It’s hard to get support.
Not that there isn’t plenty of support out there. Or that we don’t deserve it.
But it’s hard to get support.
I remember years ago a client was drowning in work. She was always overpaying my PR agency to take on some of the work—and always stressed. When I suggested once that she hire someone to work with her, she was flabbergasted.
“Are you serious? I don’t have the time to search for someone, hire them, and train them.”
I thought about that this morning as I was exercising. One of the great things about exercise is it—ideally—makes certain muscles stronger and helps to hold you up and thrive in daily life. In short, your muscles can support you.
But only after a lot of time and training can you get that support.
It might be there waiting in the wings. And we definitely deserve it. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy to just go ahead and get.
I think of all of the reasons I haven’t gotten support in my life: Too much time. Too much money. Too much training, I already know how to do it. I can do it myself. I’ll figure it out. I’ll look stupid. I’ll look incapable. It’s too high-maintenance
There are plenty of logistical and emotional barriers to getting the support we need. Not least of which is actually admitting to ourselves that it is a need.
Long ago, I created one basic criterion for when I need support—if I’m struggling to the point of self-doubt, I need support.
It’s totally cool to keep going if the struggle is a growing opportunity that’s helping me to expand. But the moment that the struggle makes me start to question myself, I’ll either shame myself or just stop caring and give up.
In his landmark book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talks about how growth can only happen when our challenge is just a little bit bigger than where we’re at. If it’s too big, we tend to either doubt ourselves, disillusion ourselves, or do it for a bit and then get bored.
Csikszentmihalyi gives an example of playing with a dog that I’ve experienced more times than I can count. When I’m playing tug of war with my dogs, they love it. But, if I’m not into it and not trying, they try less hard to make it competitive. If I’m pulling hard and never letting them get it, they struggle for maybe five minutes but eventually give up.
It’s the challenge they’re looking for. And one that’s commensurate with their skills—just a little bit bigger.
It’s a little bit like trying to run a marathon if you’ve never run more than a mile. It’s so preposterous and, regardless of your willpower, the odds aren’t stacked in your favor.
Except most of us do that all the time. We try to shoulder intense emotional burden without the support of a therapist or coach. We try to struggle through building a business without friends, colleagues, or mentors supporting us. We try to hold everyone around us up while we’re totally overwhelmed inside.
Sure, there’s a healthy amount of growing outside of our comfort zone. But when the quest for growth becomes an unrealistic emotional burden, we’ve just reached the danger zone.
And we visionaries are masters at it. We’ve been told we’re “too much” and “not enough” our whole lives. So, of course, we have to prove ourselves. We like to do it all ourselves. And a lifetime of memorizing the rules means we’re usually pretty good at having to figure it out ourselves.
We know we can do it. If we just work harder. If we just push more. And we don’t need anyone’s help. They wouldn’t understand. They wouldn’t do it exactly like we would. And we don’t have the time or energy to get them up-to-speed, anyway.
So we struggle and struggle. Shouldering that burden ourselves.
I’ve been in this process recently, since an insurance snafu made me lose my therapist of two-and-a-half years. After over two hours on the phone with insurance and therapists, trying to get someone to see me, I managed to go in for a first session on Friday.
And I felt a little bit like I was on a first date after a long-term relationship. To get the support I need, I have to do significant work of re-introducing myself. Of exploring my needs in this new context.
Sure, there are exciting self-inquiries that this interaction brings up for me—witnessing how I present myself to this new person.
But it doesn’t change the fact that getting support is often hard.
And yet support literally means “to carry from below.” To hold up. To shoulder the burden when it gets too heavy.
It may be a lot of work to access. But, without it, we have nothing catching us when we fall. We have no safety net.
And we know genius needs safety to come forward.
Support is a non-negotiable aspect of bringing your genius forward. Of sharing it with the world.
Support allows our struggles to be growth opportunities because we’re supported in the ones that aren’t. It allows us to co-create with others. To move away from our self-imposed prison of radical individualism and toward the collective impact we can make.
Research has long told us that the single greatest indicator of a happy and successful life is meaningful connections.
We’re supported when we feel down. When we trip and fall. We have someone—or something—to catch us.
And, if we’re struggling with support, we can look at the easiest and simplest ways first. Are we drinking enough water to support our bodies? Are we getting enough sleep? Are we eating foods that feel good to us? Are we moving our bodies in ways that feel empowering?
As we build up a foundation of support, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to tackle some of those things that are “way too out of reach right now.”
Because support is the foundation that allows us to climb higher.
And it’s not easy. But it’s necessary.
As a visionary, as a genius, it’s critical.
You’ll be shocked what you can accomplish with a little more support.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Do you have enough support in your life?
— Is there anything in your life that you’ve been struggling with? Does it feel overwhelming? Have you been resisting support there because it feels either impossible or just really hard to get the right kind of support?
— Do you have big goals and plans but no idea how to get there, so you start and stop a lot? Or you just end up giving up? Or never seem to make it work?
— What’s one step you can take to get support this week? It can be an incredibly simple step like drinking more water or getting up an hour earlier or calling a friend and chatting. But what’s one thing you can and will do this week?