Grandma Understood the Law of the Inner Circle

When I was a little girl, I remember my grandmother telling me “you are the company you keep.” I was consciously aware in my primary and teenage years that I would be influenced by the people I chose to be in relationship with, and I would likewise be influencing them. Thanks to my grandmother’s advice, I primarily chose friends with similar values who had good moral character, and leaders in the school environment who worked to make a difference in community activities. Those times when I wanted to “fit in” and kept company with kids who didn’t fit that description, I found myself making poor decisions and having to deal with consequences because of those choices.

In John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, the Law of the Inner Circle states: “A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him.” This applies in all our relationships – personal and professional.

Professionally speaking, we need to spend time with individuals who are on a similar path so we can share ideas, learn from other’s experiences, and be challenged to continue growing in our area of expertise. Some of my closest friends are life coaches, and it is mutually satisfying to listen to each other’s stories that lend itself to professional growth.

Those in my inner circle know they can count on me to affirm them in their profession, ask questions that will help them sort through conflicts, and lend a helping hand when they ask for it. Thomas Merton said, “No man is an island.” We need others for support through the victories; most importantly, we need others when we are failing forward.

The most rewarding inner circle can be your personal inner circle. Who do you share your heart with? Who knows your joys, sorrows, frustration, and victories? Who are your closest personal friends? As a marriage coach, I often hear a spouse’s concern over the company their partner is keeping. Do the people in your inner circle lift you up, encourage you, exhort you, and model similar values as you? Married couples need to spend more time with other married couples with similar moral values.

Mastermind groups for married couples can be particularly rewarding as they share ideas for personal growth, and gain insight as to their spouse’s needs for personal growth. This venue can offer more intimate communication with their spouse, and foster relational growth. As couples gain insight from observing other relationships and develop friendships with married couples that are intentional about investing time in their marriage, their potential for a better relationship is significant.

Listening to others in your circle of influence can either motivate you to be a better spouse or make you think your marriage is not worth the effort. Take inventory of those you are choosing to spend your time with – and make sure that their influence is helping you develop yourself positively as a married partner. If you are single, take stock of those you spend personal time with. Are they helping you develop yourself personally? Do they care about your well-being? Are they someone who models similar character? Do they challenge you to be better today than you were yesterday?

Grandma said it best: You ARE the company you keep. Take stock of your inner circle, and ask yourself if it is time for a change; or pick up the phone and call one of your inner circle friends and tell them what a blessing they are in your life.

About the Author

CindyatJMTCindy Southworth is a featured writer for the John Maxwell Blog.

She is a marriage and relationship coach, certified through the American Assn of Christian Counselors and a member of the International Christian Coaching Assn.

Cindy is a John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer, and coach. She and her husband David are the owners of Breakwater Coaching.