5 People for Success

admin - Sunday, April 23, 2017

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“No man is an island”

is a famous quote by poet John Donne.  No one has achieved anything of worth entirely on their own.  After spending decades studying what makes the difference in the lives of successful people I also have found this to be true. Consistently you find that behind every successful person is a team of people cheering them on and supporting in a variety of ways.  It is also one of the key characteristics of resilience.

As you read on and think about the people you have in your life, you may recognise gaps in who you have by your side. Perhaps you’ll think of someone you can invite to join your side and perhaps you’ll recognise whose side you are by or whose side you’d like to join. Knowing where to put your attention in collecting your team is essential for your success.

From my research into success, I’ve identified five types of people all successful people have in one form or another.  They are:

1. Mentor: you need the knowledge and skills of experts, the model of one who has achieved your aspiration,
2. Coach:  you need skilled guidance to access to your own hidden insights to achieve your own unique potential,
3. Champion: you need someone who believes in you, encourages you and champions you,
4. Buddy: mutual sharing with, support and understanding of where you’re at and what you’re going through, and
5. Protégé:  you need to be helping others behind or alongside you.

Heads up…This is not to say that you need only five people, each performing one of these roles in isolation.  One person in our life may perform several of these roles, another just one, or we may also have several people all contributing to one role such as the Buddy. BUT …what you do need is to be surrounded by all these roles or people performing these functions for you.


Mentoring is imparting wisdom and sharing knowledge in an area of expertise. Your mentor is someone who has already successfully travelled the path you wish to take and is willing to share their expertise to guide and development you. A Mentor will often see problems before they arise. They are looking out for you, and want you to be as safe as you are successful. This person can help you find new connections and new allies, helping to break though roadblocks so you reach people and places you couldn’t on your own. You benefit greatly by avoiding pitfalls or saving wasted years from trial and error.

A mentor may provide several types of support including guiding and advising, but rarely teaches. They also might hold you accountable and urge you on to bigger things. Though, mentoring is not just answering occasional questions or providing ad hoc help, but it is an ongoing relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge.


Coaching helps you move forward from your present situation.  You explore your present and design your future. You do and will learn from this process, but coaching isn’t directly teaching. It is possible, the Coach may have the capacity to also teach and mentor you (depending on their area of expertise and your goals), but they influence most through skillful questioning and reflection so you access your own insights.

The coach does not need to be the expert in your field. You may achieve a goal they do not have any skill or knowledge about.  This is because the coach does not give answers, but asks the hard questions. They hold you accountable and absolutely will be your champion, holding a vision for you bigger than you hold for yourself and urging you on to the fullest version of your self possible.

Most importantly your coach will help you to ‘stay the course’ until you arrive at your destination.


Einstein said,

“Anything the brain can conceive and BELIEVE, it can achieve”.

Belief is very powerful and influential. Perhaps you have heard of the “placebo effect” – that is the effect a pretend tablet can have because of the belief of the person taking it.  So powerful is this that when scientists test a new medication, they don’t even let the person administering the tablet know or their belief can impact the result. But holding on to our own self believe isn’t always easy.  This is why it is important that you have someone who believes in you when you waiver – as we all do from time to time.

When your self-doubt emerges your champion’s belief in you will encourage and strengthen your resolve.


Buddying is positive reciprocal interrelating.  You should have several or many buddies in your life.  They could be your colleagues, friends, or your life partner.  Buddies know, understand and care about you and you do likewise. Buddies don’t try to fix you or things. They say things like, “I KNOW. Me Too. It IS hard, isn’t it.” “You’re right. It’s not you. It is the world that is wrong or against you”.

Now the Coach or Mentor in you might be cringing right now (as I am). But you, like me, know there have been times when you’ve know it isn’t really true but you just needed to say that it is all too hard, right? And you didn’t need someone to tell you to put your “Big-girl Panties (or the boy version of that) and get on with it. At that moment that only feels like a judgement. We all have those moments when we just need someone to know it feels hard right now.

But as well as empathising, Buddies are people you can rely upon in a crisis, someone you can trust and confide in and who has your best interest at heart.  You need to know there are people who’ll meet the bus if you’re stranded in an airport and can’t get home (or various other domestic priorities).

Buddies share frustrations and successes and you’re in it together for the long hull. Not only are they doing these things for you but you’re doing these things for your buddies too, aren’t you.


Mentorship is a personal development relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a person with great potential who is on a journey somewhat like they have journeyed. This is the “Protege” or Mentee. They may or may not be younger in years but are certainly at an earlier place in the journey.

Just as you need to receive mentoring, you need to be sharing your knowledge and helping another to benefit from the knowledge you have gained. This creates a balance in that your understand and allows you to appreciate the gift and skill involved in the mentoring you receive. It can also give you the internal permission you need to ask of your mentor when you know you are giving to your Mentee. In other words, when you are looking out for another to be successful, you’ll feel differently about asking for and receiving support yourself.

This may sound like it is a one way street, but you also learn from sharing, as you come to know what you know in a way you wouldn’t if you hadn’t articulated or demonstrated it.  Also, as you watch another attempt what you do, you can refine what you do by identifying what doesn’t work and what is redundant.

Indeed it is a two way street, and this is also the case for your mentor. So you also be sure you are providing an ongoing relationship of learning, dialog, and challenge and doing more than answering occasional questions or being ad hoc as a Mentor.

So, if you now see there are people you can add to your team, how will you go about finding and inviting them?