The phone rang at 6:45 on a sunny Thursday morning. Calling me was a person I’ve known for 30 years. Originally, our relationship was one of a mentor and mentee but over the years, it had evolved into a strong friendship.

A Conversation Unfolds

This young person is now only a few months short of his 40th birthday and has become very successful in all facets of life. As we talked, I listened to stories of his latest projects and the health and progress of his family. I remembered how impressionable he once was and the purposeful manner in which he had chosen to grow. As our conversation continued, he referenced how important it has been for him to have trusted people in his life.""

He explained that, even with all his current success, he still takes time to regularly check in with his inner circle. There are four people in his life who have provided him with support, advice, and direction throughout his younger years. When big decisions loom, he makes a point of gathering their perspectives.

As his expertise in business grew, he wisely added others to his circle, people whose expertise enhances and informs his next steps. He also continues to maintain and nurture all these relationships, the ones he can rely on for support in regards to values, wisdom, and principles.

He told me that, when facing big decisions, he first seeks perspective from his circle. He considers this practice foundational to his success.

The Value of the Circle

Establishing disciplines at any point in life can help with the transition into a role of leadership and influence. These disciplines include:

  • Developing time management skills
  • Becoming fiscally savvy and aware of the financial impact of decisions
  • Dedicating oneself to becoming a lifelong learner and reading often
  • Committing to frequently reflecting on one’s own performance

However, another key discipline is the creation and growth of a circle of trusted advisors. Leaders who have reached high levels of success, where they guide and influence the direction of entire organizations, have typically committed to this discipline.

There’s an adage that goes, “Advice is free, so be careful from whom you accept it.” This statement holds some validity, however it can be construed to mean that advice in general is cheap and of limited value. That is not true.

""When developing a circle of trusted advisors, your first consideration must be the quality of mentorship they will provide. Initially, this might be difficult to ascertain, and there might be some fits and starts as you consider who to include. There will also be times when going forward on your own feels easier. Instead, choose to invest in relationships that might lead to a trusted advisor. It will be time well spent.

While the process can take years, growing a circle is analogous to diversifying investments. Listening to only one piece of advice, no matter how sound, is akin to investing in a single entity. Instead, diversify by taking advantage of multiple perspectives. One person’s advice might center on the potential advantages of a decision, while another might point out possible areas of exposure.

The business and leadership landscapes are competitive and ever changing. Your investment into a circle of advisors provides a well of knowledge and perspective you can return to again and again. It’s far easier to measure twice and cut once when you possess a clear perspective of what you’re measuring and cutting. Your circle will provide that perspective.

The Connection

As my call with the young man neared its end, I reflected on the number of times we’d spoken over the years. We’d had conversations on business and personal relationships. We discussed the manner in which one chooses to conduct business, the ways in which one gives back after becoming successful, and the expectation of treating all persons with respect and dignity.""

The young man, through his own efforts and the counsel he’d willingly sought, had become an embodiment of these values.

He concluded our call by sharing that he was now mentoring a number of young people and was excited to be part of their circles. He enjoyed it when they called and were intentional about seeking his experience and wisdom in business and life. He had encouraged these folks to broaden their perspectives and widen their circles to include viewpoints that would challenge them. After all, doing so had been an invaluable experience for him, and he looked forward to calling upon his own circle for many years to come.

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