A person’s success isn’t the result of superhuman feats. It’s the outcome of doing the things anyone can do—though most of us just don’t.
Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter and eight-time Olympic gold medalist, observed: “I’ve learned something through the ranks that there’s a ladder, but no one wants to climb the ladder. They just want to get to the top of the ladder.”
Any worthwhile achievement won’t be easy, but if we’re willing to do the things anyone can do (knowing most people won’t), we can achieve even our most daunting goals.
The most effective way to realize our dreams is to turn them into specific goals and identify people who can support us along the way. Even the most disciplined among us can benefit from involving our friends, family members or colleagues help us get to the finish line.
Seeking the help and assistance of others is a sign of strength, not weakness. No person ever became truly successful all on his or her own. All had help, and lots of it. They all had people by their side who encouraged them, provided advice and helped hold them accountable to their own aspirations. There’s simply no need to fly solo.
Peer support is undeniably the most important component for achieving hard-to-reach goals. We can have the intent and we can build the plan, but at the end of the day, if we’re alone, it’s a lot more likely that we’re going to give up and return to our old routines. Having the support of others who can keep us accountable is the key component that puts the match to the fuel of our intent and ignites our will to move forward.
Keep in mind some rules of thumb when you involve others in helping you realize your dreams. These include:
- Seeking support beyond the usual suspects. Asking for help can be uncomfortable. It’s always easiest to reach out to your circle of family and friends when building your “dream team.” If you’re part of a workout group, for example, and your goal is to compete in a triathlon, you may naturally gravitate toward the workout group members. But, it can also be worthwhile to seek out people outside your circle. In this instance, someone who practices mindfulness or meditation may be helpful in supporting the mental fortitude you need. Or, you could join forces with someone working on a graduate thesis to support each other in staying focused on your individual regimens. When people reach across boundaries, they receive different perspectives. Inviting opinions different from your own can be a learning opportunity.
- Sharing challenges instead of offering advice. Providing constructive support entails less knowledge sharing and more problem solving. Sharing challenges rather than knowledge or advice encourages working out ways to better address those challenges. The best way to react to somebody’s challenge is not to say, “Have you thought about this, this or that?” It’s better to say, “I had a very similar experience and here’s what I went through.”
- Building in accountability for progress. Whether your support system is a mentor to mentee-type arrangement or a group that comes together to offer mutual support, give the challenge-seeker (or seekers) the impetus to act. Hold each other accountable for doing the things agreed to within a given timeframe. By immersing yourself in a culture of accountability and in a mindset for receiving help, you create a productive environment for high performance.
- Achieving your dream through small victories. If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know that in addition to the physical challenge, there’s a psychological one. Because of the tendency to fix your eyes on the peak, it’s easy to climb for several minutes and feel as if you’re making no progress. Focusing on a goal that continues to look unattainable can be discouraging. Help each other to put one foot in front of the other by establishing short-term goals, declaring victory and setting new short-term goals. In this way, you ultimately will realize success.