3 Must Have Traits of Your Success Support Group

Every person and every idea needs a champion. We’ve heard this over and over again. Maybe, you can do it alone, but unless you are a hermit by profession, it’s going to be a lonely journey.

I’m all for independence. I’m proud to be independent. But a support group is not about dependency. It’s about having people to give you honest feedback when you can’t think straight because you are too close to your goals. It’s about having people to cheer you on when you feel like giving up. It’s about having people to kick your ass when you are dragging your feet.

I know, it’s not always easy to find those people. If you are aiming to do things that are different than then the norm, and not categorized by the standard tangible outcomes such as grades, certificates or pay cheques, then the chances are you face one of the below problems:

  • Your nearest and dearest don’t necessarily understand what you want to do and why you want to do it
  • They want the best for you, so they try to steer you towards the less risky method, tried and true conventions
  • You feel uncomfortable talking to people about your dreams, because they just don’t see your vision and you want to avoid conflict
  • You haven’t got anyone in your life that you trust enough to discuss your deepest dreams
  • Your friends are too busy with their “normal” lives
  • People don’t see why you are dissatisfied when you have a nice house, and a good job, and a lovely family
If any of that sounds familiar, you are not alone. And all is not lost.

So what’s the solution?

You find a new support group. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it also doesn’t have to take years. In whatever you are pursuing, there would be other people attempting the same thing, or similar thing. It doesn’t have to be identical. It just has to be something that makes you relate to each other.

Say, you want to start your own flower shop. Do you need to go and make friends with other florists? Not necessarily. But you could connect with other small business owners in your area, or online. You can share your journeys, get support for your weak areas, and help others out with your strengths. With the Internet, and the ability to connect with people through so many different means, there is really no reason or excuse for not being able to find like minded people.

What to look for? What makes these people different?

 3 Traits

If you are lucky, you will find people who will share all these traits. At the very least, you need to find people who at least have one or more of these:

  • Passionate
  • Driven
  • Positive

Make a list of people who are a major part of your life. Online or off-line. These are the people you spend a lot of time talking to. Day job, family, Facebook friends – whatever it is, it counts. Don’t worry about emotional bond with them. If you spend time with someone, but you don’t like them, they still go on this list.

These are the people in your life, whether you chose them or not. Are they any good for you? Find out by answering below questions. There is no need to make excuses for them. There is no need to get overly complicated. This is your journal. Be brutally honest.

Answer These Questions in Yes or No:

  • Do they care for you?
  • Do they support you in your goals?
  • Do they “get” your goals?
  • Do they promote you?
  • Can you learn anything from them?
  • Do they bring positivity to your life?
  • Do they make you smile?

For everyone on your list, if you have less than three “Yes” then consider why they are in your life. If they are family, you wouldn’t want to dismiss them, but perhaps you could spend less time with them. With other, less binding relationships, think about the value it brings to you.

This isn’t about being bitchy. Friendships are supposed to be mutually rewarding relationships. If you don’t have at least three “Yes” then is that person still your friend? Or have you just got relics from a faded friendship?

Is there any one with 5 or more “Yes”? These are the people you want to spend even more time with. These are the people that probably bring out the best in you. Build more relationships like that.

Create your support group with conscious awareness that you are there for mutual nurturing. Be selective in who you let in that group, but once you have that, be generous in what you offer them.

Success support group is a give and take relationship, but it’s not about keeping scores. As long as you have the right people in your group, your mutual drive, passion and positivity will propel you forward towards your goals.


Take 30 minutes out of your day, and make a list of everyone you spend your time with. Answer above questions in yes or no as to what they bring to your life. Then, make a conscious decision about which of those people you want to spend more time with, and how you can achieve that.


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23 thoughts on “3 Must Have Traits of Your Success Support Group

  1. This is great. A person can get so embroiled in working towards a goal and they don’t think about how the people around them are affecting them. Wonderful reminder to look at the people in your life.

  2. Sarah,

    You are right. Often we are so busy in day-to-day that it’s hard to look beyond that. Also, doing something that is emotionally difficult, automatically invites procrastination, and so it’s exactly the kind of thing that we are likely to put off.

  3. Dolly, I think having a support group is such a vital part of life and is one of the components I write about relating to resiliency. I like your practical, helpful steps toward creating a new support system that will support you toward your dreams!

  4. Bobbi,

    Ms Practical! That’s me! :-)

    I like ideas and thoughts that have a vision, but when it comes to solution, I prefer practical, actionable things as they don’t leave much room for woolliness.

  5. Hey Dolly,

    I just finished a book last night which is all about what you’re talking about here. It’s “Who’s Got Your Back” by Keith Ferrazzi, the dynamo behind one of my all-time favorite books “Never Eat Alone”. He uses different terms than you do but it’s all about finding and growing lifeline relationships that will save you, push you, and make you more than you otherwise could be.

    Kicking ass is an important part of it and I agree you need to give people “butt kicking rights” so they know you’re serious about accountability and won’t take criticism negatively.

  6. Hey Joel,

    I have never heard of that book, but will check it out. I do believe that people are essential part of anything we do. Whether you are running a business or performing more solitary activity like writing a book, you are trying to sell it to someone, or looking for an audience. Perhaps there are some people who genuinely don’t care whether anyone likes their creation or not, but I believe they are in a minority. So for the large majority of us, people – whether as family and friends, or as customers and business partners – are essential, and so it’s important to cultivate the right relationships and the earlier we start on it, the better.

  7. I’m super introverted and love being alone…So it’s easy for me to forget about how important a support system is. For so long I was focused on independence – I thought I had to do it alone. But as your post clearly highlights, a support system is vital! Good supports can provide you clarity, inspiration, and enthusiasm – all things I’ve gotten since joining A-List. There’s MY support system! I really like the questions at the end – I’ll be going through my support list. Thanks for a great post. :)

  8. Such important points you make here. Since I’ve reached out online I’ve found a whole new support system of wonderful folks – and I can answer ‘yes’ to most of the questions about this new group of friends. I’m not ready to throw the old friends out with the bathwater though. Most of them warrant a ‘yes’ to at last 3 of the questions if not more. But many of them wouldn’t understand much about my current goals or how to promote me.
    Thanks for the succinct and clarifying information

  9. Kaylee,

    I’ve been there too. Not in the Introvert zone, but in must-do-it-alone zone. To a certain extent I still do, because it is a part of my personality. However, I did realise years ago that there was a difference between being independent and thinking I could do everything better than someone else. I look at it the same way as when you hire specialists. You wouldn’t operate on yourself, because a doctor knows better. Same rule applies to other areas of life, in my opinion.

  10. Sarah,

    It’s absolutely not about throwing “the old friends out with the bathwater” (Love the expression!). It’s about prioritising your time. I maintain friendships and acquaintances that are over 10, in some cases over 15 years old. It’s simply about how OFTEN you meet the people who are not bringing in positive energy, passion or drive during the time you spend with them, as opposed to the others who are.

  11. This post is so insightful and true. I have been hurt by close friends who would not celebrate my dreams – so hurt I have learned not to share with them. But this also gave me the permission to find support in other friends or forms. By having my support group they provide all that you outlined but they always provide accountability…and we all need that as well. Thanks for this post.

  12. as others have mentioned I try my hardest to spend most of my time alone :-)

    but I know how valuable it is to have the right kind of support systems, the ones that have all the core values you mentioned and are willing to tell you the truth when you really need it.

  13. Jane,

    I know where you are coming from, and it is difficult to trust people once you are betrayed by a few. That’s why, I think, it’s more important to try as much as possible to be with “your sort” of people. It’s not that others are wrong, or bad in any way, but simply that we can’t compatible with everyone.

  14. Lori,

    It is often easy to spend time alone. Saves all the emotional aggrevation :-) But also saves the excitement and enthusiasm of sharing your ideas and plans and theories with others.

  15. Support groups are great especially when it comes to the world of blogging. Most non-bloggers can’t relate to what blogging really requires so when I used to pour out my frustrations to them, my friends would just look at me as if I were talking gibberish.

    Luckily I found support through voiceboks (it’s where parents get together – most are bloggers). And I’ve formed real friendships with the ladies there and it’s great. We can vent to each other and ask for help too. (found your post via a-list by the way).


  16. Anne,

    Thanks for taking the time :-) You are so right about support groups. Especially when we choose “odd” professions such as blogger and writer, it becomes all the more important to find just the right kind of group since most people can’t understand it, let alone relate to it.

  17. Great post Dolly. I love the exercise. As difficult as it can be it is sometime important to let go of unsupportive relationships. This will really help us to figure out which ones need to go. Thanks.

  18. Brian,

    Glad you found it helpful. I know it’s not easy, and I don’t think that most of us can do it in one session. But it’s simply something to keep in mind, and learn over time.

  19. Yo Dolly,

    I remember a study saying that if 5 of your closest friends are overweight, then odds are likely you are too.

    This was a tough exercise for me, because some people I care about aren’t great for my life goals.

    Totally worth it though.

    In fact, I feel I am doing them a service by fill myself up as full as possible.

  20. Benjamin,

    Whenever it involves people, it is never easy. It’s much easier to think about goals, but of course with other people you are dealing with emotions. Not to mention that caring for people and finding them a positive influence are not always mutually exclusive, so that makes it trickier.

    But well done to you for going through it.

  21. I really appreciate your straightforward, simple approach to identifying the people around you who are truly supportive. With all the potential traits we share, you’ve picked out the perfect ones– passionate, driven and positive.

    I’m particularly drawn to your consideration of “driven” as a key component. That’s got me thinking, for sure.

    Wishing you well– Nanette

  22. Nanette,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. Of course the traits might be different for us, but yes, in my perception “driven” is important. If people are driven to achieve their own goals, and are driven to follow their own dreams, then they could understand other people’s dreams as well.

    It does not apply in every situation, and of course if someone does not meet that criteria, does not mean that they are not supportive. Like most things, it’s subjective, and you take it case by case, considering the personality and situations of people concerned.

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