01/26/2015 05:17 EST | Updated 03/28/2015 05:59 EDT

Are Your Friends Cheerleaders or Fearleaders?


One thing adventuresome people always talk about as being critical to their success is having a dependable cheerleader. But what makes for a good one? We automatically turn to our best pals and loved ones for our sis-boom-bah squad, but that can be a big mistake.

Think about the job specs. No matter how excited we might be about making our dream happen, there will be times when crap descends and we wonder why we're bothering to try. Like every time we hit an obstacle, for example, and start telling ourselves all the reasons why we're not smart, wealthy, courageous, skillful, or whatever enough to succeed. Successful adventurers know that tenacity is more key to achievement than skill, smarts or anything else. They get it, in part, by having cheerleaders (or even just one very energetic person) pump them back up when they get deflated.

The ideal cheerleader looks like this:

• They know your foibles and your strengths

• They're believable

• They're into your adventure almost as much as you are

When a cheerleader knows you well, it's more likely they'll give you advice that's truly useful when they stoke you up -- or tell you to be careful about something. This goes hand in hand with the believable part. If you're about to start a painting course and someone tells you that you could be the next Rembrandt, don't you kinda discount their comment as being completely unrealistic? Personally, I'd rather have somebody point out to me that I've done something artistic in the past. But whatever way you're wired, when your cheerleader speaks it has to be stuff you can totally believe.

The enthusiasm requirement is a biggie, because excitement is infectious. Cheerleaders can get worn out just like the adventurer they're supporting. When you've been whining for two weeks straight or copping out on doing what you've got to do to make it happen, they need to be so keen on your success that they'll keep pushing you right on through it.

A fearleader looks like this:

• They love you so much they fret about the risks -- a lot and not constructively

• They profess enthusiasm but are actually scared to death that your personal expansion will leave them behind, leading to an insidious focus on all the reasons why you should not do the thing you want to do

• They'll say anything to make you happy but it won't necessarily be believable

These are all natural and understandable reactions from those who love you best. I'm not saying you can't find a loved one or a bestie who doesn't meet the job specs. I'm just saying that many of them won't because of their own fears and desires. They're well meaning but you'll have to put a filter on your brain when you talk to them about your adventure, so they don't poison your vibe.

Love 'em anyway. They're precious. Just don't listen to them.

Once you start to filter your cheerleader choices this way, you'll quickly figure out who's who in this aspect of your life. Find the person who's as stoked as you are about your dream, bring them in close and give them the job.


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