I was going through some boxes of old photos and mementoes the other day and among all these things I found timetables and competition information (as well as some super sexy green pants) from my cheerleading days. Well, I say “my cheerleading days” as if this was some kind of golden era – I was never any good at it really, I’m not naturally flexible and gymnastics was not my best sport. I do still remember some of our cheers, though: “We are the Cougar team and we’ve got style…” … C, C-O, C-O-U-G-A-R-S, the Cougars…” … “B-E aggressive…” …
Now aside from reminiscing about how rubbish my splits were, I’ve also been talking to my business coach about how to get even more focused in what I offer as a coach; and she picked up on the fact that I tell my clients that I’ll be their “cheerleader” (along with other things like a sounding board and an accountability partner). For me, since I first started to experience coaching myself, this “cheerleading” aspect has always been really important.
The reality is that the world in which most of us are operating is overwhelmingly negative when it comes to taking risks and choosing a more alternative path. Teachers, parents, ‘society’, peers – most people are risk averse and when you talk to them they will voice their own concerns and speak from a place of their own fears and insecurities. This negativity is not just external, and in fact our inner critic can be the loudest voice of all.
So for me, the positive, smiley, “you’re awesome!” cheerleader vibe is rare but much needed as we embark on major changes in our lives. It’s a voice that acknowledges your desires, takes your dreams seriously, and doesn’t ask you why you want to do something but supports you in working out how you’ll do it.
Paradoxically, there is actually a lot of talk of the importance of a positive mindset when it comes to being successful. We’re told that we need to have a growth mindset (rather than a fixed mindset), viewing challenges as opportunities to learn and get better; that we should get out of our comfort zones (yay, my favourite concept) and push ourselves further than we imagine to be possible: and that we should not be afraid of making mistakes. Then there’s that argument that we become what we surround ourselves with and that we therefore need to seek out positive influences. (In fact, these points are all summarised in this one article.)
This is not about being naively positive about ridiculous ideas. There is a time for being pragmatic, for recognising obstacles and working on minimising risks; but the point is that someone is always going to make sure that you see the negative sides of an idea – so what you need to do is make sure that you find someone to help you see the positive!
When we’re little, adults will tell us that we can do and be anything we want. They’ll admire our magnificent artwork, watch our singing and dancing performances with rapt attention, and gush about how wonderful we are in every way. Somehow that gets lost as we grow up and become adults ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we need that support any less!
So my tip to you: find someone who will be your cheerleader and provide you with unconditional support in amidst all the other negativity swirling all around you. The cheerleader can be a personal life or business coach, or perhaps mentor; it can be your partner; or it can be a good friend. Just find someone who will wave those pom poms and never stop smiling as they cheer at you from the sidelines.
Wooooo! You can do it! Gooooooo you!
Working on a big project and need a boost? Let me know in the comments what you’re up to and I’ll give you your own personalised cheer!