Who’s on Your Cheering Squad?

December 12th, 2011 | Guest Contributor | 24 Comments

cheerleader by Erin FeldmanGuest post by Erin Feldman

I never was a cheerleader.

I wasn’t the type. I wasn’t extroverted or bubbly. I was one of the quiet ones. I liked to study. I liked to read. I liked to think.

But even though I never was a cheerleader, I understand the benefits of having a cheerleading squad.

A cheerleading squad cheers for the team despite how well or how poorly the team is doing. The team’s performance doesn’t matter.

The cheerleading squad’s job is to cheer. It’s to be encouraging. It’s to push the team to work harder, to play better, and, possibly, to win. It’s to inspire onlookers to participate in the cheering.

A cheerleading squad isn’t all fun and cheer, though.

The squad’s comprised of different people. It has its coaches. It has its cheerleaders who lead the crowds in chants. The squad has its tumblers and flyers. It has its support team, the base and the spotters.

Everybody needs those squads and those people. Students need them, and working professionals need them.

Business owners especially need them, but many face their days without any sort of squad.

They might have families, but their family members may not understand what they’re trying to accomplish or be able to offer insight. They may have friends, but their friends may not be cheerleaders. Such friends may be good listeners, but they don’t know when they need to change the cheer to a rallying cry.

Maybe the friends only cheer without catching. Maybe they catch but don’t propel the business owner back into the air.

It’s because of those things that business owners need to build their own cheerleading squads, their own communities. They need to find the people who will support and critique them. They need the people who will listen to their griefs and frustrations without saying a word, and they need the people who will approach their problems logically.

They need both right- and left-brained people in their lives. They need people who will cheer, catch, and propel.

Business owners who are interested in building a squad may do so locally. They meet people at networking events or seminars, and those people turn into their best cheerleaders. Business owners join organizations, begin to participate, and meet people who can offer support and advice.

Other business owners can’t do that.

They may not live in an optimal location. The local culture may not be welcoming. Such business owners have to create a squad in other ways.

They might blog. They might use a social network or two. Such efforts work, but they have their limitations. An online community, particularly one built on a public platform, won’t know and won’t be available for all the nitty-gritty details. Although weekly video chats or phone calls begin to get closer to a genuine community, those things are somewhat removed.

Business owners need a few people who are going to give hugs, a friendly pat on the back, or a punch in the arm. They need people who will say it’s time to play for a little bit as well as people who will say it’s time to get back to work.

Still other business owners have the best of both worlds. They build a two-pronged squad consisting of both offline and online cheerleaders. If they have too many “cheering” cheerleaders offline, they find people online who will catch them or push them to try new things and vice versa.

Do you have a cheerleading squad? How do you build it?

Image © Erin Feldman, used with permission

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24 comments
Shonali
Shonali moderator

My cheering squad is almost completely online. It is comprised of people I know, people I know well, and even people I don't know very well... and frankly, my "offline" cheering squad is my husband. So far, I haven't felt a lack of people to cheer me on. Am I weird?

WordsDoneWrite
WordsDoneWrite

I think, sometimes, we have multiple cheerleading squads. Our family, our friends, our coworkers, our online community, our professional peers. You can't be everything to everyone, so it makes sense that different groups of people can fulfill different needs of ours.

I find cheerleaders in some of the most unexpected places. Frequently, when I need them the most ;-)

Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

You rise or fall according to the people you surround yourself with.

I remember Tony Robbins pointing out how so many people collapse their potential after leaving the military. They go from being extraordinary, to very ordinary and maybe worse. This is due to them not being capable of greatness but rather their not wanting to be ostracized by their friends and family for "Being Too Awesome" aka "Being better than they are".

In the military you're surrounded by people striving for excellence. The people who don't are shamed into quitting and going back to the general population. Your cheerleaders are your peers - even the ones you hate drive you to become more.

And it's so cool to see you addressing this here Erin. Being a business owner can super lonely because the majority of people are employees who wait to take orders. They call you a workaholic but don't realize that all the work you're doing is probably just barely enough to get by - it's not even all the ninja ultra effective stuff that would lead to massive success.

And I agree that we need others to cheer us on, but before we rely on others, we have to become our own best cheerleader and be okay with imagining that every single person we know trying to tear us down, and being okay with that and doing your own thing ANYWAY.

When you aren't afraid/ashamed of what people think of you, you won't be paralyzed like so many people who fail to be their own best friend - who are too dependent on the "good" opinion of others. And this is why you've gotta love the hell out of the one or two people who tell you like it is, not better than it is or worse than it is, and then lead you to making things the way you want them.

ShakirahDawud
ShakirahDawud

I enjoyed reading your post because it made me think a good bit, Erin. And I eventually thought, "That cheerleading squad may not be who we want it to be/think it is."

Latest blog post: Emotion Works In B2B Copy, Too

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

I have a client dealing with this right now which you know of. Currently they are a mobile gourmet food vendor. Stationary brick and mortar restaurants have been fighting against these businesses coming and stealing customers. The city councils instead of listening to the community wants look at who brings in more tax revenue. When my client opens a storefront I wouldn't be surprised if her view changes a bit.

But meantime there is a lobby group/Biz org for the mobile food trucks trying to get laws changed. Well ironically California has cut school funding a lot. So how are the schools raising money for school books, sports teams, scholarships? They hold food truck courts on their campuses.

So I keep telling my client and others in the mobile food business that these people vote for the city council. You have to build up good will with them if you want favorable treatment. Let the community become your cheer squad because that biz org (any biz org) acts in a self interested way. But the community thinks about the community.

Great post!

Al Smith
Al Smith

Excellent Erin. I couldn't agree more. The CARE Movement and myself are receiving tremendous support on line. Thanks ! A great community continues to grow. I have some local support and will continue to build my local network. A good healthy mix of both is what I need. Like you said, most of my family and friends are not quite sure of what I need or really able to offer insight. All I know is like we say, it is great when people CARE and show their support. Be it with a pat on the back or a kick in the butt. Thanks.

Al

NancyD68
NancyD68

I like this post very much. I am just now starting to find my own "cheering section" it has been taking shape slowly, and that is okay. Most of mine is online, what would really be great is some in person support as well. I am still figuring out how to get that.

bdorman264
bdorman264

I wanted to be a cheerleader; I couldn't make the team when I wouldn't shave my legs.........

In my life of commercial insurance sales, so many times it feels like I'm on an island all by myself. Fortunately I do have a great team behind me that knows when I need a kick in the shorts or a pat on the back.

As a team, we try to find a way we can all work to our strengths as much as possible but recognize our weaknesses and make sure it is address properly instead of letting it be a stumbling block.

Rah rah, sis boom pah............see, I would have been good.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@Shonali No, you're not weird. @NancyD68 and I were talking about the same thing. Our cheering squads are almost solely if not completely online.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@WordsDoneWrite I think we do, too. My mom's a great cheerleader, but she doesn't understand everything I'm trying to do as an entrepreneur. She doesn't understand my poetry, either, but she still cheers for me when I get a poem published. I appreciate her cheering, but I still need people who do understand and can provide a more critical view.

It's funny; you're the second person to remark (that I can recall) about finding cheerleaders in unexpected places. I would have to concur. Sometimes, we don't even know who the people on our squad are until they say or do something. :)

Erin F.
Erin F.

@Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2 Maybe you should write a post about being your own cheerleader! :) You make a good point. Cheerleading squads are great, but I have to be an active participant. I can't expect everyone else to do the work and still benefit from it. I have to be cheering (or critiquing when necessary) and doing my part. I love your final line. Those truth-telling people are treasures, especially the ones who tell the truth, then offer suggestions.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@HowieG Thanks!

It's the power of the people. One person advocating something is one thing, but a horde of people doing the same thing? It's a little harder to ignore...just like that horde of high schoolers today. I was panicking that they were going to dart in front of my car. Make up your minds, high schoolers!

I completely understand what your client's facing. My local environment is very competitive. Collaboration is viewed as a dirty word, which probably explains why I spend more time on digital initiatives than on in-person ones. Both are necessary, and I'm trying to find ways to do more in-person community building. We'll see what happens.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@NancyD68 You and I are in the same proverbial boat. I'm looking for more in-person support, too. I think the time factor is a good thing. It would be overwhelming to have an entire squad form all at once. Besides, it takes time to learn other people's strengths and weaknesses. If the squad were to form at one time, I could end up with too many people of a certain personality. Now I have "Cult of Personality" starting to play in my head...Glad you liked the post!

Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

That's so cool that you bring up writing about this.

The topic of the post I just started writing is, "How To Stubbornly Refuse To Be Ashamed Of Anything". It will be the highlights from a speech Dr. Albert Ellis did titled as such. I'm shooting to get it ready for Friday.

The post I did today revolves around the research found by Gene Landrum in his studies of the "Innovator Personality".

I cannot recommend Gene's books highly enough to someone who feels like a lone wolf as an entrepreneur. He tells story after story after story of entrepreneurs who despite having few to no cheerleaders, went on to change not only their little corner of the world but the entire world of business in some instances.

You'll see a few of the stories in today's post - Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Richard Branson of Virgin, and Michael Dell of Dell Computer to name a few. @Erin F.

Erin F.
Erin F.

@Shonali@NancyD68 It's never cliched to count your blessings. I hope some of my online supporters become offline supporters and friends. I would like that. My mom and my brothers offer support in their own way, but they aren't the best resources when I need help with this entrepreneurship thing. :)

Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2
Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

Nope. I'm no Antonio Banderas-Puss In Boots yet. Like a true nerd I'm scared people would laugh at how bad I am because I don't know what the hell I'm doing. And it's weird because I am ultra comfortable dancing in public to L.L Cool J. I just need to quit being a wuss and go get some salsa lessons so my duel L.L. personas are well rounded. :) @Erin F.

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