As I started to write this column, my mind ran on the song made popular by Frank Sinatra – My Way.
All about individualism and aspiration, this song, written by Paul Anka, and still popular today, is about a man looking back fondly on a life he lived on his own terms. It's a funeral favourite and was also the favourite song of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. He often played it in his cell at a loud volume during his trial for crimes against humanity in 2002. Former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder requested My Way for his final send-off (Zapfenstreich in German) prior to the inauguration of Angela Merkel. More than seven million television viewers watched tears well up in his eyes as a military band saw him off with a version of this song. Donald Trump's first dance as president of the United States was to this song – who knew?
Interestingly, the man who made the song popular loathed it. In a 2000 interview with the BBC show Hardtalk, Sinatra's daughter Tina said, "He always thought that song was self-serving and self-indulgent. He didn't like it. That song stuck and he couldn't get it off his shoe."
Perhaps Frank realised, just as I have, that that thinking is for the young and the ignorant. No one does it alone without help. No one lives life, simply being self-indulgent and self-serving.
We all need support. But we must guard who we let into our circle because people can influence our behaviours and lead us to sometimes make decisions that we later regret.
Here is a list created by executive coach Joshua H Miller, of five common friend archetypes to watch out for.
The glass half full. This person can typically be heard saying things such as: “You’ve tried it before and it didn’t work out, so why bother?” or “Why risk it?” or “Don’t you know most people fail at this?” or “That’s a great idea but I don’t think it will work” or “Are you sure you can handle the criticism, or pressure or…” – all of these types of questions are rooted in fear and limited possibility.
A true supporter will raise your level of awareness around something but not at the expense of delivering self-doubt or disbelief.
The flake. This person is as hard to track down as the loch ness monster. They appear for moments at a time and then vanish into thin air. Sometimes they fall off the grid without a moment’s notice only to reappear when it’s convenient for them. They are notorious for backing out of plans and will make you chase them down. A true supporter will be there for you not just in those good times but mostly definitely when the chips fall and you need them the most.
The dumpster. This person always unloads their garbage on you without a fair exchange of emotions. They are quick to have you listen to their “stuff” without any concern or interest in yours. A true supporter will offer up their listening, heart and sometimes home if needed to support you and your concerns. They recognise that friendships are a two-way street, not a one-way road leading towards a dead end.
The bad influence. This person is always in trouble in one way or another. Drama and gossip seems to follow them like stink on a skunk. No matter where they go, what they do, who they date or where they work – there is always trouble. The problem here is that this type of person doesn’t take accountability for their part in how their life got this way and as a result encourages others to play a role in their drama and circumstances. A true supporter encourages you to be the best version of yourself by challenging you to make decisions based on your wants, goals and desires – not theirs.
The one-upper. This person is a classic Seinfeld stereotype. Their own insecurities evoke the uncontrollable urge to constantly one-up every story or experience you share with them or others. Because they don’t have high self-esteem, they look to co-opt your experiences into theirs to make them feel better about themselves. A true supporter will genuinely be happy for you and with you and give you the stage without stealing the spotlight.
So look around today and figure out who’s in your circle and make sure they’re not just in your circle but in your corner.
Today is the day you stop dreaming about it and start doing the things you know you’re capable of doing that will make it happen. For your free copy of How to Stop Putting off the Things you want Most send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org