Making Changes To Your Circle
“Do you have the right support around you? Is there a gap you need to fill?”
I recently asked a social entrepreneur this question, and she snorted.
Not because she needed additional help as such, but from the absence of support from those around her.
On my coffee table I have a box of career questions from The School Of Life.
There’s one in there that makes people flinch, and it’s my favourite.
“When you imagine failing, which members of your social circle
do you suspect might not be entirely unhappy?
Why are they still in your life?”
That’s a hell of a question.
Did you instinctively think of somebody?
Who popped into your head?
You might think that you want dissenting voices in your life, to have people who will say hard things to you.
This can be helpful, with an important distinction:
Is this person’s input coming from a place of love or a place of resentment?
Hard things said with love are invaluable.
You want people to tell you when your blind spots are becoming an issue, or who will risk discomfort in order to have an important conversation.
Resentment is never valuable; this person is trying to stop you from succeeding.
It might be by encouraging you to make bad decisions, or trying to burst your balloon when you create something positive.
In the case of this social entrepreneur, it was her family.
She knows that they’re sceptical about the work she’s chosen to pursue, and would be a little pleased to see her project fall over.
Interestingly, the room was full of other people sharing their own stories – each of them had their own envious family members and toxic friendships.
Sadly, there is no neat solution, but there are ways to gradually fix the issue.
The first option is to prune your life of bad influences – I like this option but am aware that it’s not for everyone.
It’s particularly difficult with family members, as well as broader friendship groups.
Of the ones that are in your control, a good questions is
“When I finish seeing them, do I feel better or worse than before?”
The second option is to add to your “place of love” circle – this can be through mentors, coaches, new friends or your colleagues.
These are the people who you can talk about your work and your plans for the future, and can feel confident that their suggestions are designed with your best interests at heart.
The third is to transition your “place of resentment” circle into new topics – avoiding talking about your life and your work.
This might feel uncomfortable at first, but if you have trusted friends and advisors in other parts of your life, then you won’t feel such a compulsion to talk shop with these negative groups.
I think you know who these people are, and you know what needs to happen.
Good on you for making a change.
This temporary discomfort will give you a much stronger support base for years to come.