5 great people to have in your support network


Photo by H. Powers

Photo by H. Powers

It’s 5:30am and your alarm clock has just gone off. Outside, it’s pitch black, and you can hear the rain against your bedroom window. Your duvet is warm, your eyelids are heavy and you are seriously questioning the sanity of making that commitment to run with your friend this morning. You reach for your phone…

Whether you go on that run or not is likely to be heavily influenced by whether the friend you have arranged to run with is the ‘yeah, shall we just meet later for a cuppa instead?’ sort or the ‘I’m struggling too, but think how fab we’ll feel afterwards’ sort. When resolve is at its lowest ebb, having a strong support network of people like the latter can make a huge difference to the way we think and the decisions we make.

Your support network is not just your friends and family, it’s the postie who puts your parcel in a safe place, the local teenager who will babysit at short notice, your personal trainer, your boss, your weight loss group leader, your child’s teacher, your retweeters, your coach, the neighbour who feeds your cat, your vicar, the newsagent who always puts your favourite magazine to one side for you… anyone who is cheering for you in some way, big or small, emotional or practical.

Here are 5 great people to have in your support network:

1. The rantee

There are times when you just need to let off steam and have a good shout and possibly swear about something or someone. To be a good ‘rantee’, your support person needs be able to listen to your rant without taking it personally, let you get it all out without interrupting, stay with you until you’re ready to breathe steady, then forget all about it and never mention it again to you or to anyone else.

2. The Pollyanna

This is the person who helps you to find the silver lining, however dark your cloud (but in a good way, not a teeth-grittingly singsong way) and reminds you that the world is really not such a bad place after all.

3. The space holder

This person is someone who makes you feel safe in whatever state you’re in. They don’t try to alter your mood, they just accept it for what it is and you for what you are. This person is usually a great listener and shoulder to cry on, and generally gives very good hugs.

4. The PE teacher

The PE teacher is so called because they won’t take your excuses. But this person is a kindly PE teacher, not a ‘you’ll have to do it in your pants then’ sort. This person knows that your heart’s true desire is to build a business / write a book / run a marathon, and holds you to your highest agenda. This is the person who you need to answer the phone on that cold and wet run morning, the person to hold you accountable for a chapter deadline, and the person who will be there with champagne when you land your first contract.

5. The daredevil

This is the exciting person that eggs you on further out of your comfort zone than you would go on your own. Who calls you on your goals and dares you to up them dramatically. It’s the person who knows you’ve always fancied singing a solo / jumping out of a plane / handing in your notice and going it alone and pushes you, ever so gently, over that line. They’ll be with the PE teacher with another bottle of bubbly when you’ve done it too.

You might know one person who is good for two or more of these categories. That’s brilliant, but don’t rely on one person to be your entire support network.

If you lack people to play these roles at the moment, seek them out. Hire one if necessary – a coach (hey, I know a good one! ;-D), a personal trainer, a health professional or a mentor, for example. You can also find support online either in forums or on social media, or you could join a group specific to the things you want support with.

And don’t forget to notice the supporting role you play in the lives of others too. Which of those 5 types are you? How can you be even more supportive?

Who’s in your support network that you’d like to thank? Why don’t you name them here right now?




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