It’s important to be selective with the people you invite into your inner circle. Your closest friends and co-workers will greatly impact the course of your future. Partly because of God’s grace, and also partly because of the sometimes unpleasant process of trial and error, I’ve arrived at these four criteria for people that I allow into my close circle. To the extent that you have the ability to be selective about these connections in your life, you may find these guidelines useful.
The people in my close circle must be…
1. People with whom I share goals.
I want to be inspired by the same possibilities as the people with whom I’m in a relationship. When you share a goal with someone, it’s easier for you to understand each other, and work together. No matter how exceptional a person is, if they are headed in a different direction, it doesn’t make sense to join forces. You’ll pull against each other. It’s no wonder that recent research into marital success revealed that one of the key elements to successful marriage was shared goals.
2. People who have the ability to think outside the box.
Life is full of possibilities. If you’re like me, you have a constant stream of thoughts, ideas, and potential opportunities to pursue. Out-of-the-box thinkers have the ability to sift through that stream, and separate the great opportunities and thoughts from the pedestrian ones. Additionally, they have the talent of taking things that seem ordinary and seeing what amazing things could be done with them. These are the kind of people I want around me because they have the rare gift of discernment. They have a potential-detector.
3. People who are unafraid to tell me the honest truth, even when I don’t want to hear it.
I’m married to a truth-teller. When I preach on a weekend, and I ask my wife what she thought of the message, she’ll tell me. The truth. That doesn’t mean that she’s negative, or inconsiderate. It means that she answers the questions I ask without sugar-coating or altering the truth. It’s because of her willingness to be honest that I run almost all my writing by her. I know that when she says “that’s really good,” she means it. I never have to wonder if I’m getting the whole truth. That’s the kind of person you want in your close circle, because flattery or criticism (the opposite of flattery) won’t help you develop. You need people who are willing to give you their honest impression. Without getting realistic input from others, how will you know when you’re growing?
4. People who are skilled in the areas I’m not.
Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by people who are smarter than you. Those are the people you need on your team. Believe me, I don’t want my potential to be limited to my brain power. I want people around me who have big ideas and knowledge on how to achieve them. None of us can know everything. But the more our team knows, the more we can accomplish together.
These are the criteria I’ve come up with. I can’t wait to hear about yours. Join the discussion in the comments, and share a little bit about what it takes for a person to make it into your inner circle.