Your Golden Circle of Support, Part 1

“Try to be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud.”

Maya Angelou

“Help others to achieve their dreams, and you will achieve yours.”

Les Brown

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to tell them what a difference they have made in your life. Have you ever been on the receiving end of this gift? How did you feel? Did you relax and feel a smile creeping through your body? If you can relate to what I’m writing about, you know how precious such gifts of support are.

In the following two articles, we’ll look at the true nature of support. We’ll see what it is and isn’t. And I’ll give you some ways to create a Golden Circle of Support that takes you way beyond the point where you’d typically give up and stop yourself from pursuing your most important goals and dreams. 

For many of us, the word “hero” is often synonymous with “rugged individual.” We picture our travels toward our dream as a lonely quest. We believe that the most admirable and successful people reach their achievements or status by going alone. However,  I’ve found that behind every great success is a team of supporters.

Think about the most significant accomplishments in sports, theater, science, or literature. When asked how they achieved what they did,  most openly acknowledge the pivotal role other people have played in what they accomplished. 

All of us deserve to be supported. Your life will be creative and easy when you give and receive it. And it’s easier to find it if you are willing. 

Successful people have learned to help others and to be helped. Mutual assistance amplifies our own natural courage, faith, and confidence, becoming our Golden Circle of Support.

Many of us share the myth that if we accept support, we diminish our achievements and therefore don’t deserve praise for what we have done. For some of us, help looks like a crutch, even a personal defeat. But if we stick to this line of reasoning, we become exhausted.

We run ourselves into the ground, pursuing our dreams in isolation.

The True Nature of Support

Thich Nhat Hahn, the Vietnamese Buddhist leader, and teacher, often talked about our “interbeing.” We all exist in an interdependent system. No matter how we feel about it, we’re linked socially, economically, and biologically, like cells of a giant organism. And we are healthiest when all parts of the body function well together.

You may be able to recall a time in your life when you accomplished something great with the support or collaboration of others. Maybe you and a friend worked together on a science project in high school. Or an art teacher encouraged you to paint, and you produced a beautiful work of art. Or you had a coach who helped you develop your athletic skills. Or a friend taught you to drive a car.

Now look back on the times when you did it alone, without anyone’s aid. Compare the quality of these two experiences. Was there a contrast in how you felt? How about the amount of energy it required to be successful alone? Did support carry you more quickly and easily toward your goal? How did it feel to share that success or, alternatively,  not have someone with whom to share it?

To repeat the opening to this article, when you ask another person for their support, you give them a precious gift. You are allowing that person to contribute to your life. Their generosity comes full circle when you let them know the difference they have made.

Recall times in which you knew you had a positive effect on someone’s life. Perhaps it was the time you helped a friend through an emotional crisis. It could be when you sat with a relative and talked her through a business project. Maybe it was when you became a mentor for a young person who just needed someone to listen to them.

When have you experienced yourself as being helpful to another person? Have you seen their relief or watched their sense of hope, self-esteem, and strength improve? You know it boosts your own sense of self-worth, increasing your energy. When asked to reflect on their most significant achievements in life, most people name the times when they helped others and saw that their efforts made a positive difference.

My Story

I remember visiting my great-aunt Anna at the retirement home during her first week there. Now, there was a woman! Ninety-five years old, sharp as a tack, and used to caring for herself. She hated being at the retirement home but was blind in one eye and too frail to be alone.  She looked dismal.

I loved her so much! I sat down beside her and listened to her complain and talk about what wasn’t working.  This was definitely not her old, died-in-the-wool gutsy Socialist self.  Suddenly I said to her, “Stop this, Aunt Anna! You’re beginning to sound like an old woman!”

There was a pause. We both started laughing. She began to perk up immediately, and the sparkle returned to her good eye. Then she became serious for a moment.

“Honey,” she said, “ I believe you’ve just saved my life.”

That moment will be with me forever.

Aunt Anna gave me a gift by responding to me in that way. She let me know I had helped and taught me that letting others know their value to us is far more precious than any gift you could buy for them. It is returning the favor a thousandfold! 

Now that you’ve seen the value of support and its mutual benefits, are you willing to look where you might need some support right now?  If the answer is “yes,” read next week’s article. I will show you how to bring more creative energy to your life, activating your own Golden Circle of Support!

See you then!

“Anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.”

Misty Copeland

Wishing you all my best,