Let’s share a moment of transparency: the journey and process of self-actualization is a wild ride! As a new business owner (we launched our Consulting Practice, MBA Growth Partners, a year and a half ago), I can personally attest that the path to accomplishing one’s dreams is not linear; it’s full of highs, lows, ebbs, and flows. And rather than seeing those ups and downs as negatives or positives, we have to think of them as mere twists and turns in the pathway. What I’ve learned in a year and half is that you have to embrace these twists and turns. And let’s face it, our stories wouldn’t be nearly as colorful and vivid without them, anyway!
What is a Network?
As humans, we’re made for change, growth, and wild rides. Our very nature is to seek new, possibly better environments to stay motivated and driven to evolve and/or achieve success. We seek different perspectives to spark our creativity, and therefore are constantly looking to build a community/tribe we can turn to for input to support and inspire us to be better and to continue the good fight.
Our human instincts and spirits urge us to find all of this motivation, creativity, and inspiration through relationships with other people. We need people around us who we trust and love. These people, if they are our type of people, can speak directly to our hearts desires and break us out of our funks when we feel beaten up.
That close circle – the people who you go to for motivation, inspiration, creativity – that’s your network. And your network is a critical asset in accomplishing your dreams. If you don’t have a network yet, start building one! If you already have your network established, nurture those relationships, and strengthen those bonds. Why? We’re glad you asked!
Your Network Helps You Combat Doubt
When you set out on the journey to your dreams, you have to set intentions. You need commitment, and you need small goals along the way to keep yourself on the path. But let’s be real; life happens; things happen. Obstacles will surface that cause you to deviate from the path a bit or pause your progress for a time. And when these things happen, the heavy fingers of doubt wrap around your mind. Is this a sign? Am I on the wrong path? Have I made a poor decision?
One thing about doubt is it feels so real in the moments we experience them! Doubt ALWAYS feels rational and logical. However, if we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit that the times we’ve allowed ourselves to push past doubt either left us being better off or at least did not suffer the grave consequences posed as the imminent threat presented. That’s why we need to call on our network in those times – call on them so they can call out the doubt. They’re the ones who will say, “Hey, I know this feels so real to you right now, and you’re in a battle with your mind. But it’s doubt, and doubt is temporary!”
When we build it, our network will encourage us through the doubt to the other side. They will help you temper your fears and uncertainties so you can push through and navigate that time of doubt without losing sight of your goals. And when you do reach the other side, they’re going to celebrate with you!
A Network Helps with Direction and Focus
We talked about setting small goals to help get to the big one (or big ones!), and the obstacles that may present themselves. One of these obstacles, believe it or not, is other people!
There are times when people will compete for your time and attention. They will redirect your focus to their own goals, and away from yours. Not only does this detract from our path, but if we focus on others too much at the expense of accomplishing our goals and objectives, we may start to feel a void deep inside.
We’ve got to be responsible for what will bring us peace, but our network will help us live that out. You need someone to call you out for accommodating others over yourself and snap you out if it! Your network is a resource, and it’s up to you to leverage that resource in all aspects of your journey – even when you’ve lost your way.
Two is Better than One…Most Times
Human relationships are a beautiful thing, but there is a caveat: they’re human relationships. We are individuals who see the world, process the world, make decisions about the world in vastly different ways. Our perspectives are unique; I can’t use your playbook for me, and I can’t expect you to use mine, either.
Turn to your network, your partner or friends, to seek support. That’s what they’re there for. But don’t rely on them to carry your cross for you. You cannot hold people responsible for carrying out your vision! Picture a boxing ring, with yourself in the corner getting psyched for the next round. Sometimes, the people in your network are there in the ring with you, wrapping your hands, rejuvenating you with water, wiping the sweat from your brow. Other times, they’re in the stands cheering us on, still supporting us, just from a distance. Give them the grace and freedom to choose when they’re in the ring and when they’re in the stands.
So much time and energy is wasted trying to convince people to jump in the ring with you or stay there longer than they want. We waste our resources and potentially damage our relationships by desperately clinging to our partner, friend, or mentor when they need to fight their own match!
They say if you want to go far, go together. But that’s not always 100% accurate. If you’re going to go far, allow space for people to partake in a piece of your journey. Allow them to come alongside you for as far as they want to go. And when they are done partaking, free them, release them, so they can participate in their own journey while you continue with yours. Can you go far together? Yes, but don’t force it, or you won’t get anywhere at all. You might even slide backward!
Love and Be Loved: Nurturing Your Network for Maximum Value
You’ve got to live your life like it’s golden. Your network is there to support you as you self-actualize, but you’ve got to remember to allow them the same gift! What’s magic to me is not magical to you, and we have to respect that in our relationships. Ultimately, our purpose is to love and be loved, and that tenet is epitomized by a healthy, supportive network that helps you accomplish your dreams.