It always seemed unfair that Skeletor didn’t have more help.
I mean, even when I was a kid, I got that Skeletor was a bad guy, and that it would Not Be Good if he conquered the universe. But it didn’t seem right that He-Man had all those friends to help him thwart evil schemes, while Skeletor just had a couple of idiots on his side.
In case you’ve got no idea what I’m driveling about, I’m referring to a cartoon from the 1980s, in which Skeletor was the main villain. But if you’ve ever seen (almost) any cartoon you’ll know what I mean: a poor lone baddie must face a team of heroes all by themselves.
Even Skeletor deserves a little help..?
Obviously, I’m not writing a whole post about the unfair treatment of 1980s/90s cartoon villains. (Although I’m suddenly overwhelmed with an urge to actually do that…)
(Dear Puttylike editor: don’t worry. I won’t.)
Anyway, it’s not that I wanted evil to actually triumph. I just had a solidly developed sense of fairness, and surely everybody deserves a little help.
I hoped that the real world would be different, but, unfortunately, it seems that real life is like cartoons… and not even in a cool way. My enemies don’t live in giant skulls and I don’t get to wave around magic swords without causing far more problems than I’d solve.
But, just like poor misunderstood Skeletor*, we don’t always have the support around us that we need.
*again, if we ignore the “trying to conquer the universe” thing
Where might my team be?
The obvious place to find my team might be at work. But in my life, being part of a team has been the exception rather than the rule. Most of the time I’ve been doing my own thing—working freelance, writing books, and doing standup. During these times, having colleagues just hasn’t been an option.
Of course, simply having colleagues isn’t a guarantee of support. We all know that workplaces can foster competition rather than cooperation.
Still, at least I’ll always have friends in my corner, right?
Unfortunately, circumstances and whims have often conspired to make me move cities—or countries—so I’ve often found myself far from family and friends, and having to build a new support network from scratch, at precisely the time I might need the most support.
These kinds of stories seem to be common for multipotentialites, who are often drawn to new places and tiny niches: both situations which lack easy, automatic access to support.
I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve told me they’re tired of being the only one in their corner. Whether it’s that their friends, families, colleagues or partners just don’t get it, or that they’re currently lacking those people in their lives, lots of us seem to be feeling that we’re on a team of one.
Your team exists, even if you don’t know it
Happily, if many people are struggling with the same loneliness, then none of those people are actually alone.
In fact, if this article has been up for more than a few hours, I’m confident that after you’ve finished reading it, you’ll find a bunch of people have commented something like: “I thought it was just me.”
There is a whole community of the community-less, so this is a problem of knowledge, not a problem of reality. Which means that all we need to do is to get to know some of these people who might naturally be part of your team, and voila: we have a team.
What do you need from your team?
But before attempting to befriend everybody who has commented on this article, we should start by considering our true needs. (Which makes a good first step in every circumstance, now I think about it…)
What does it mean to be on your team? Do you need a sounding board to occasionally bounce ideas off, or a life partner who will support you through thick and thin? Do you need someone to vent to about difficult clients, someone with expertise who can answer questions when you’re trying to master a new skill, or minions to live in your skull fortress while you scheme to master the universe?
Knowing what you want doesn’t necessarily make it more achievable (finding a perfect life partner might not be so simple, who knew?!)—but knowing your goals might help you find broader directions, and get your needs met— even if reality might not be absolutely ideal.
What does your team need from you?
Remember everyone else has needs, too. While it might be nice to find people who want to slavishly devote themselves to improving our lives, that—unfortunately—doesn’t make for a great team dynamic.
Entire books can be written on healthy interpersonal dynamics, but in brief we need to make sure we give as much as we get (and get as much as we give). Ideally, we find people with complementary needs and skills, so we can shore up one another’s weak points, and we communicate honestly about what we want and what we’re offering in return. For example:
“I’ve been meaning to find an accountability buddy for ages, want to encourage each other on our projects once a week?”
If you want to build a team, you have to be a team player. Or, to put it another way, only cartoon villains get to have minions—we humans have friends, colleagues and teammates instead!
Practically building a team where you are
There are two options for developing more support in your life: reconnecting with people you already know, or finding whole new team members.
(It might seem strange to consider people you already know, but sometimes we drift towards them, as well as away. It could be that that annoying person from school who appears occasionally on Facebook has changed, and is in the same boat as you are.)
As ever, the practical actions you can take depend on your individual circumstances. But you might consider some or all of the following ideas:
- Obviously, online communities for multipods are a great place to meet people who ‘get it’. Puttylike, and the Puttytribe are a good start!
- As a multipod, you have many, many specialist interests, which means you can find many, many specialist forums. This might not scratch the ‘people who get it’ itch, but it may help with venting about specific issues you’re facing.
- Try out some online co-working groups. I used these to stay connected while writing my first book, which was often a lonely process—in particular, I used the already-mentioned Puttytribe and a site called Complice, but I know there are tons of other sites where you can drop in and remotely work alongside strangers on your personal projects. This can be a great way to meet people who are looking for accountability buddies or remote colleagues (or even friends!)
- Or look for local, physical, co-working groups. I’ve found people to work with through meetup groups for entrepreneurs, writers, students and professionals, and also through adverts I’ve noticed in local libraries. A day a week of working alongside these ‘colleagues’ in a café/library does wonders for my morale!
- Consider paying people to take on some of your tasks. This is considerably more formal way of creating a team, but if you’re in a position to try it, then this could be a great step forward for you.
- Look into task trading—can you swap skills with somebody else, so you each benefit from the other’s abilities, as well as their support?
Doing anything alone is always much harder than being part of a team. Some of your work may be inherently solo, but that doesn’t mean you have to struggle through it alone. I hope these ideas help you to take practical actions towards building more of a team in your life… and, ultimately, conquering the universe and putting that nasty He-Man in his place!
Do you have people in your corner? Got any tips for strengthening support networks and creating a real team around you? Share your ideas with the community in the comments!