The Power of Fans

Years ago, I had a good friend who loved to play tennis.  Al wasn’t a tennis star.  He just loved to play and he especially loved to win!  I’m not much of a tennis player myself but my son is pretty good, and he enjoyed Al’s company. 

One day the two of them went off to play a few sets on the town tennis courts.  As my son tells the story the sets were split pretty evenly and during the final set the score was tied and kept switching back and forth in favor of each of the players. 

There was now a group of people waiting to use the court and of course watching the “end” of the game between my son and Al. 

It is what Al did next that struck my son and me as both ingenious and funny.  He approached the people who were waiting and told them if they wanted the court to be available quickly, they needed to cheer wildly every time he got a point. 

They followed his instructions, cheering wildly each time Al made a point and standing silently when my son made a point.  Sure enough Al won the game!  Now that gives new meaning to “home court advantage”.  Cheering fans definitely make the team and/or player(s) feel really supported.

I sang in a gospel choir for many years and when we sang, we always felt excited when the audience got to their feet and clapped and danced to our singing.  That support energized us and made our performance even better.

Now that the quarantine period is ending and sports teams are considering playing without fans in the stands, you have to wonder how players will manage.  Some teams are having players sit in the stands instead of the bench to give a semblance of fans there.  Maybe a recording of fans cheering would work?

There are two ways people get support for what they do.  First they get support from the customers, fans, or bosses. That is how you know someone is pleased with your work.  The other way you get support is from people who help you to reach your goals.  We need both kinds of support in our lives and our careers.

How do you ensure that you get the support you need?  Whether you are looking for a job, hoping to be promoted in your company or are building your own business or professional practice, you will need the support of others to ensure your success. 

The first type of support you get from a manager who praises your work, a customer who buys your product or service or people in the stands applauding or cheering for you. A job prospect gets support when he/she gets a job offer.

The second type might come from a mentor, a family member or a coach. For some it may be a mentor that has taken an interest in them.  The person provides advice, introductions, and a sounding board for problems and challenges.  Good mentors know how to listen well.

Some people hire a coach to support and mentor them.  Coaches are specially trained to guide people in their career. They ask questions to help clients get really clear about their next steps. They offer feedback and acknowledgment to their clients. Constructive feedback is helpful and so is glowing praise.  Who does that for you?

I’ve had clients who rely on family members for that support.  People who love you often have an agenda that may be harmful to you and your career.  Their agenda isn’t a bad one.  They want you to avoid taking a risk and to be safe and happy. 

There are often risks with a career or business that only you can decide about.  A person who is good at supporting you can help you to see the risks clearly and help you to determine if it is worth taking. 

Even during this pandemic you can still get mentoring and coaching virtually.  You might even set a Zoom conference so you can see each other.

But what about the type of audience support that athletes and entertainers get. Can you feel the crowd’s enthusiasm even if there are no crowds in the stands? 

When my friend got the people on the sidelines to cheer for him, he had to make himself believe that they were really in his corner.  Because he loved to win so much (and did win frequently), it wasn’t hard for him to do that.

It might be more difficult for performers and athletes to get this type of support during the pandemic.  The fans won’t be there. They will have to have a strong vision of that support to succeed or they will have to wait until the pandemic is over.

Take Action

  1. Make a list of the people in your life that support you.  You may have several different people for different areas of your life ie career coach, clergy person, parent, therapist etc.
  2. Negative feedback can be helpful but if someone continually gives you negative feedback, they may not be the best person to help you.  Do you have anyone who is always negative?  How might you distance yourself from that person? 
  3. How do you measure your success in your work? Is it from applause, cheers, purchases, compliments, testimonials ?  Is the pandemic and resulting quarantine preventing your getting this type of support? How are you coping?

Let’s help each other.

“Unprecedented” is a word I hear a lot these days.  The pandemic and quarantining has made this a challenging time.  No one knows what to expect.  People make projections but no one knows for sure. It can be a scary time.  I think you and I can help each other.  I love coaching people and clients tell me I am a good listener.  When I feel I am making a contribution I feel better about the present. If you are feeling lost in this new environment and just want to talk to someone about your concerns, I am offering my services at no charge.  Sometimes just talking about something makes you feel better.  I’ll ask you some questions to clarify things in your mind.  Perhaps that will bring up some new ideas for you.  We both will get something out of the session!  Please email me at or call me on my cell phone 617-240-5353 to schedule some time.


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