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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

Building an Ecosystem of Support

Recently on the Being Brown at Work podcast, I got to speak to Amelia Roberts. She’s a visibility expert and digital marketing consultant, and I was so interested in her thoughts about the importance of building a strong support system. Tune into the podcast to hear the whole conversation!

Directly outside your house, there is an entire world growing unnoticed. Soil, grass, bugs, water, and the sun work together to form a community of life that sustains and increases itself. It's a little ecosystem, and most of the time we don't even notice it.

Human lives and communities work just the same way; we're all connected together. We need to lean on each other for support, and now more than ever we need to have a good network of people on our teams to help us make progress without totally losing our minds.

Growing up, our ecosystem probably included our parents and grandparents, who provided care and support, as well as wisdom and information that they passed down. We also had our school teachers, who filled in gaps in understanding, nurtured our curiosity, and taught us how to think critically.

In our adult lives, we still may have the support of our parents, but we add to that a web of friends, mentors, and colleagues who look out for us. We may also hire out support, employing people to watch our children or clean our home. We lean on our friends for emotional support and our partners for romantic support. In turn, we provide support to others.

An ecosystem of support isn't about relying on one person or organization to give us everything we need in life; that's just not realistic or practical. We get our support from a patchwork of sources that help us move through the world.

What if we feel unsupported?

Sometimes, we may not get the support we need. Things fall through the cracks, we reject that hand offering to help us up, we act like it's easier to go alone. The result is a feeling of isolation and overwhelm that feels difficult to overcome. Everything is suddenly so much.

Often, when this happens, it’s in one or two key areas that our support ecosystem needs developing. We might not have enough support in one area (emotional, financial, professional, whatever it is) and too much support in another. Too much fertilizer is worse for plants than not enough!

The goal of a successful ecosystem is to build a community of resources that lift you up and keep you moving forward.

Understanding our needs is the key to a healthy ecosystem

This framework for thinking about the world invites us to ask several key questions of ourselves, and I'd really recommend getting out a pencil and paper and writing these down, because these are profound questions.

  • How am I being supported?

  • How could I be better supported?

  • Who am I supporting?

  • How do I receive support?

Take the answers to these questions and generate next steps for yourself. What can you do tomorrow, next week, or the next year to improve the gaps in your ecosystem?

If you’re looking to add career guidance to your ecosystem of support, you might benefit from getting a consultation with me on your calendar. I’m an experienced career coach, and I’m here to help you reach that next level position. Click here to book a one-on-one.

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