This morning one of my excellent image consultant colleagues in California, Brenda Kinsel, posted this question on Facebook and it really got me thinking. When you get started looking at your image in depth and start going for what you really want in life, it’s extremely important to have great cheerleaders. Ideally, you want to have people who encourage your journey, support you in your decisions and offer gentle feedback when things are wavering on and off track, as they tend to do when you’re trying new things, in image development and elsewhere in your personal growth.

I started to reflect on my personal cheerleaders and realized I had three distinct types of cheerleaders and that all three were valuable and necessary.

Type One – “Of course you can.”

This type of cheerleader loves you and encourages you no matter what. If you think you can do it, their automatic response is some version of ‘yes’.  For me, my husband, his family, my cousins and dear friends fall into this category.  David confessed to me last year that he initially thought I was crazy for starting a full time image consulting business in the recession (2009), but he was glad he hadn’t said anything then. So was I – without his unqualified support, I might have never gotten to celebrate the growth of the past years in myself and in the people I work with.

This type of cheerleader is great for those times of deep second guessing, self-doubt and fear.  They let you weep, they let you get mad, they let you stumble and they’re always there quietly saying, ‘It’s okay, you’re growing and doing a great job.” They see your image shifting and let you know it’s looking and feeling more and more like your real self every day.

Type Two – “How will you do that?”

This type of cheerleader says ‘yes’ and takes it a step further. For me, business coaches and colleagues fall into this category. They not only see your journey and help normalize it (which is great if you’ve never been an entrepreneur before or entered into any kind of personal development process), they also offer great advice on top of the yes factor such as, “What steps will you need to take next?” “What’s the first thing you need to do?” “Here is a structure that might help.” “Here is a formula that will help you figure out if that investment (in time, tools, space, etc.) will pay off.”

This type of cheerleader is like a scaffold that helps you not only move forward from self-doubt, but also gives you some structure to build on. They allow for your humanity and emotion when things are challenging, but are always there kicking you gently in the butt to help you get moving. These ones let you know when you need to keep upping your game, polishing your image, making it continue to reflect your best self.

Type Three – Inspiring Souls

Finally, there are the other general cheerleaders, those motivational people that speak to thousands but somehow their message feels tailored just to you. People that appear in those amazing TED Talks like Brene Brown, who talks about vulnerability. People who speak and motivate for a living, like Lisa Nichols. It’s always good to have a few of those in your pocket for inspiration in case one of your Type One or Two cheerleaders aren’t around. You can always access Type Threes on the ‘net or in their books, so they’re readily available to provide support in an instant. They’re also out there to show that it’s possible for one person to influence thousands, to show up as an example that keeps whispering “it’s okay to be big, if that’s what you want – I’m here, which means you can be here too.”

These ones let you visualize what your image might be if it were as big as it could possibly be and let you see how being your best, truest (if that’s not a word, it should be!) and most fabulous self, fearlessly, can benefit the world at large.

Take a moment to reflect today on who your cheerleaders are and possibly send a shout out to one or two, so they know you benefit from their influence in your life. As well, think about what kind of cheerleader you are and for whom. How do you benefit others through your guidance and support, either professionally (as I and others do in image development for our clients) or personally with friends and family? It’s terrific to realize you’re in a network of support, both being held up and holding up others as well.

As Brenda asked this morning, “Who are your cheerleaders?” Let them know you care.