Giving & Getting Support

My professional life has been centred around “problem solving” and providing support to people, primarily regarding technical issues. Not to over-generalize, but I think that is a common path for many men – that role of “fixer” that we either gravitate to, or are directed towards.

For myself, I’ve come to see how fixing “something” for someone provided an emotional distance from the person I was helping, and how I would then link my worth to being able to solve their problem and receive appreciation. It’s an easy cycle to continue and it would increase my need for worthiness. Coming to these realizations has made a huge difference for me. There are still times, though, where I’m reminded of this and it gives me the opportunity to pause and reflect.

In the company I work for, I get the opportunity to wear many hats, which is a good thing because I like that, both literally & figuratively. I have also expanded my belief in that what I provide to my colleagues goes beyond support and I liken it to “empowerment”. I pride myself on being a good listener and empathetic to those around me. I’ve coupled those strengths with my training in Life Skills Coaching to help me and people around me to better understand & change our stories.

My company has been undergoing some changes this past year and it’s been a great opportunity to help with the change where I can. I’m also a bass player and I feel that this is a good metaphor for how I approach working with others: listening, supporting, commenting when needed, and directing when I feel the need to bring people together.

Along with these professional responsibilities, I’ve had more personal and family needs arise recently. All of these together have required me to be really aware of my own needs & abilities, and the need to take care of myself. I was pleasantly reminded of the support that I have around me at work when one of our founders leaned in one day and asked if we could meet, just to check in. We’ve done this informally many times in the past, so to have him formally reach out to set aside time felt really good.

It was a great time to reconnect and for both of us to share some of our thoughts & feelings about the company changes, and to give some feedback to each other on different perspectives to take on meeting these challenges. I really appreciated the time we spent and it’s a great reminder to me of the network of support that I have in my life, professionally and personally. It also reminded me that that network is there because I’ve accepted that I can’t do everything on my own, and that I’m humble enough to know that.

Support is there all around us if we accept it and let it in. And conversely, we can be the support network for many people around us, if we can get over ourselves and be brave to open that connection. It’s all give & take, and if we can keep it all in balance as best we can, it can truly make all of us stronger.