When in doubt, many people turn to Google for answers (most recently because we couldn’t remember the name of the town in The Iron Giant). But what about bigger questions or ongoing issues? These require a discussion that can’t be encapsulated in a Wikipedia/IMDB article. For those who seek improvement, personally and/or professionally, having some sort of support group can make all the difference. I’ve been known to strike out on my own, and as a result, under- or over-shoot my goals, and flounder when I inevitably encounter an obstacle.
Support comes in all shapes and sizes, so I thought I’d share a couple that I’ve encountered recently, and the elements of each that seem unique (and actually helpful).
Forums & Discussions. I started the Whole30 (finally committing after reading the book 3 years ago and a couple half-hearted attempts this summer) with a group of friends. There is an immense amount of online support that comes with this diet, but, being me, I only consulted the shopping list convinced I could wing the rest. By Day 3, I felt miserable. I hadn’t considered the effect this diet may have in other areas of my life. The next 30 days also happens to be my heaviest training for the MDI Marathon. My protein sources are down to eggs, fish, and a limited amount of nuts. One of my friends suggested I consult the Forum, and it was like a light switch flicked on in my head. I probably wasn’t the first person to have this issue. And, after looking at the forum, my issues are really common. If I hadn’t read through the forum, I’m not sure I would have made it through (even just 30 days).
Mastermind Groups: defined as “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” This type of group has been around for awhile, one popular example being Walt Disney’s early team of animators. Napoleon Hill gave it the formal title of “Mastermind group” in the 60s. Basically, you can make a Mastermind Group for any topic, personal or professional. The goal is what’s important.
These groups don’t have a coach or facilitator and there’s no monetary or networking component. Members of the group are seeking improvement with the help of likeminded individuals. The idea is to discuss current obstacles, set up short term and long term goals, and participate in brainstorming exercises to assist others.
Why do these sorts of support groups work? While everyone is coming from a different background or set of experiences, they have a common purpose, and are looking for a challenge. They also have structure and format (yes, even the more casual ones). It may mean a weekly, hour long meeting, daily check-ins, whatever works for the group. Checkins could even be via Facebook chat, Skype, or Google Hangouts if that’s what the group decides.
Personally, I’m a fan of the open-minded groups that understand a cookie-cutter method doesn’t always cut it. There’s no one fitness regimen or diet or business model that reigns supreme. Some people flourish in a cardio setting, others prefer weight lifting. Whatever works. So, I seek out groups that have a common idea about an issue but are tolerant and inviting of other opinions. Although the Whole30 appears strict in many ways, it encourages people to experiment and find what works for them (i.e. all fruits are Whole30 compliant, but maybe you find that your body is happier sans fruit).
Remember, whatever “it” is, you don’t have to go it alone. There’s power in having a support group, and it’s actually kind of fun to share ideas with other people.