As I’ve written before, success is not a solo sport. It takes a team of people supporting you along the way. If you take a conscious approach to seeking out the support you need rather than leaving it to chance, your path will be smoother and your success more likely. With that in mind, here are six character types I have found can play a key role as people create a career that energizes and inspires them.
The visionary: Everybody needs someone in their life who can’t help but aim for the stars. It’s inspiring to be around people who see so much potential in the world. It’s like a shot of inspiration and possibility, straight to the vein. Having a visionary in the picture helps you expand your horizons and see possibilities you may never have considered. Not only will they help you see the potential reality of your dreams, they’ll even expand them. “Oh, what a great idea!” they’ll exclaim before taking it a step further: “What about this?!”
The positive pessimist: Of course, just as important as the visionary is what I call the positive pessimist. That’s not to be mistaken with the Eeyore-like pessimist who does nothing but dump negativity on any dream that dares to venture beyond the narrow boundaries of the “norm.” A positive pessimist is someone who can see the dangers and pitfalls and will alert you to their presence in a way that leaves the door open to possibility. The spirit of their pessimism is aimed at pointing out hurdles to be overcome and problems to be solved or avoided altogether, rather than looking at them as obstacles that make your path impossible.
The implementation specialist: All the dreaming and planning in the world means nothing if you don’t actually make something happen. This is a person whose natural mode is a practical, where-the-rubber-hits-the-road approach. Implementation specialists can hold your feet to the fire when they see that you are getting too caught up in your comfort zone and not doing what it takes to create results. They can also help you identify ways to make your path more effective. They will often be operations-focused and have a systems perspective, which can help you identify how your process is blocking you.
The emotional supporter: I can’t stress the importance of this one enough. Even the most fearless-seeming, tightrope-walking entrepreneur is only human, and life as a human can be messy. We all experience bumps and bruises along the way. We all have our times of uncertainty and self-doubt. Having someone in your corner to offer emotional support can smooth the path and help you persevere through the challenges.
Emotional support can come in many ways. It could simply be an ear to listen, someone who will let you vent your frustrations. Or, it could be someone who believes in your dream and your potential and will hold that for you even when your outlook is more negative.
The subject-matter expert: Whatever your path, there are people who know more than you do about the subject matter you are focusing on. Make an effort to find these people and incorporate them into your support team. They might be an ongoing part of the team, or they might offer their insights in a one-time dose (if, for example, you do an informational interview to glean insights from what that person has learned). Remember, too, that while it’s great to have subject matter experts on your team in person, you can also get some of the benefits from books, blogs, speakers, etc.
The old hand: Turning dreams into reality is enough of a challenge without making it harder for yourself by reinventing the wheel unnecessarily. Odds are good that there are others who have trodden the same path you’re on, and it’s likely that they have learned a thing or two from which you could benefit. Look around and ask, “Who has been there, done that? Who has done what I want to do?” Again, this person could be someone you incorporate into your journey on a consistent basis, or it could be someone who injects their insights into the picture once. And, as with the subject-matter experts, while it’s great to have one-on-one contact with the old hands, you can gain some of the same benefits secondhand from books, etc.
Structuring your dream support team: It may be tempting to think of this as an organized group of people who get together regularly to support your dream. The reality is likely to be a bit more ragtag. You might have one or multiple people playing each role, each with varying degrees of involvement. Some might be integrally involved in your journey, while others might stop by for a quick visit and be on their way again.
Having a structure for your dream support team is less important than simply asking the question, “What support do I need?” and then continually finding ways to reach out and find it.
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.