By Cory Miller
It’s amazing how many times I’ve asked myself this question in the last couple of years.
I always flinch a little bit when I even think of everything in my life bottoming out, but I’m so much better for the exercise.
If everything fails, everything just crashes in my business … WHO, not what, do I need in my life?
It’s help me think through the RELATIONSHIPS I need in my life.
(I originally started thinking about this based on a Strategic Coach workshop, which asked me to list my top 100 relationships. It was incredibly helpful exercise for me. Additionally Chris Lema talks about what he does for the new year and it starts with, you guessed it, relationships.)
For this post though, I’m not going to talk about the business relationships of this, like partners, investors, financial ones, or even team members.
I’m thinking about my LIFE, the people I would need who provide support, encouragement, even help with everything that goes with living the life of an entrepreneur.
These are the people who rush into your life, while everyone else runs out of it.
I call them my Life Support Team, or Emergency Response Team. All of them are invaluable and provide unique ways of showing me support to battle whatever low I might be experiencing.
Here’s my list:
My wife is my no. 1 relationship and partner in life (and business). She’s my priority and preference all the time. With her support and love, I feel empowered to do anything. I’m not sure what else to say but this one is non-negotiable. I can tell when we don’t get quality time together (which has happened recently with our now separate work travel and stuff).
The biggest test to our relationship though has been having children, not the business. I can’t imagine a bigger strain on a relationship in general than having kids. But thankfully we have pushed closer together rather than falling apart.
This is one of the key reasons early on with our first child that we committed to doing “Day Dates” (because, well, kids and sleep) now each Saturday to just spend time with each other, talking, watching movies, eating sushi, whatever it takes to stay connected.
We know when we miss a Saturday Day Date. It matters to us.
Spouse first. No question. She’s the one I wouldn’t even wait to run to me … I’d sprint to her.
(By the way, because we’ve heard from so many entrepreneurs and experienced it ourselves, Sherry Walling and I are planning a Couples’ Retreat for Entrepreneurs and Spouses on Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2017. You’ll want to save the date for that … and sign up for our email updates as we’ll be sharing details very soon.)
My children are rather young (2 and 4 as of the writing of this) now. They probably don’t understand and are not equipped to help me emotionally. But having loving, lasting, healthy relationships with my children is paramount to my happiness and success.
In the same way I’m seeking to and prioritizing spending time with my spouse … I see the same being true more and more as our children get older. I want them to know who I am, what I do and go through. My instant gut reaction is to hide the pains, struggles and suffering, but I think that only adds to misunderstanding. They may see me hurting but not know why. (Side note: Will be getting asking lots of experiences from my entrepreneur peers on this very very soon.)
Other Family and Friends
The first people that come to mind are my parents. They were the first to rush into my life when I was going through my divorce in 2010. The second would be my brothers (and by extension their wives, who I think more of as sisters) … the next wave of people who just showed up and were there for me.
As far as friends, there are too many to list, but I think of Lisa Sabin-Wilson, Matt Danner (despite also being my COO), Chris Lema, Shawn Hesketh, Sherry Walling, Rebecca Gill, Jason Schuller, Karim Marucchi — all people I’ve spent an enormous amount of quality time with, shared life with, and who, despite my rough edges, seem to love and support me for me, not what I do. There are many, many more though.
I’m actually overdue for an appointment with my counselor, Kyle. But I’ve leaned on him many, many times over the years.
As I write this post, I realize I set in stone many years ago to meet with him more often (four times a year was my goal). What I’m realizing is I often go to him when things are bad, not when they are good. I’ve likely let Superhero Syndrome creep into me yet again.
I’ll be making an appointment with him for next week.
By the way, in this podcast episode, Sherry talks about how to find the right counselor for you.
My Entrepreneur Peer Group(s)
Although many of the people I’ve already mentioned are entrepreneurs themselves, I’m thinking of my formal entrepreneur peer groups here. The ones that meet every month with a formal agenda, and agreements that we show up on time, ready and don’t miss unless absolute emergency.
Right now I’m in two of them (with one more starting soon).
A quick story on their importance in my life …
A couple of years ago, I thought everything was great and perfect. We were getting ready to move to our new cabin in New Mexico for the summer and making lasting memories. Business was really good. My team was absolutely solid.
I was on a high. And I thought I needed to resign from my group at the time so I could spend a whole summer out there, without any interruptions for travel (back to OKC in this case).
Thankfully they didn’t let me resign and granted me a short leave of absence for that summer.
But guess what … the moment I thought everything was good and grand, I needed them. I needed their stories, I needed their experiences, I needed their support.
I just needed them. And the consistency and formality of our meetings together.
And there was this moment during that summer when I was sitting in my office at our cabin, looking out onto the beautiful view … and saying to myself: “Dangit Cory, this, THIS is why I have a group. For these moments. For all of life that I live as an entrepreneur.”
For the bad things and good … for the peaks and the valleys. For times just as this.
I thought I could supplement time with that group with other things (whether it’s a counselor or business training) and I was wrong. Nothing compared to having a group of entrepreneurs that got me to help me and I had a big gap in my support system.
So when the summer ended, I eagerly returned and now can’t think of not having this group with me on my journey. I’m more committed than ever to that group because I know who they are to me and vice versa. (This weekend we’ll be doing our annual retreat and I can’t wait to deepen those friendships even omre and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences and conversations with my #pals).
OK … I’ve shared mine. Now it’s your turn.
Who’s on your life support team? When was the last time you spent quality time with them, or did a checkin?
Who’s missing? Who do you need to make a phone call to today perhaps?
And then … what are your next steps to ensure your emergency response team is there, knows what you’re going through, who you are at a deep level and can be there for you when the lows hit?
That’s your homework.