When you look around your business and your life who do you see? Yep, it’s cool to have those fun friends but are they around when times are not so fun? I know very few business leaders who have a large inner circle. In Dr. Robb Thompson’s book The 10 Critical Laws of Relationship Dr. Thompson discusses many things including his criteria for being in relationship with him. Though some think his criteria rigid I think it’s awesome! Dr. Thompson’s book is one of my favorites; I’ve read it many times and highly recommend it.
What about you…who do you allow in your circle? Yes, that’s right who do you allow – relationship should be earned not given. As business owners our time is at a premium; who we allow in our circle should be limited to those who add value to our lives. My mother used to say ‘Our friends we pick our relatives we are stuck with’. Mom didn’t sugar coat many things. Regardless of how that statement resonates with you I believe it’s true. Unfortunately there may be family members who should not be in our inner circles. They may be ‘basement people’ who are negative and suck the life out of us. In their defense it’s possible they don’t know any other way to live or think. Depending on the person we may be able to encourage them to think differently or not.
Family aside what is your criteria for selecting those who speak into your life? Is this something you think about? It can be very difficult to extricate someone you’ve allowed into your circle however it can be done. Ask yourself this question ‘Am I excited to see them and spend time with them or do I want to run the opposite direction when I see them?’ The answer will speak volumes. This second question should eliminate any remaining uncertainty ‘How do I feel when I’m in their presence and after I depart?’ If you are energized and elated they are probably good for you; if you are depressed and exhausted it’s time for them to go.
Similar to my colleagues, I’ve experienced peaks and valleys in the journey of business ownership. For the most part I’ve had terrific clients for which I’m extremely grateful. In the few times when nightmare clients arose I questioned many things including my expertise, why I had allowed them into my business, etc. Unfortunately, if we allow it, the negative voice of the minority can speak louder than the positive voice of the majority. Times like those put my carefully chosen inner circle into action. They offered support and encouragement but didn’t blow sunshine. They helped me see many things (Including my weaknesses and shortcomings) AND helped me get back up and move forward.
Our inner circle is also there to celebrate our wins and support us when we make changes in our business. As leaders we know that we must always move forward however stepping out on that ledge can be scary. When you have the right folks in your inner circle they will be there to encourage you to leap or take baby steps – whatever they feel you can handle.
I leave you with a bit of homework. Think about those in your circle and ask yourself the questions above. Only you know the answers. We can only grow as people and professionals with the right folks in our corner.