What have you done for me Lately?
I was going down memory lane a few days ago as I was penning away my new book on relationship management and concurrently refining my annual personal development plans. I started reviewing the network of people within my circle. As I was assigning value to these relationships in view of my goals and ambitions, I realised that I had quite a number that had not been adding value to me as I was to them. If anything they had been draining me immensely. As I was reminiscing, Janet Jackson’s 1986 hit song “What have you done for me lately” quickly surfaced from my childhood memory archives.
How are you defining progress?
It almost feels like yesterday when we were unveiling the freshness of a crisp January in the New Year and embracing new resolutions, goals and aspirations. Yet here we are, already bidding farewell to the month of January and bracing ourselves for the next eleven months. If you have learnt your personal development lessons well from the previous year, today will be the ideal day for you to take time to review and audit your achievements, failures and relationships as you conclude the first month of the New Year. Before you begin to measure your progress, how are you defining true progress? The definition of progress is often dominated by money, technology, and education. Until progress is well understood in its proper context, there is a danger of underestimating social, emotional and spiritual contributions to one’s well-being. So who’s got your back whilst you pursue your high and lofty goals?
Auditing your social circle
Who are the closest people surrounding you right now? Do you admire their qualities? Can you trust them to watch your back? When a person confidently says they have your back it means they are there to help you out, they will watch out and take care of the things you are likely to miss, that they are a second set of eyes and hands for you. In my new book, “The Connection Factor” which is a relationship management handbook interrogating the criteria for qualifying, auditing, maintaining and growing strategic relationships, I provide tools and guidelines for auditing social circles. I believe that you cannot accomplish great things alone or with unproductive relationships on an individual, organisational or national level. You need a team around you who will bring out the best in you. You want people who believe in you and who will go the extra mile to help you manifest your dreams. Successful people are careful to attract those who share similar values, and repel those whom they do not wish to be like. It is important to make friends with people who share the same energy and zest for life that you do. You want your inner circle to bring you up, never down. Get to know individuals who are smarter than you, and more experienced. Work with people who will challenge your opinions in an effective and intellectual way. You want to be encouraged and focused, not crestfallen and distracted by other peoples’ lack of productivity.
Who do you need around you?
The people you choose to have in your inner circle should be there for a reason. When you are on a mission to improve your wellbeing and achieve life goals, you will benefit from the support of others. Are the people in your inner circle there for you regardless of what is going on in your life? Do they help you grow and catch you when you stumble? Ideally the people who you trust and lean on can provide you with either emotional support, encouragement, informational support or tangible support. Your team can comprise of family members such as a sibling or a parent. These are good to have in your inner circle because you can be totally honest and completely vulnerable with them. They will always have your back and will love you unconditionally. Choosing a mentor who is more experienced than you, someone you admire and has accomplished or helped others accomplish similar goals is invaluable to have in your inner core. If you are blessed to have a supportive, secure significant partner, they can make an awesome inner core member. It can strengthen your relationship to confide in and to help each other. You can also bring within your inner core a best friend who is not necessarily in the same space as you are, someone who is not competing with you is invaluable to have in your corner. You can also hire someone professionally to teach and coach you in your goal. Your professional arrangement should ensure that they keep all information from your time together private.
Who is sharpening your iron?
Deciding who to let in your inner circle requires discernment and wisdom. Your personality type also matters too. Making the right choice will determine your interaction with the individual. The question that most people have is whether they should find a role model, a mentor or a coach. So what is the difference? A role model is an individual in which the behaviour is observed from a distance. A mentor is someone that the individual works with on a fairly regular basis. It involves observing the mentor but also includes the opportunity for discussion, evaluation and progress through two-way communication between the mentor and the mentee. The individual and their coach on the other hand have a task based relationship. A coach looks at you work and gives you advice on how to improve your results.
Surrounding yourself with good people is one way to maintain a healthy, balanced life. Your closest confidants and advisors are called your inner circle because they give you truth, listen to you, and sometimes provide advice. Mostly, they are individuals you trust. You might find that some of the people closest to you really do not have your best interests at heart as you might have previously thought. They might be fine as friends or acquaintances, but nothing more. You don’t need to move away from these friendships unless they are destructive, however, you do need to occasionally prune your inner circle. Ideally, your inner circle of people are those who treat you with the highest regard, so be sure to return the favour. Do kind things for your inner circle, let them know you appreciate them, and treat them with respect. Value these people because when you need them, they’ll be there for you. It’s time you surround yourself with people who have great and ambitious plans, meaningful and life transforming purposes, and big winning targets and dreams. This should be a goal in itself.