As we go through life and business, we will have relationships with a lot of people. Some will be lasting, some will be short lived. You will find that your inner circle - those you interact with consistently is fairly small, but incredible important to your life.
You have probably heard that "You are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with most." While I think there is validity to this point, I also think that you have a choice as well. You don't have to do or live the life of those around you. You can choose what makes sense for you to utilize from those close to you and what not to. But, there is no doubt those closest to you influence you.
Over the years, I have found that you really need 5 types of people in your life to help you be your best. Here they are.
The companion is the one you spend the most time with. The person that is always there for you and you for them. For most, this would be their significant other. If you don't have a significant other, it is the person you count on most and that most counts on you. For me, it is my wife, Jenn. She is the most amazing, caring, and brave individual I know. The fact that she married me is a testament to this. I am as flawed as anyone, but my flaws are not easy to live with. I am always going, non-stop, sometimes going to excess in areas of my life. I am persistent and driven to a point where it can really wear on people. I am a little bit of a control freak in certain areas of life. I am not afraid to speak my mind even if it makes people uncomfortable. This is just to name a few. It takes a strong, but different type of person to balance that out and help me to get perspective in certain areas. Jenn does that and more. I would not have made the strides I've had in my life without her help, understanding, love, and tough love.
The friend is someone besides your companion that you can let your guard down with. Someone you can can count on and even embarrass yourself in front of and still know they will be there for you. They are someone who is not afraid to have tough conversations or call you out, but also back you up and help you. You can count on them and know that through it all, they know who you are and you know who they are. It's rare to have a lot of these people in your life. It is usually just a handful over the years. Someone that I put into this category is my next door neighbor, Eugene. He is a wonderful person and good friend. He is one of the few people that I will actually let my guard down with and be more open about things personally. Our conversations, especially over a bottle of wine, can go in all directions and cover many topics. We certainly don't agree on everything and sometimes get a little heated, but no matter what, at the end of an evening, we part ways as friends and respect each other. Everyone should have a friend like Eugene.
The listener is someone who can be a friend or even a companion - but let's face it, if your companion is a significant other, they have to listen. The listener is the person you know you can go to when you just need someone to hear you out. You know they will not pass judgement on you and will not try to convince you one or another, they will just listen, and then help talk things out if you want to do so. These people are critical in life, not just as a sounding board, but for your sanity. My business partner of almost 20 years, Erik, is the listener in my life. And in some ways, I am his. He is also a great friend. Erik has a way about him that helps put you at ease and helps you in times of need. He listens, is thoughtful, asks the right questions, and doesn't push unless I need him to. He seems to have a good sense for when it makes sense to do so. A listener must be someone who truly, genuinely cares and is rare to find.
The wise is someone who is experienced in life, has gained tremendous wisdom, and is willing to offer that wisdom to you when you need it. They are a guide for you to come back to as you go through life and help you when you stray off your path or feel lost. They also help you find and confirm the right ways to go. They are a mentor. My parents have certainly been wise ones in my life and are always willing to give of themselves for their children, grandchildren, and friends. Another wise person I have been fortunate to know is John. John is the former CEO of a Fortune 500 and very successful person in all areas of his life. He has tremendous wisdom and I can always count on him for help if I need it. The wise are few and far between and not easy to find. And this makes sense because it takes time and experience to acquire wisdom. As a side note, the Bible, especially Proverbs is great place to get wisdom on your own.
The challenger is someone who does just that. Challenges you. They push you. They challenge your boundaries. The help you think bigger. They take you out of your comfort zone. They ultimately elevate you. I have been fortunate to be the challenger for some and help them in their lives. It is a very important duty. I have had a number of challengers in my life from great coaches, business mentors, and teachers. Right now, one of my challengers is my daughter, Hannah. She challenges me in all the ways an 8 year old challenges a parent. But more importantly, she challenges me in becoming a better father and man in my life. As I said above, I have many flaws, and am far from perfect and it seems children are some of the best challengers to expose those things and make you confront them. And based on the current status, I still have a lot of work to do. But, I know each day I can get better and must strive to. Oh, I will falter, no doubt, but I am up for the challenge and love that it is coming from the incredible daughter that I love so much.
Everyone would be lucky to have all 5 of these types of people in their lives, and if you look around, you probably do. The next step is to engage them and maximize the impact they can have in your life.
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