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You'll never succeed without the right support.

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You'll never succeed without the right support.

Rebecca Morley

I read an article recently in the Harvard Business Review that really struck a chord with me.  It outlined the different support roles you should have in your network to ensure you have the best chance of success.  They made it sound so easy.  Just a list of 6 or so key people, or fewer if some of them could double up, and you were set, ready to take on the world, and with all the confidence you needed.  The roles were as follows  (I paraphrase):

The expert - Essentially someone who knows more than you do about what you're working on, going through or challenged with.

The sausage maker - Someone with whom you can 'whiteboard' or 'brainstorm' - someone to talk out loud to that can help you work through the detail of your ideas. 

The role player - Someone who you can role play with in advance of important situations.  Allowing you to practice big presentations or pitches for example without the pressure of the real situation.

The mirror - The person we trust to give us feedback, confront us with the reality of a situation or simply give it to us straight.

The cheerleader - The one we know has got our back, the one who always has a kind word of encouragement.  In my case this is my mother but, you know, it's not like that for everyone!

The safe harbour - The people we can let our guard down with, be totally ourselves without fear of judgement.

I have absolutely no doubt that if the majority of people could identify and then call upon these people in their day to day lives they would be more confident, calmer and overall happier than they are now.  I'm sure there are many people who have at least one or more of these roles in their lives and are hugely grateful for the support.  However, with time constraints, a hugely competitive corporate landscape and ever busier lives, sometimes it's just not practical to expect that you can call upon your supporters to the extent that you need them.  For me, this is where a coach comes in.  Bar the 'expert' role (more on that later) a professional coach can play some, or all, of these roles at the exact time you need them and for as long as you require.  Not only that, you can be assured that what you say is confidential, they are not competing with you and they most certainly have your back.  In fact, they are trained not only to support their clients in many of the roles above, they also have a huge toolbox of tried and trusted techniques to make the process as efficient as possible.  And if that sounds daunting then they can also just be an ear - one that you have no fear of wasting their time.

When it comes to the expert role, in many cases, it's actually you that's the expert on the situation at hand, and a good coach can help you to work through things to find the best answer for you.  Beware the expert advice that makes assumptions about the situation you're in just because they've been in a similar situation themselves in the past.  There are many times in life where you do need an expert - I would have no idea where to start if I wanted to build, let's say, a motorbike but there's a danger that when you find yourself in a sticky situation you hire an army of experts before you've really made yourself clear on your goal.  Work through what YOU know first and identify the areas you really need expert advice on before engaging with someone to tell you the answers.  

Working with a coach in some, or all of the support roles above can give you the confidence to take on challenges that may have previously felt like too great a risk.  Successfully taking on challenge builds resilience and this creates a virtuous circle of risk and reward that would otherwise have seemed out of reach.  So many people feel as though they've failed if they ask for help but in reality it opens up so many opportunities to grow.  Put simply - you WILL succeed if you have the RIGHT support.

Link to HBR article here -