A few months ago, I spent some quality time with a colleague of mine working through important organization development. I was new on the job, and we got to know each other very quickly through working together in a series of meetings. I noticed right away that we each had different approaches when we met with various individuals, and this quickly began to cause tension between us.
Finally, we had to sit down and talk about our different approaches. By the time we had finished that conversation, I was able to make a distinction in my mind that has completely changed the way I approach relationships in life.
We all have experience with people we go to for advice (or those who give it, regardless). Between work, church, and family, I'd venture to guess that most of us have at least a half dozen advisors, and every advisor has something different to bring to the table. Unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to identify the best approach to take with each person.
The distinction I was able to make in that conversation months ago has revolutionized the approach I take with my advisors today, and how fruitful those relationships have become, both in my work and personal life.
That distinction is the difference between a counselor and a supporter.
Counselors are those few people who you trust and respect the most or those you have the deepest relationships with. These are also the ones that you know have your back—no matter what. You need to open up to them and share your fears, frustrations, and concerns. You rely on them to give you constructive advice (even criticism) and tell you where you need to rethink your vision. Counselors know when to praise and encourage you, and when to challenge you to achieve your true potential.
In OCF, our counselors include veteran Spiritual Advisors, past staff members, and successful leaders from other ministries within the Orthodox Church. We as staff need counsel from each of them in order to learn from our mistakes, realize our potential, and hone our vision.
Supporters are those who you rely on for a steady stream of support. Their support may be in the form of a financial contribution, or they may offer counsel from a unique perspective or expertise. These advisors are just as important as the counselors because you need their support to thrive. You need to share your success stories with your supporters, as well as your vision. They are the ones who will usually scale their support alongside your success. Often they can be the most encouraging, uplifting advisors—if you handle your relationship correctly.
Our OCF supporters include major donors, program sponsors, and campus ministry experts. Without their support, we wouldn't exist at all.
Ever since I've started thinking of my advisors in terms of counselors and supporters, I've been better able to meet their needs and build strong relationships. I'm also better off because I've gained much more from each relationship. I imagine this is a distinction I will keep in mind for a long time.
Question: Do you know who your counselors and who your supporters are?