Who is Traveling with You?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden had a quote that I just love, “There is a choice you have to make in everything you do, so keep in mind that in the end, the choice you make makes you.” Our life’s journey is full of choices, and one of the most important choices is selecting who will travel with us. Who will be our confidants, coaches, advisors, and encouragers? In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell explains Law 11, The Law of the Inner Circle. Have you given much thought to who makes up your inner circle?

When I was a kid, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost too.” Humorous but also tragically true. Human nature draws us to people who are in a similar place in life and mood. The danger in this is that these people can’t help us. If we want to apply the Law of the Inner Circle, we need to be highly intentional in relationship building. We usually fail to realize that we take on the characteristics of those we associate with the most. If we are with positive people, we will be more positive; if we hang with a bunch of negative people, we will be more negative. So what should we look for in our traveling companions?

  • Are they people of character who value others? This needs to be the first two characteristics we look for. The foundation is the most critical part of a structure. If it fails, the structure crumbles. Without character, bad choices are made and the structure of life will crumble. We need people in our lives who help us maintain our character and hold us accountable. An extension of character is valuing people. You want someone who lives their life looking to lift others up, not pull them down.
  • Do they bring a complementary skill or giftedness to the table? When I was the president of Selflock Screw Products, we made sure that we had a board of directors who brought skills to the table that the owner and I lacked. We were strong in manufacturing know-how but weak in marketing and sales. We made sure that we partnered with the right advisors for financial and legal questions. Our life is just like an organization. Who do we need to establish a relationship with to bring new skills into our inner circle?
  • Do you like them? I know this sounds obvious, but don’t forget that they will be your traveling companion. You need to like them as a person. I know what you are thinking, what if I need some skills and the person who has them just doesn’t click with me? You bring them in as a subject matter expert when you need that resource. When the questions come up, you invite them to grab a cup of coffee. They will feel honored that you valued their expertise.

If this topic is resonating with you, please join Marisa Norcross and me for Episode 177 of The Next Page podcast as we look at the signs of a good fit for our inner circle and some relationship review questions. I hope you will choose to join us.

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