In the introduction of the book, "Outliers", Malcolm Gladwell describes a small, vibrant Italian community unscathed by stress and worry and the accompanying erosions to physical and mental health. His conclusion that this town's outstanding health conditions were linked to the harmonious nature of the community members and care of nature itself supports his own thesis that "who we are cannot be separated from where we are from".
I began reflecting on the men and women in my community who have nurtured me in life changing ways. It was fascinating to discover that although the people and seasons rotated somewhat, they all appeared to fall into these five categories.
A spouse, family member or a close friend.
These individuals are well-versed in my favorite things (bike rides to the bakery on an early summer morning!); pet peeves (when people interrupt) and most importantly, what motivates me (goal setting & exploration). They are the constant-a reliable force in both the tumultuous times and in the unremarkable times. I'm much more likely to take risks when I feel safe.
A co-worker, boss or family friend.
This is someone intimately acquainted with my professional strengths (interpersonal skills) and weaknesses (working too hard and caring too much ;)) and is a pro at providing regular, direct and honest assessments for each of these areas. A former boss once told me, "Julie, when you rush around before work it makes people feel like you're not in control. Get everything done ahead of time." That one hurt, but I've never forgotten it...and I definitely rush less.
The One You Want To Be
A person who embodies the things you value.
If I am lucky enough to know them personally, these are the individuals I ask out to dinner or karaoke so I can soak up some of their awesomeness. These top-of-their-gamers have also been public figures like Tony Robbins, Brene Brown, Alicia Keys and Simon Sinek.
The One Who Kicks Butt
Level of personal knowledge irrelevant-demands the most and the best of you.
That college professor I stayed up until 2 AM for because he told me the paper I'd written for his class wasn't up to my own standards. TV's Toughest Coach, Jillian Michaels yelling "Don't. You. Dare. Stop!" at me through the television on my final set of mountain climbers. That pesky client of mine who questioned every decision I made, but has forced me think deeper and more intentionally.
The One Who Gives Words and Hugs
An individual with the gift of warmth & intuition.
This person has reshaped my perspective with their very presence. They are the ones I can count on jumping up and down for me in the front row, remembering my big day and sending you a "You can do it" text. They are confident enough in themselves to not only truly want to see me succeed, but help me do it with their encouragement.
I'm deeply grateful for these people who have changed my life, who have poured into me-many without even realizing it. Who have been or are these people in your life experiences? And who are you to others?
I smell a future blog about mentorship, a topic of passion for me, but for now, for a more more thorough and technical look at social support structures, this article by Kendra Cherry is a great start.
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