Lisa Earle McLeod: Support doesn’t always mean saying you’re wonderful

Published 10:15 am Friday, August 14, 2009

mcleodstarDo you have people in your life that you can count on to support you, no matter what?
Sometimes it all depends on how you interpret the word “support.”

We all need people who will be there for us in our darkest hours. People who will drop everything to come hold our hand in the hospital as we await news about a sick parent, spouse or child.

And who doesn’t want to have people who will stick up for you if someone else tries to take you down?

But how many people do you have in your life who will tell you the truth?

You know, the kind of people who will be candid with you, and who care enough about your success to give you real honest feedback, even when you’re messing up.

We might like to believe that success comes from within; after all, we’re the country of the Lone Ranger.

But more often than not, successful people have a team of trusted advisors, and the super successful usually have a close intimate circle of what business consultant and author Keith Ferrazzi calls “lifeline relationships” – deep, close relationships based on mutual generosity, vulnerability, candor and accountability.

Your mother may be generous to a fault, your preacher may help you understand your vulnerabilities and your spouse may candidly hold you accountable for everything.

But Ferrazzi ( says that the real path to success lies in seeking out a few key relationships that possess all four qualities: generosity, candor, vulnerability and accountability.

Because it doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to lose weight or climb the ranks of corporate America, the difference between success and failure is often determined by the amount of support you get.

We may think of support in terms of praise and validation or someone who will help you out if you get in a jam; but if you really want to get better at something, you can’t just surround yourself with people who only feed you compliments.

If your mother keeps telling you that your jelly belly makes you more cuddly as she pulls another batch of cookies out of the oven, or your employees continually fawn over your brilliance as they line up for their bonuses, chances are, you’re not going to get thinner or become a better leader.

In his newest book, “Who’s Got Your Back,” Ferrazzi reveals why becoming a winner in any field of endeavor – be it overcoming bad habits or creating world peace – requires a trusted team of advisors who can offer guidance and hold you accountable for achieving your goals.

Ferrazzi defines these deep, trusting lifeline relationships as “someone who will never let you fail,” and he suggests that we all need a dream team of at least three people who are willing to offer encouragement, feedback and generous mutual support.

How might your last boss have behaved if he or she had a trusted friend they could count on to be candid about their leadership skills?

How might your parents have benefited from getting expert, unfiltered feedback on their parenting skills?

And where might you be, if you had a team of knowledgeable advisors holding you accountable for accomplishing what you really want to do with your life?
Life is too short to go it alone.

Everybody needs someone to cover their back.
Who has yours?

Lisa Earle McLeod is an author, syndicated columnist, keynote speaker, and business consultant.  Her books include Forget Perfect and Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear.