The people who surround you--your support system--will determine how well you will build and maintain the self-confidence necessary for success. Why? They are the ones that are feeding your mind on a regular basis. Having self-confidence that will never fail is a manifestation of a strong mind. Anything we want to be strong in the future needs to be fed well in the present. An Olympic athlete that dines on milkshakes and candy bars will be a former Olympic athlete in no time. A delicate flower that dines on Coca-Cola and darkness rather than water and sunlight will be a dead flower eventually. The car that has sugar in its gas tank rather than premium petrol will not go. By the same token, your mind needs to be fed well to become a strong, confident mind. So, how do you build a strong support system that will help you become successful?
- Adhere to the golden rule of building a support system. Everyone you invite into your life should make you better. This is the golden rule when building your entourage, the people with whom you spend the bulk of your time. Hang only with people for whom your success is their success. The people around you must support your quest to be great...or be gone!
- Stock your support system with unconditional love. You need people who will be with you, no matter what. When you win, they are happy without reservation or qualification, celebrating like they did "it" themselves. They do not condone your screw-ups, but they will be with you no matter how many times you screw up. The mere presence of these people in your life builds self-confidence because you will always know that someone will support you no matter what you try. These people make you better psychologically.
- Stock your support system with tough love. These are the people who will tell you what you need to hear, no matter how much the truth hurts. The tough love members of your entourage are like that coach in your life who is tough, but fair. They may not always encourage you in the nicest way, but they always want the best for you. Your obligation is to take the tough love advice without being offended by the words, knowing that heeding the message will make you better.
- Remove "haters" from your support system. Haters are the polar opposite to those bring unconditional love to your life. Rather than reveling in your success, haters revel in your misfortune. Haters, if they were not so dangerous, would be pitiable people. They are miserable people who have already decided that they do not have the talent, drive or intellect to be successful. Sadly, haters have decided that their best hope for happiness is to sabotage your attempt to be great rather than stage an attempt of their own. They want as many people as possible to share in their misery. Haters are the biggest threat to your self-confidence and should be avoided at all costs.
- Remove the competition from your support system. There is an old saying that states that you should "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." I believe nothing could be further from the truth. Your enemies, which may include competitors seeking exactly the same prize as you, should not be in your support system except under the rarest of circumstances. Part of the benefit of having a strong support system is the ability to expose one's weaknesses to that supportive group of people without fear of negative consequences. As much as I believe in fellowship, cooperation and the basic goodness of mankind, I believe it would be very difficult to find the individual who, when privy to the weaknesses of the direct competition, would not use these weaknesses to his own benefit.
- Remove enablers from your support system. Enablers are those people that tell you want you want to hear, but following their advice always seems to get you in trouble. Enablers are the ones that talk you into going out to party the night before a big test. They suggest that you go to the casino when you can't afford to lose any more money. They get you to have that extra piece of cake when you are on a diet. In short, they are always talking you into putting yourself in harm's way. In some ways, enablers are the hardest of the negative influencers to spot because their behavior sometimes looks like unconditional love. You must be extra vigilant to ensure that enablers don't drag you into something that you know you should be avoiding.
- Be your own best friend. How do you become a better friend to yourself? Anyone who wants someone else to do well will start by putting him in the best position to succeed. Great leaders work to create an environment around those that follow that is conducive to success. Similarly, being your own best friend means positioning yourself for success as you accept the challenge of greatness. Know yourself like you wrote the manual. Use this knowledge to perform under the best circumstances possible (i.e., if you are a morning person, schedule big "events" for the morning when you can). Find ways to use negative people as motivation, not reason to fail.
By surrounding yourself with the right support system, you will be well on your way achieving the success that you deserve.