Charlie “Tremendous” Jones once said that “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.”

I’m not sure if that is entirely true, but it certainly impacts the levels of change, success and contentment we experience in life.

This is because humans need a sense of progress to feel happy. Progress comes in many shapes and sizes. For many people it is new knowledge, which empowers us to change, for others new experiences, others an increased sense of mastery. The books you read and the people you meet will help us to understand and do new things. These changes give us a sense of progress and therefore happiness.

In the next couple of blog posts I want to explore:

  • Helpful books for us to grow and
  • Helpful people needed to grow


I watched a TV program the other day. It was of John Van Wisse, 41 years old doing the “Arch to Arc” challenge, from London’s Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

This involves a run of 140km from London to Dover before embarking on a 34km swim across the Channel after a break of around seven hours. He then cycled 290km to Paris.  The previous record was 73 hours and 39 minutes, set by Englishman Mark Bayliss in 2012. John completed it in 61 hours 21 minutes. Incredible!!

When we see someone like John accomplishing incredible feats it is easy to ignore the support crew necessary to achieve such amazing feats. Without the support crew it would have been impossible for John to complete the task, much less in world record time.

Who is on your support crew?

Our support crew are those people who we hang around, we intentionally seek out to learn from, those we let influence us.

I think it is easy to identify the people around us who can hinder us, those that are always negative, blocking new ideas, not curious intellectually, fearful of change.

But, what sort of support crew is helpful to help us to become the best we can become.

Here is my list of the type of support crew I think we all need to be successful. Sometimes one person can fulfil multiple roles, but often we need multiple people in each role.

  1. Legend

Ask every successful person and there is someone who they want to emulate. Someone who has gone before. Sometimes they are a record holder who is long dead. Sometimes they are their mentor. These people are your hero, your north star. This person’s presence (actual or in the mind) is a constant reminder that you too, can do amazing things. You want to make them proud, beat their feats. If you have them in your life they have the most influence on how you do things. Of course when read biographies they can act as a source of guidance, inspiration and wisdom. This is the voice of inspiration and wisdom.

  1. Tactician

In a support crew there is someone who is helping the athlete to work out the best tactics to move forward. We all need someone in our lives who have the same goals we do, who have our best interests and who understands deeply our challenges – the industry and environment. This person might be a co-worker, board member, or someone who helps you think things through out loud. This is the voice of analysis.

  1. Logistics

Success takes lots of resources. We need someone who is a connector between us and the resources we need – people, finance, and information. This person can help you find new avenues and new allies. This person breaks through roadblocks and finds ways to make magic happen. You need this person to reach people and places you can’t. They are resourceful and intelligent. This is the voice of opportunity and cooperation.

  1. Cheer Squad

This person or people are huge fans, strong supporters, and a rabid evangelist for you and your work. Work to make this person rewarded, to keep them engaged. This is the voice of motivation. There are two sorts of cheer squads, those who are with you in pursuit of the goal (you work with them) and those you cheer you on in the background (your home and personal life). We need both. If I was to say which is more important I’d say the personal cheer squad is more important. They give us a self-belief that provides a solid base. This is the voice of encouragement and belief.

  1. Task Master

Someone who pushes you, who makes you think. Who motivates you to get up and go, and try, and make things happen. You want to keep giving this person permission to bring the best out of you. This is the loud and belligerent voice that demands you gets things done. This person is the steward of momentum, making sure deadlines are met and goals are reached. This person believes in your capacity and pushes you out of your comfort zone. This is the voice of progress and inspiration.

  1. Truth Teller

There are times when we get ahead of ourselves, we get full of ourselves, or we simply go off course a bit. This is the devil’s advocate, who asks the hard questions and sees problems before they arise. You need this person’s perspective. Sometimes they sound negative but they are looking out for you, and want you to be as safe as you are successful. They don’t accept platitudes or fuzzy thinking. They are sometimes blunt, but never mean. This is the voice of reason and debate.

As you read this list no doubt there are people who are coming to your mind. Write a name beside each type of support crew description. Are you missing any ‘types’ of people?

If you are, then set about finding someone to fill that support role. Sometimes all it takes is to have a conversation with someone to give them permission or set up a regular time to explore some aspect of your life and work.

To grow takes intentional action. The people who you regularly interact with do set the altitude at which you will fly.



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