Sometimes, work can feel like a grim and solitary place. Especially when you’re toiling away just to keep up, pressured to keep doing more with less, and watching others move ahead while you’re doing the work unnoticed.

When you’re in an environment like that, it’s hard to feel successful in your career. It can put you in a defensive mindset that keeps you from performing at your best, and stops you from demonstrating the great things you can achieve and the value you can deliver. All of which would better position you for raises, promotions and recognition.

What if things were different and better?

What is the thing that’s missing and that stands between you and greater success?

The power of people rooting for you

This morning at the gym, I realized that there’s one simple thing that can stand between where we are now and greater success in our careers – indeed in our lives: the power of people rooting for you.

My “aha” moment came when my workout partner finished her 79th rep (as in repetition) of “Knees to Parallel”. She dropped down from the chin up bar and said, “I never would have done so many without your support. Thank you.”

Just 5 minutes before that as she prepared to start the 5 minute AMRAP (“as many reps as possible”), she told me she didn’t think she could do very many. Since we were working in pairs, that meant I was the one to keep count and cheer her on.

She had gotten up to 45 reps and was flagging. I said, “I think you’ve got at least 60 in you”. She jumped back on the bar and knocked out 5 more before taking a rest. Then another 5, and so on.

With a minute left I said, “You’re crushing this! I think you can get at least to 70, maybe more.” She got to 70. “Okay, let’s go for 75!” She ended up doing 79 reps – a personal best!

This is a common occurrence at my gym. People support each other and cheer each other on. And the more one person cheers, the more others learn from that and join in as well.

The same goes for my husband’s basketball team. The players do the drills faster and better when the rest of the team is cheering and rooting for them. They achieve feats that they don’t think they can do on their own and the positive momentum is infectious.

The point is that we can all achieve more and perform at the top end of our potential if we have others around us who are providing encouragement, giving feedback and cheering us on.

So how can you harness this in your career?

You need a “workout partner” at work

Whatever performance goals you may or may not have at the gym, you’re likely to have some pretty serious ones at work. Whether that’s getting a raise, landing a new opportunity, or getting public recognition for the contributions you’ve made.

That’s exactly where your work equivalent of the cheerleading workout partner comes in. He or she is priceless as someone who:

  • Helps you silence the voice in your own head that sows the seeds of doubt and hesitation
  • Urges you on, powers you forward, and improves your performance
  • Starts you on a virtuous cycle and encourages you to keep going

You don’t have to be wracked by self-doubt to benefit greatly from having people in your corner, rooting for you.

No matter who you are and how talented you may be, knowing someone has your back and is looking out for you makes all the difference in the world.

Having that supportive cheerleader is often the missing link to our greater career success. The person or people we need to truly perform at our best, and even to find what our best can be when we’re too afraid to explore it on our own.

Who’s in your corner?

So, who do you have in your corner and are you allowing them to help you discover and perform at your very best?

And what characteristics do you look for in your workout partner or cheerleading squad?

Here are a few I like to see:

  • Positive energy and enthusiasm
  • Believes in me at least as much as I believe in myself
  • Forward thinking – sees possibilities without being naive – a “why not” person rather than a “why” person
  • Understands what I’m going through
  • Sincerity

Who are you cheering for?

Just as important as having a cheering squad is making sure you’re cheering for someone else. And there’s an art to it, so keep an eye out for people who do it exceptionally well. You’ll learn so much from watching them.

While this degree of vocal and proactive support does not come naturally to everyone, the good news is that it’s a highly learnable behavior. In fact, I’ve come to think of it as infectious. So why not start a positive epidemic?

If you want to improve your chances for career success, then make sure you’re hanging around positive people who are rooting for you and cheering you on. Be one of those people yourself. And teach others to do it as well.

That way, we’ll all have a better chance to feel fulfilled in our lives, make bigger contributions to the world, and feel proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. And as The Beatles might say, we’ll be enjoying greater success “with a little help from our friends”.

With Thanksgiving coming up, let’s remember to give thanks for the people who root for us, cheer us on and have our back.

Who’s in your corner and how have they made a difference in your career?

Leave a comment below – I’d love to know.