you would like to add.

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