The other day, someone asked me how I had amassed the lamplighters in my community. Let me back up for a moment and explain the concept of lamplighters. Lamplighters, for those not familiar with how I use the term, are those people who are invested in your success — as you define it. There are those who believe that they know better than you what your success should look like — these are not your lamplighters.

So back to the question of where to find them. Lamplighters are individuals that you know and trust. By default, this means that you assemble your lamplighter community over time. This starts by seeing the person in action. These experiences allow you to understand the gifts that the individual might be able to offer you on your journey. Maybe they are a great cheerleader — someone who can help you to see and celebrate your progress. Maybe they are someone who can help pick you up and dust you off when you stumble and fall on your journey. Maybe they are someone who can hold up the mirror for you and help you take a good hard look at how your actions may not be aligned with the vision you’ve set for yourself. Maybe they can give you a firm kick in the pants when you’re getting in your own way.

But just knowing what they might be able to offer you is not enough. You also need to trust that they are invested in you achieving your vision of success. You build trust with these individuals through shared experiences. Part of building that trust is valuing not only what they do (the gifts mentioned above) but how they do it. Are they able to give you feedback in a way that you can take it in even when it is not what you want to hear? When you are struggling with something, do you know that you can reach out to them to gain a different perspective, garner their wisdom, or to be challenged by thought-provoking questions that recenter you on your vision?

As you compile your lamplighters, it is likely that the individuals will have more than one gift and that some of their gifts will overlap with one another. That’s not a bad thing. In the first case, it helps you to understand who in your community you want to reach out to for which issue. For example, when you’ve just made what feels like an irreversible mistake, you most likely need the person who pick you up and dust you off. It may be a bit before you are ready to engage the person who can give you a swift kick to get you moving again. And, in the second case, having more than one person that you can reach out to helps if one of them isn’t available in your time of need.

As a point of reference, my current lamplighter community is comprised of 6 people. Because they are clear on my vision of success, not only can I reach out to them, but they also reach out to me. They may tell me about an opportunity that seems aligned with the direction I am headed in or ask me to explain something they’ve seen me do that seems contrary to what I’ve told them I want for myself.

In each case, it’s not as though I’ve reached out to them and said, “Will you be a lamplighter for me?” It’s been a far more natural building of the relationship over time. When I feel they are someone who I trust and respect and who could potentially serve as a lamplighter for me, I share with them the vision I have for my success. As I do, I watch for their reaction. Do they tell me all of the reasons this should not be my vision? Do they tell me what they think my vision should be? Or, do they get curious and want to understand more about why this is my vision? Those that fall into this last line of questioning typically become my lamplighters.

How have you built your lamplighter community?