Unlike mentoring or networking, your support system will focus on you as a person, rather than on your job or career. The primary mode of communication between yourself and the “players” in your support system should be one-on-one. At times, the level of interaction can be intense, particularly during periods of doubt and confusion.
The following descriptions of support system roles have been specifically selected to fit the needs of Doers who might be suffering and are in need of confirmation and clarity.
Confidence Builder: The key function of a confidence builder is to provide encouragement when you need a lift. Choose people who respect you for who you are, not for what you do. People who know you well are better able to sense when your spirits need a boost. Most Doers rely on their own self-confidence to get them through the rough spots. However, when the rough spots turn into tough times, it is comforting to know people who can supply you with the assurance you need to get back on track.
Challenger: This role requires someone who will question your flight plan if they think you need a course correction. You frequently need a sturdy sounding board to test your notions, thoughts, and ideas. The stronger your convictions are, the more people you will need to fill this role. Finding people who will say no, if no really is the best answer, is not an easy assignment. Just as you demand much of yourself, so must you demand much from the challengers in your support system. You will place demands on their time to listen to you, on their intellect to take you seriously, and on their willpower to refute your assumptions.
Motivator: Doers need relationships with people who stimulate their thinking and prompt them when they need a reality check. Motivators are like a starter on an engine which can be particularly useful when, after a period of idleness, you need a quick burst of energy to get moving again. Pick people who inspire you and build you up. They do not have to know you to be helpful. Authors, artists, poets, preachers, prophets, gurus, or just about anyone who provides a positive influence qualifies as a motivator.
Sustainer: The sustainer is concerned for your welfare and your wellbeing. Just like the body, the mind needs nourishment to grow and develop. When your mental health sags, you need someone who will not just prop you up, but lift you up. You need to know that there are people who care what happens to you. Helping you look for opportunity in adversity is one way that sustainers can help you to broaden and develop your horizons.
Friend: Friends are people who care for you and admire the way you are. They see you as a special person and do not try to change you. You can trust them to respect your point of view, even if they disagree with it. They openly discuss their personal concerns and easily express their frank opinions. Spending time with your friends provides a source of satisfaction and stimulation rarely found in any other relationship.
Reflector: These are people who think like you, have the same interests as you, and agree with you on important issues. Because they are like you in many ways and value many of the same things you do, they serve as a “mirror” reflecting your thoughts and feelings. You are comfortable bouncing ideas around in their presence without fear of judgment or criticism. They accept your faults and forgive your mistakes because they respect you.
Limit the number of support roles you assign to any one person. The convenience of going to a single source for a variety of support needs is overshadowed by the possibility of stressing out that special person by expecting him or her to wear too many hats.