There’s an old saying that I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of before. It goes something like, “you are the product of your three closest friends.”
Have you ever wondered how true this statement actually is?
On one hand, the research says that we are social beings by nature. Studies show that social support has a positive impact on our mental wellness and our overall health. (https://www.verywellmind.com/social-support-for-psychological-health-4119970). It’s no secret that we tend to live longer and feel better when we’re connected with other humans.
On the other hand, we need to acknowledge that our social network is just one of the many parts of our lives. Yes, it’s a very important part, but focusing only on the influence others have on us can take away from our personal empowerment. When we start assigning fault to others (for example, blaming our struggles on those around us), we’re essentially surrendering control of our lives. And how can we ever expect things to improve when we avoid taking full accountability?
I often consider both of these perspectives when I’m coaching a client that’s trying to get back in control of their life. What I’ve found is that sound mental wellness comes when we create space for ourselves to get into the driver’s seat while also embracing the people that help us along the way. Simply put, real progress usually requires both individual and team efforts. You can be the most talented person in the world, but you’ll likely be leaving something on the table if you’re without the support of a good team. Conversely, you can have a great team behind you, but their impact will be limited without your decision making and direction leading the way.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
With this in mind, I’d like to share an effective strategy I created called “building your decision-making team”. This is an action plan from my NY Times Best Seller “One Decision” that’s designed for virtually anyone to use. The process starts with three steps:
1. Evaluate who your major influences are now.
2. Decide what areas of your life should be acknowledged now.
3. Make conscious decisions about what relationships you need to prioritize now.
Notice how all of these steps end with the word “now”. That’s intentional. Consider that my friendly push to get you into action mode!
Step 1 – Evaluate who your major influences are now
You may have a few close friends or family members that you communicate with often. These are the folks that currently make up your “decision making team”. You can evaluate these major relationships with a few simple questions:
Are there any ways we can adjust our relationship to better support each other?
Consider these questions and don’t be afraid to grab a pen and paper if that helps you work it out. You may also find it helpful to share these notes privately with someone you trust.
Step 2 – Decide what areas of your life should be acknowledged now.
At this time, you can take a moment to check in with yourself and get a snapshot of your needs. Consider the following:
This step requires a bit of reflection and a lot of honesty. You can check out my previous article (link) if you need some help figuring out your areas of improvement.
Step 3 – Make conscious decisions about what relationships you need to prioritize now.
Now that you’ve essentially taken stock of your resources, let’s talk about the different roles that make up your decision making team. There are 12 distinct roles that I describe in “One Decision”
These roles embody different characteristics and address specific needs you may have in your life. Each role has the potential to fill in for your areas of need and offer practical solutions to your struggles.
One of the most common roles that I’ve seen benefit others is “The Motivator”. This is someone who helps you keep moving forward when times get tough. They’re someone who cares enough to challenge you and always seems to know the right things to say. Someone who is dealing with anxiety, for example, may greatly benefit from forming a connection with a Motivator. The overwhelming nature of anxiety often makes us resistant to getting outside of our comfort zone, which is the perfect place for a Motivator to step in. If you’re someone who’s feeling stuck, feeling anxious about the future, or feeling unconfident for any reason, I encourage you to welcome a real Motivator into your team!
Another one of the roles that’s often overlooked in life is “The Sounding Board”. This is a person who is a great listener. Instead of offering opinions, they ask insightful questions that help you explore your thoughts and make sense of your confusion. If you’re someone who is living with depression or someone who’s mourning a loss, the Sounding Board is a really helpful resource to have in your corner. Often, when we’re dealing with overwhelming sadness, we shut down and stay in a place of pain and rumination. By speaking about our feelings and experiences out loud, we create the space to work out our struggles and make sense of things. The Sounding Board can help us put a face to our feelings and start figuring out our next steps too.
Finally, one of my favorite decision-making team roles is “The Connector”. This is someone who seems to know everyone and has the ability to introduce you to people who share common values. The Connector is a person who knows your goals, understands your interests, and helps you build your team even further. If you’re someone who is eager to achieve your dreams, then it’s important to have at least one Connector on your team to help keep your momentum going. Just remember to reciprocate the generosity that a Connector shares with you.
When it comes to our social circles, it’s incredibly important for us to open ourselves up to others and make conscious decisions of who we welcome in. If you’re feeling stuck and want to make a positive change in your life, I encourage you to take a closer look at your decision-making team. If you put in the time and effort to build your team, the people you surround yourself with can help you be a better version of yourself than you may have ever imagined. Look at any “successful” leader and you’ll see a group of people behind them who fulfill specific needs that help bring out the very best. Remember, you are the leader of your life. That means it’s time for you to build the decision-making team you need!