Sources of Lifelines
Your confidant need not be someone close to you - sometimes those close to you are very poor at it. We have close friends for many possible reasons. Not all of those reasons make for effective confidants. They may also be unwilling to give tough love. They may be too forgiving.
Find people at work. Including former teammates. Try people you knew in school. Connect with people you meet at conferences or workshops. Talk to strangers too (e.g. on flights). Low yield, but you’ll occasionally get hits. You can always hire a career coach or therapist.
Qualities of a Lifeline
- Is the person willing to be candid with you? Can you be candid with him as well?
- Is (s)he willing to be open and vulnerable? Does he understand your fears and struggles?
- Is he willing to hold you accountable with the goal of helping you achieve your dreams? Will he let you do the same for him?
- Is he generous in doing it for you? Generous enough to let you help him?
When considering a candidate, walk through the four mindsets with him. If he reacts poorly to your raising these kinds of questions, he cannot handle the tougher issues that arise.
Consider the following as well:
- Commitment: They need to be generous with your time. Meet at least once a month (phone or in person) for several hours. And between meetings, talk when you have a difficult time. You want people who’ve got your back 24/7.
- Comprehension (aka Know-How): They don’t need to be experts in your field, but they should have practical knowledge. At a fundamental level, they should /”get it”/. Otherwise you will second guess their advice.
- Chemistry and Curiosity: They should be curious about you and your concerns. Willing to quickly read up on the issue you’re having. Genuinely like and admire each other.
- Diversity: You should not surround yourself by people like you. Consider diversity in education, background (e.g. lower/upper class), age, expertise, degree. They may view the situation from a different angle than you.
It is hard to find people who satisfy all these qualities. That’s OK. The above is the ideal.
People from your support team will leave/drop off. Life happens. Think of them as having graduated.
Dropping a Lifeline
When should you let go of someone?
- Is the relationship unbalanced? Are you taken advantage of?
- Are your basic values and habits misaligned?
- Are you practicing The Four Mindsets with this person without success?
- Do they nod their head instead of listen?
- Do they take your goals seriously? Does he forget to follow through in keeping you accountable?
- Would you be stronger, happier, or more successful without this person in your life?
If you answered yes to many of these, consider moving on.