One of the most powerful tools you can use in reaching your goals or achieving a successful outcome in that special project is tapping into connections, those important people who can help you on your journey. Surprisingly this is often the least considered tool in coaching or goal attainment.
We are not islands in a wide ocean; rather, we are a web of interconnection. As the old saying goes: ‘Only you alone can do it, but you can’t do it alone.’ Once in a workshop a participant told me he was a self-made person and that all his achievements he had attained by himself. Surprised, I asked him what degree he had. He told me it was a degree in Engineering. I asked him how he learnt his subject? He replied ‘through his lecturers and textbooks’. I delved further: “Who wrote the textbooks, who presented the lecture?” Quickly our friend learnt that many people had input into his success.
In our Shikodo project Year of Your Life, Mindset Coaching for young persons in Uganda, we very early teach that part of our growth mindset is knowing the vital importance of widening our connections. As Shikodo Mindset Coaches we must also be experienced Connectors, connecting our coachees to the right people who can help them along their journey. For us at Shikodo, Mindset Coaching is also about community. By connecting our coachees with others enables a growth in confidence and a sense of belonging which are key ingredients in both mental health and well-being as well as in achievement.
So how then can you widen your connections for yourself or others?
1. The first ingredient I call the three ‘A’s’: Ask, Ask, Ask. Many people are afraid to ask. However, our experience tells us that you will receive one of three answers: Yes, No or Maybe. Asking opens up new doorways.
2. It’s How you Ask. Many potential connections may not have the time, so we have learnt to ask: “Who do you know who may be able to help? Such a question doesn’t put people on the spot, and we have found many people are happy to refer you on to others they know who maybe able to help.
3. Don’t get stuck in the Assumption that Nobody Would Want to Help. Sure, there are some people who may not have time or feel they don’t have the expertise but we have found that the overwhelming majority of people feel very happy that they have been asked and are willing to be a connector when they are clear about their role.
One of our participants in the Year of Your Life Project had an aspiration of being a fashion designer running her own fashion business. When she started Mindset Coaching, she was lacking confidence as well as feeling very lost as to how she would begin her career in fashion. Fortunately, I knew someone who had a breadth of professional experience in the fashion industry, Jennifer McCormack fashion designer and personal coach who had worked for some of the leading fashion labels. Jennifer said she was happy to help where she could, so I set up a three way Zoom meeting. I was astounded at the results. Jennifer not only had an immediate effect on *Angel’s confidence, she also offered to tutor her in design and pattern cutting. Angel is moving leaps and bound now towards her aspiration.
In the qualitative metrics of the Year of Your Life Project one of the areas that had the most remarkable improvement which underpinned each participant’s success was the increase in their sense of belonging and of feeling valued and connected. Integral to the journey to mental health and wellbeing and to one’s sense of achievement is a sense of belonging and being connected with others. The Covid Pandemic has exacerbated our sense of isolation and has weakened our resilience. It has never been more crucial to increase our connections. Do not be afraid to reach out. As Coaches or counsellors have the courage to be connectors facilitating belonging. As humans we are social beings. We blossom when we are connected.
*A different name used for confidentiality.
A humungous ‘Thank You’ to Jennifer McCormack of Five Elements Healing.