group-of-womenWhat do you believe are the ingredients for personal and professional success? On your list should be community.  I’m not talking about a large community, like the ones we build on social media networks, but a small community that provides accountability – like a personal board of directors.  It’s a small band of brothers and sisters.  They are your mutual supporters – your truth-tellers  — your team of warriors in the trenches.

All of us face challenges.  When the battle is intense the last thing we need is isolation.

“The enemy of success is isolation.”

Solitude is our friend, creating reflective thinking.  Isolation is our enemy, leading to separation, loneliness, and seclusion.  Community, accountability, presence, and inclusion provide buffers that say, “What are you doing, Where are you going, Is this working?”

Your inner circle provides support – even before the challenges appear.  What does it look like?

Here are 5 qualities that make that circle great.

1.    They are your choice.  Don’t ask for volunteers.  Choose those who reflect the values you hold.  They are in alignment with what’s important to you. They are both tender-hearted and visionary.  You choose them because they reflect who you are and what you want to be.

2.    They are candid with you.  Lapdogs won’t take you very far.  Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to be caring and candid at the same time.  No one should be chronically criticized or psychologically or verbally abused.  Yet there are those times when help cannot be separated from hurt.  Hurt is not a synonym for harm.  Just ask any surgeon.  On occasion hurting is necessary for healing.

3.    They are committed to you.  They are not only willing to be candid, but they also have the credibility to tell you the truth.  Credibility includes loyalty.  They have your best interest in mind.  Your vulnerability grows along with your trust in their intentions.  There is no suspicion of sabotage.  Your mutual commitment leads to a vulnerability-based trust.

4.    They activate creative tension in you.  Creative tension is not the same as emotional tension. It’s not anxiety.  Creative tension is produced when you know your purpose — your vision for the future, and your current reality — an honest appraisal of where you are right now.  This creates energy between these 2 points that pulls you forward – just like the energetic tension that is created when you stretch a rubber band.   It’s insightful and influential, but must be instigated.  A great inner circle helps activate it.

5.    Their questions surprise you.  In isolation my questions don’t surprise me.  There is a tendency for my personal interrogation to keep me on the same path because I’m ready for it.  In school, I was not allowed to make up my own exams. My learning would have grown stale and lethargic from the lack of surprise.  Neuroscientists tell us that when we are unsure, we tend to ask questions that move us back to familiar ground.  Times of disorientation are when we are most ripe for learning.  Yet our reflexes push us away from crucial learning points and back to what feels most comfortable.  It can become a self-defeating cycle.  Mutual supporters increase our options.

Our brain gets stretched.

Our reality gets clearer.

Our excuses get tested.

Our discoveries grow wider.

Our connections go deeper.

This kind of learning keeps us on course by asking…

What is the impact of this long term?

How will this affect others in my world?

How will this move me toward what I truly value?

I have an inner circle that identifies with my experiences, analyzes my thinking, challenges my habits, and celebrates my successes.

They impact more than a business plan.  They impact a life plan.

How does your inner circle move you forward?

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2 Responses
  1. Mick,
    This article was awesome! Our core group that we surround ourselves with is vital to success.. Steel sharpens steel. It’s the transparency and commitment to become far better than what we are that keeps us humbled and alive. I am grateful for the strong people God has brought into my life. Thank you for the words of wisdom!

  2. Mick Ukleja

    Thanks Kim. The first step in getting these kinds of folks in your inner circle is to be one yourself. You are definitely that! Being the kind of person you would like in your life attracts the same.

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