Who's in your corner?

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How do you build a personal team that helps, supports and challenges you?

You can't fight the good fight alone. It's more fun if you take some people with you for the ride. So who have you got in your corner?

The role of the cornerman or corner team comes from boxing. When you're in the ring slugging it out you can't see what's happening because you're in the thick of the action. Your cornerman will tell you what you’re doing and when your bad habits take over they'll correct you.

Mohammed Ali is the architype lone fighter but even he had Angelo Dundee, Ferdie Pacheco and Drew Bundini Brown to name a few. Who do you have? Take a look at the team you have around you. This doesn't have to be a formal team sat at a bank of desks in the office. It can be a combination of friends, advisors and colleagues who you go to when you need help and who help keep you on the path to where you want to go. They are cheerleaders, critical friends, specialists, generalists.

If you don't have a team, start assembling one. No person is an island.

If you don't have a team, start assembling one. No person is an island. Look at the things you do now, what you want to achieve and what you want to do in the future? Who do you have who challenges you? These are valuable people. You don't want to surround yourself with Yes women and men. You want to find the right balance of encouragers and constructive critics. People who think like you and also people who think in completely different ways and come from different backgrounds and industries. Homogeny is the death of creativity and creativity will differentiate you and propel you to where you want to go.

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Personally speaking, people around me have helped by; challenging entrenched beliefs, supporting me in times of stress, holding me accountable and providing encouragement & feedback to help me develop. Whilst sometimes hard to take, all of this support has been invaluable, especially in the last couple of years working remotely and starting my own business.

Research shows organisations who are committed to diversity are more successful. How diverse is the organisation you are creating around yourself? What can you do to make it more diverse and expose yourself to different ways of thinking?

More important than the benefits of success, the material benefits, having someone solid in your corner is great for your mental health.

You need someone to bounce your problems off, confide in, speak your fears to. Someone to tell you when you are letting these fears run away with you someone to challenge the truths you've allowed yourself to believe. Mental health issues are rife within workplaces and freelancers and entrepreneurs are far from immune to them. The hackneyed phrase 'a problem shared is a problem halved' holds some truth and you need someone in your corner to help keep you mentally healthy.

The solo success is the same thing as the overnight success, a myth.

Examples of the type of people to seek out when building your team:

  1. Critical friend - the person who isn’t afraid to tell you when you’re wrong & speak truth to power

  2. Mentor/coach - Doesn’t have to be one person but this is the source you go to for calm help and advice from people who have been there and done it

  3. Mentee - This is someone you can help develop & by doing so give back and grow your network

  4. The counterbalance - Someone who compliments your weakest areas allowing you to double down on your strengths

  5. Peers - People who are experts in the same or complimentary fields as you. You can bounce ideas off these people and keep yourself up to date

  6. Independent advisor - This is someone who knows you but is not involved in your business or industry. It is easy to get caught in a filter bubble relating to your industry or sector and, on occasion, it is good to speak to someone who is completely removed from this world. They can bring insights and advice

  7. Training partner - Someone to physically exercise with

  8. Specialists - More applicable to the business world this group contains professionals such as accountants, lawyers and HR people who you can call on for reliable support when you need it

The solo success is the same thing as the overnight success, a myth. You are the product of the five people around you, at the end of the day, teams win.