Tuesday, April 16, 2024


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Illustration: Christina Avdikou

Sometimes in life success, happiness, physical and mental health is not an individual achievement, but is due to the person who supports you and helps you grow.

I met my best friend in high school. It was an unexpected friendship born when a professor moved me from the last desk to the first because I was talking to the one next to me. I sat next to her. A shy, reserved girl, who I could never hang out with. Almost 30 years later, I love her more than my sister. Because our friendship was literally built on a foundation that we built little by little, each time supporting each other led to the achievement of our goals.

Our relationship didn’t exactly start as friendship, but rather as… collaboration. She agreed to help me with Maths, either explaining what I didn’t understand, or letting me copy in the tests. I volunteered to help her open up and socialize. When she wanted to lose weight a few years later, I took it upon myself to be her fitness coach, setting her fitness goals and calling her home in the afternoon to check on what she ate and suggest dinner ideas. Already within 3 months she had seen results, which of course I celebrated with her!

In Panhellenic, we encouraged each other by reading. We would talk on the phone about how many pages each had read in History and try to cover the distance to get to the same chapter. We both got into the schools we wanted.

With boys the goals were more complicated. In order not to “roll over” and call the one I liked first, I would take my “partner in crime” and tell her what I would tell him. Of course, nothing has changed in this area since then, even now that we are both married. She supports me and I support her in everything, we can totally rely on each other and when we screw up we know we have the most benevolent listener to hold us accountable and pick us back up.

Accountability partner: The person who supports you to develop

In England and America, the person who helps you develop in your life and achieve your personal or professional goals is called an “accountability partner” (accountable is the one who has the responsibility, who is called to account).

The value of this person was proven by a recent American study , according to which you are 65% more likely to achieve a goal if you tell someone else that you are committed to it. If the person checks you systematically, your chances of success increase to 95%.

The idea comes from Alcoholics Anonymous, each of which is assigned a specific “sponsor” to guide them on the difficult road to sobriety.

Psychologist Suzy Reading tells the Guardian that there are usually two types of people who support you to grow :

  • The former acts as a mentor, offering the other his wisdom.
  • The second involves two people who are committed to a common goal and work equally well together to achieve it.”

Reading believes it’s a relationship that has become increasingly popular in recent years because it offers something that had begun to decline: a “ritual intimacy,” as she describes it.

“The element of social connection and shared experience makes all the difference. Having a friend check in on you every year and share your progress with them can play a big role, not only in reaching your goals, but also in your overall well-being ,” adds the psychologist.

How to find the person who will help you evolve in your life

Illustration: Christina Avdikou


And we’re not talking about terribly big goals. It can be as simple as committing to walking for 20 minutes every day. Pick a person (a friend or family member) you’ll be accountable to, and send them a picture of yourself every time you go for a walk.

This commitment can sound exhausting if you haven’t learned to operate this way. However, it is not, if you follow a common way of thinking with this person. A businessman who met his business buddy, that is, the person who supports him to develop professionally, in a seminar they attended together, describes to the Guardian: “At the end of the seminar I asked him if he would like to communicate from time to time to discuss the techniques sales that we had just learned there. So we made it a point to talk every day at 6:45 in the morning, discussing our progress. Not a weekday has gone by that we have missed a phone call. And in all this communication, I also send him the kilometers I do every day on the run, while he keeps me informed about the issues he has with his children.”

Everything becomes easier and more fun when you have a person who supports you, who encourages you, who applauds you for your effort and thus helps you to develop! This way it helps you not to give up even when disappointments come. If you know he’s waiting for your photo, you’re more likely to go for a walk despite your fatigue. Even more so if this person comes with you for a walk!

“We’re not always good at putting our own needs first, but most people don’t want to let others down. Unfortunately, we’re more likely to commit to someone else than to ourselves, ” Reading notes.

How do you find the person who will help you develop?

“What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asks the horse boy, his own supportive companion, in Charlie Mackesy’s amazing book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. “Help” , the horse replies to him and that is probably where the whole essence of creating relationships of trust and mutual support that will take you forward in life is hidden.

Rather, this is the only way to find the person who supports you to grow, since, as psychotherapist Kamalyn Kaur says, “most people are happy to help.” And that person doesn’t necessarily have to be your good friend. “What you need is to find someone with the same level of will and energy. Not someone more dynamic than you, because he can exhaust you, nor someone lazier who certainly won’t get you anywhere.”

“Furthermore, this person must feel very good about themselves . Not to feel jealous if e.g. you do better at something you do together. Don’t make it competitive. I see this happening very often when someone chooses their partner for this role”, she adds.

“Finally, the person supporting you can’t have too high of a goal for both of you, even if it’s in their nature to push themselves too hard. This can lead to failure for both.”

Failure, of course, is always part of the plan in such a relationship, especially when you don’t know the other person well. For this reason, experts recommend that you always leave a margin of time, a trial period , to see if the “partnership” can proceed. During this time you will discover if you need to change any agreements or if you should simply stop. Also, you can if you want to set a time horizon for achieving the goal.

“The secret of success lies in thinking about what we can offer to the other person and what they can offer to us,” concludes Reading. “The person we choose to support us needs to be compassionate and not judgmental. To be able to trust it, to really care about our success. And we must be able to offer him the same.”

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