Who is in your inner circle?

By Afeef Hussain

When we need help, guidance, support, ideas, suggestions, feedback; who do we ask? What platforms do we use? Who do we usually sit and discuss? How many of us have friends or professional colleagues that they can trust to direct and guide them to a more significant cause when in need?

Through this post of wisdom, I would like to share how vital it is to build an inner circle that will help you reach your potential.

Your inner circle refers to the people that you hang out with, often meet up to discuss personal or work-related issues, community matters or growth opportunities. It could also be the network of people you receive guidance, both professionals or individuals, or even challenging you at times when required. Your inner circle could include your family members, relatives, friends, colleagues, school mates, community leaders and most importantly people that know you well or have built a level of trust over the years.

I am sure we all remember moments of having a conversation with someone, and at the end of it you feel mentally drained. There are also times when the opposite happens; at the end of such discussions you feel energised and motivated to get going.

It all depends on who you speak with and who you let to be in your inner circle. Life is too short to be linked with inner circle members who always complain, never take responsibility, and always aim to shoot and blame others.

One attribute that I would compliment for some of the achievements I have experienced over the years is “being intentional about who I spent time with”. When you are intentional about who you spend time with, who you share challenges and ideas with, you build a reliable network of inner circle contributors over time.

To achieve a tremendous level of success, we need people around us. We need people that will drive us to achieve our goals, inspire and lead through, and advance to various steps in our life.

John Maxwell, in one of his most favourite books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Law number 11; The Law of the Inner Circle, states that “a leaders potential is determined by those closest to them”.

Over the years, I have seen many leaders fail, and one of the reasons is who they have in their inner circle.

I remember a particular case of a bright student during my high school days who lost his ways, and was arrested and jailed for years. Yes, it was due to who he was spending most of his time with during school breaks and weekends. I remember guiding him and telling him to change his behaviour and to think of what he was doing. He did not listen and I chose not to be in his inner circle. While I feel sorry for his current situation and life, I would say he had the opportunity to choose it intentionally.

At the same time, I remember a story of a friend of mine, who took a different path just because in his inner circle he had dreamers, doers and believers. Today, he manages his own company.

Imagine a moment where you were having a coffee with three of your closest friends and all they spoke during the coffee was about other people (those who were not present in that moment) and their flaws. What energy or new ideas you think you may have got from that coffee meeting or was it just a waste of time?

We also have the choice of having a coffee meeting and discuss ideas, suggestions to improve, check on each other’s professional and personal goals. Towards the end, you will feel inspired, energised and motivated to do even more.

We all have 24 hours, and we have a choice on how we want to spend our time with people and what we want to discuss. Choosing who we want to be in our inner circle is a choice we all have. No one can just come and say, “Hey can I be in your inner circle”? Unless you let them in!

Having an inner circle of professional and personal friends does not mean they are going to be easy on you. One of my friends and mentors is Ron Kaufman. I remember giving a speech in an audience where Ron was present, and towards the end Ron sat with me for nearly 60 minutes and shared a set of points that I should keep in mind for my next speech. The feedback was so detailed that he had points per slide.

Now that’s the type of professionals you want in your inner circle. It does not need to be just Ron, but it can be anyone that will value your time and their time and genuinely wants you to improve.

I also remember the time when we formed the Maldives Association of HR Professionals, and I asked Ron, “Who should I meet that can help me to guide this organisation to a different level?” Ron connected me with Frederic Haren and a couple of other senior members of the Asia Professional Speakers Association based in Singapore. Those connections made me a better person. I am forever grateful for these inner circle connections.

There are several factors we can determine to consider who we want to bring into our inner circle. It could be due to their level of influence with others, set of values and guiding principles that add value to your circle, the certain strategic positions they hold within the community or an organisation, or how they find ways to make other people’s lives better because of their presence or actively work to impact others positively.

There are certain qualities you can expect from your inner circle. If you are not getting the best value out of your inner circle, it’s time you move on and create an inner circle that will help you reach your goals.

The list of qualities, expectations and learning from those who will be in your my inner circle could vary. But the best inner circle members are those who:

  • Challenge you: it is worth having inner circle colleagues or friends that can challenge you. Your inner circle will see your behaviour more than the others. They are observing you most of the time. When they challenge you and give you hope and encouragement, they are doing it because they know you can do better. They don’t necessarily have to agree with everything you say; rather, they should share their honest feedback and stimulate conversations that will help you to get better. (This is my favourite point).
  • Live with an attitude of gratitude.
  • Will actively listen to you
  • Will help you to get through it with the right guidance
  • Want to make you a better person
  • Encourage you to reach your potential and goals
  • Are willing to learn from you and others in your inner circle
  • Will inspire you to aim higher and lead you in transforming yourself
  • Take responsibilities
  • Advocate and live with a ‘growth mindset

If your inner circle isn’t talking about opening and trying new business opportunities, personal growth and investment, healthy lifestyles, self-development, then it’s time to find a new circle. Your network is your net worth.

There is a saying, “You are the average of five people you spend time with.”

Your inner circle is your choice! Choose intentionally!

Note: Afeef Hussein is the Regional Director of Training, Development and Quality Assurance at LUX* Resorts & Hotels. He also serves as the President of Maldives Association of HR Professionals (MAHRP), and is an intentionally certified and recognised keynote speaker and coach.

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