According to Sean Byrnes in his post Coaches vs Cheerleaders, your cheerleaders are the people that believe you in you no matter what. They’re the ones who know that you’ll be able to overcome any and all odds, even when you don’t know it yourself. They’ll be there to get you through the plateaus (when you’re bored) and the burnouts (when you’re exhausted). Every entrepreneur or project leader needs cheerleaders to keep up their spirits so take the time to figure out who yours are.
How to find your cheerleaders
You probably already have some idea of who your cheerleaders are or who they potentially could be. They’re the ones who are so excited every time you talk about your project. They’re the people who never get tired of listening to you talk about what you’re doing. They might be an official part of your Tribe or they might not.
1.Take ten minutes and write down the names of five people you think might be your cheerleaders.
If you couldn’t get up to five in that time, then it’s time to think about where you’re going to find your cheerleaders. Find people who can relate to your situation, like other entrepreneurs or do-gooders. They might be people in your “real life” or they may be people in online forums and groups. Not only will it be comforting to talk to people who get you and what you’re going through but they’ll also be able to support you based off experience.
2. Ask, not assume, when choosing your support system. Not everyone has the capacity — time, energy or emotionally — to support you and that’s okay. Even if one person can’t be on your cheerleading team, there will be others.
3. Be sure that you’re being clear about what type of support you need. Do you need to be held accountable? Do you need words of affirmation/celebrating? Someone to show up with a bottle of wine when you’re having a rough week? Each cheerleader may be able to fill a different role for you and it’s worth it to figure out who is willing and able to do what.
Action step: after making a list of your cheerleaders, write a draft of what you will say when you ask them. Once you’re prepared, send an email or make the phone call, using the points above.
How to keep your cheerleaders engaged
1. Keep your cheerleaders in the loop with regular updates. This includes not only what you’ve already done but also what’s coming up, so they can celebrate your wins or support you through any setbacks. While you can always reach out via email or messenger, it’s a good idea to also schedule weekly check-ins in person (like for coffee) or on Skype.
Action step: schedule a weekly or monthly check-in with each of your cheerleaders to give you the floor to talk about what’s going on with the progress of your project. Be sure it is clear between the two of you what you expect from these check-ins and when/how often to plan on them.
2. Don’t forget to give back! Supporting someone can be tough and you don’t want your cheerleaders to feel like you’re taking all of their energy without caring about them to. Thank them a lot and tell them how great you think they are. Another great move is to remind them that they’re changing the world too by helping you make a difference! Everyone likes to feel needed and appreciated and the best way to keep your cheerleaders engaged is by showering on the appreciation.
Action step: write a gratitude note to each of your cheerleaders and send it by the end of the week.
Dealing with haters
When you’re doing something big and worthy, there will always be people who want to tear you down. Unfortunately, the haters can come from all areas of your life: your family, friends, colleagues, even your significant other.
Entrepreneur Steve Chou has identified three main types of haters that any new entrepreneur is going to face: Let’s break down how to recognize and deal with each one.:
1. The Gunslingers are the hardest haters. They’re the ones who shoot down your idea before it’s even all the way out of your mouth. They’re negative people who spend more time complaining about their own lives than they do making it better. Steve’s advice? Don’t engage with them. In fact, don’t even tell them your business idea. They will contribute nothing of value and will only chip away at your confidence, so don’t waste your time.
2. The Factoids are the people who are going to try to break you down with statistics. They’re the ones who are quick to remind you of how many businesses fail and how likely it that yours will too. When faced with one of these haters, Steve recommends that you remind yourself that your name can’t be found in any of those oh-so-commonly cited statistics. You are uniquely you and the aggregated failures of others have nothing to do with what you’re doing right now.
“All of those people who have failed in the past are just a bunch of numbers, a statistic,” Steve says. “They do not represent you and what you bring to the table. You need to constantly remind yourself that you possess unique characteristics that can’t be quantified by anyone.”
3. The Mockers are a little trickier to identify than The Factoids or The Gunslingers. They’re the ones who act like they’re interested in what you’re doing by asking you questions about your project or business but they’re secretly rooting for you to fail. They’re condescending and say stuff like “How’s your little project going?”
Steve points out that while these guys can be annoying, the only thing you can do is brush your shoulders off and transform their mocking comments into a challenge to fuel your enthusiasm.
And what about the online haters?
• The first rule of dealing with online haters is “don’t feed the trolls.” Trolls are people who get pleasure out of stirring up trouble online, even if they don’t really believe what they’re saying. “Feeding the trolls” is engaging with those people — which is exactly what they want. Instead, just ignore them! It can be really hard but, honestly, those trolls simply aren’t worth your time.
Jason Zook has some more immediate actions you can take when you’re faced with a negative comment message, particularly online. In his post How To Deal With Haters and Negativity, he suggests:
•Typing out a completely unfiltered response to a negative tweet, comment, or email — and then deleting it. It’s a cathartic move that helps him move past the moment and get on with his day, leaving the negativity behind.
• Reaching out to the person and breaking down exactly what they were upset about. He warns that this is a move that comes with mixed results — and that it takes a lot of work — but that oftentimes people become more rational when they realize that there’s a living, breathing person behind the computer screen. Only do this one if you feel like you have both the emotional energy and the time to deal with any potential fallout.
• Forwarding the comment/email/tweet to a friend and then laughing about it. This can be a great roll for one of your cheerleaders! They can make a snarky comment about the jerk who contacted you and simultaneously boost up you and help you realize that haters are totally not worth your time.