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Your Inner Circle - There for the Grind not the Shine

Updated: Jul 3

We have all heard it – "keep your friends close but your enemies closer." One of the gravest and most strategic mistakes you will ever make is mistaking frenemies for friends. To quote Thomas Paine, "these are the times that try men's souls" and as a leader, you will rue the day when you have unwittingly welcomed summer soldiers and sunshine patriots inside your inner circle. Those only there for the shine but not the grind.

As a leader or aspiring leader, you have to be especially careful because not only do people watch you more closely in hopes of you messing up, some will even “friend” you to get closer to you to help ensure you mess up. If you don’t believe this, keep living.
So what type of people should you include in your inner circle? The longer you live and the longer you lead, you will learn this one powerful truth. No matter how much some people appear to support you, admire you or how closely they follow you on social media - many of those you think are legit are as fake as fool's gold and you would be a fool to believe otherwise!

Trust has to be proven. It is the one thing that should never be given but earned. Trust is the last and most valuable thing we should bestow on people because a trusted friend is priceless but a fake one will sell you out at any price. And the impact can be costly.
Jesus prayed all night long before choosing those who would constitute his inner circle and we must do our due diligence as well.

From experience and through betrayals and trickery, I have learned the most important characteristics we should look for before considering anyone as part of our inner circle. And nine out of ten isn't good enough. It only took one to betray Jesus! It's not about perfection, but character. The higher you climb, the smaller your circle will become. Not because you get snooty, but smart. And it happens naturally overtime as these you will find are keepers:
  • One not intimidated by your success and who knew you when. Before the success and title. They are neither jealous nor intimidated by your success because they are comfortable in their own skin and are successful in their own right.

  • One who loves you for you if you had no title or influence at all. Those who love you because of your position or title aren’t friends, they’re groupies. And when your title or influence leaves, so will they.

  • One who will tell you the truth about you. My goodness, you need this person! This person will tell you the truth whether you like it or not because they are always looking out for your best interest. Every leader who would be successful has an accountability partner.

  • One not impressed by your press. Point-blank.

  • A praying friend. The most important friend in your inner circle is one who can get to God when you’re so broken you can’t. Trust me on this one – every leader gets there at some point. A praying friend with whom you can be vulnerable, real, and unafraid or ashamed to share your pain, struggles or temptations. Without this person in your corner and in your ear, it will be far easier to give in even worse, give up.

  • Someone who doesn’t need you – hello! The more successful you become, the more your life will be overrun by needy people. But only if you allow it. People who need your name and influence to either feed off of or use to get their foot into someone's door. If they need you to build up themselves or their resume, they will be among the first to tear you down when they've made it -- on the strength of your name!

  • One who respects your spouse, family, and most of all, your privacy. Loose lips sink ships and they sure will sink yours! Privacy is to be valued like the rarest of gems because when you lead, prying eyes always want to peep inside your bedroom, closet, or into your business. Once your privacy is compromised, Kings X, game over. Everyone on social media will know. Loose lips sink ships but tight lips keep them afloat.

  • One who will defend you when you don’t even know you need defending. Your ride or die. They will never be silent when your name comes up in a negative way and will defend you, your name, character, and integrity like a pit bull. You never have to worry about what they will say about you in your absence.

  • One who is smarter. True leaders seek out smart people because one of the hallmarks of a great leader is the never-ending quest to learn and the humility and recognition that they don't know it all.

  • One who is wiser. Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

As leaders and aspiring leaders, we are known by three things – our record, how we roll, and who we roll with. The higher you rise, the tighter should be your inner circle, resembling closely the above. Look around your circle. It may be time to stop the elevator and let some people off.

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