Benefits: Identify which people in your life will support you and work with you toward realizing your full potential.
So That You Can: Build a Circle of people to support you when you inevitably stumble.
The Divisiveness Is Strong With This One
When I wrote “Are You Tired of Divisive Political Messages?”, I intended to make it the first post I would publish. The post in which I would start to carve out my mission — to help anyone, who is willing to examine the expectations that are holding them back, realize their full potential. A lot of thought and many, many hours went into composing that first draft.
Then came the hour — I was finally ready to print it and have someone read my masterpiece. Pan to my husband, Dan, the killer of illusions (I say this with love of course). His first comment was, “You know you have really limited your audience.” My response, “That’s ok; I can’t write to please everyone. I have to be true to myself.” His retort, “Well ok, but you do realize you’re being very divisive right?”
“What!?!?! I am not, just look at this and this and this…” (At this point the volume of my voice has risen because I know he is right; he is still very calm, ugh!) “I’m just trying to tell you, you’re going to piss this person off because you said this and that person off because you said that.” In my head — I know, damn it, but I want to be done with this post, and I expect you to say it’s perfect!
After taking several moments to let the reality sink in, and with Dan’s comments in mind, it became clear that that post had so much untapped potential. Not only could I improve the post’s substance, I could better align its message with my mission. Ideas started formulating in my head, and the spark reignited.
It was then that I realized how important it is to identify who will be there to support you, to form a circle with you, as you work toward realizing your full potential. I realized that, without even knowing it, I had already formed my circle.
The Three People You Want in Your Circle
1. Your Cheerleader
This person thinks you’re awesome no matter what and believes in you 100%. Even when she disagrees with you, she willingly sees things from your perspective, and says, “Ya know, I wouldn’t do it that way, but it totally works for you!”
This is the person you can vent to without fear of judgment. She is the person who will allow you to voice your thoughts ad nauseam, enabling you to sort through them and give them some semblance of order.
My Cheerleader is by best friend of over 20 years, Renae. She’s seen me at my worst; she’s seen me at my best; and she has been my rock through all of it. She can always see my true intentions, so she knows what to say to guide me in the right direction.
Interestingly, although we definitely have commonalities, each person in my circle is very different from me. Don’t expect that your cheerleader has to be exactly like you and say what you want to hear, a yes-man so to speak. Keep this in mind because we cannot realize our full potential if we are always being told what we want to hear.
On the surface, Renae and I are very different. We have different religious beliefs, political opinions, hobbies, tastes in music, movies, clothes, etc. But our core values are very much the same. What we view as most important in life and the way we believe people should be treated. And that is key…your Cheerleader must share your core values.
2. Your Devil’s Advocate
This person will challenge your point of view at every turn, even if he actually agrees with you. He will talk you in circles until your head spins, but if you pay attention, you’ll learn something valuable from the conversation.
This person will test your patience and your righteousness. He will make you reassess your beliefs but not in a manipulative or malicious way. You see, the Devil’s Advocate is very firm in his beliefs, almost unshakable. And when you go into a verbal sparring match with him, you find out how firmly rooted your beliefs really are. Chances are, you will find a flaw in your belief system and an opportunity to better yourself.
My Devil’s Advocate is Dan, my husband. There are many things we don’t see eye-to-eye on, but foremost in my mind right now is politics. He leans to the right, while I lean to the left. Actually, scratch that, he is firmly standing on the right; I am leaning left but have a toe touching the right.
As I mentioned above, he was the one who called out the first draft of my post. Admittedly, I cannot stand Donald Trump, and my post was definitely going down the road of Trump bashing, which was not where I wanted it to go. Dan was the one who could show me what I couldn’t see, the alienating words I had penned.
The key to a successful relationship with your Devil’s Advocate is that you both have a desire and willingness to understand the other’s position. Dan and I talk (okay, sometimes I yell; I’m working on that) issues through until we either agree, compromise, or agree to disagree.
Even when you resign to disagree, gaining an understanding of your Devil’s Advocate’s point of view goes a long way in cultivating compassion and connection. We will need to use these skills to narrow the Gaps between us, and, in turn, keep reaching for our full potential.
3. Your Sage
This person is a combination of your Cheerleader and your Devil’s Advocate. He will agree with your position, most of the time, but will take it to a level you are not capable of on your own. Because the way this person sees the world is very different from the way you see it.
Whatever assertion you present, he will dissect it and overthink it and open your eyes to a different interpretation. The Sage can see possibilities and connections that are not obvious to most. When you struggle to connect the dots between the thoughts in your mind, a few wise words from your Sage can rearrange them and connect them in a completely different way than you saw coming.
My Sage is my ex-husband, Matt. We share a love of knowledge and a desire to better ourselves. But we go about achieving our goals in very different ways. I am a logical, analytical thinker and tend to search for answers. Although he is methodical, Matt’s thought paths tend to be a bit more chaotic and prone to detours. He tends to search for comprehension rather than answers. I tend to see black, white, and gray where he sees technicolor.
Your relationship with your Sage is symbiotic. You each recognize that the other has value to add, but you are not necessarily interested in gaining an understanding of each other’s point of view, as with your Devil’s Advocate. Just the opposite. You want his perspective to meld with yours to create another that is better than you could have envisioned alone.
Form Your Circle
Renae, Dan, and Matt are each invaluable to me as I continue to create the vision for this organization. Take some time to consider who you might include in your circle.
Who will push you to be the best version of yourself by acting as your Cheerleader, Devil’s Advocate, and Sage? After you figure that out, ask them if they are willing to help you achieve the goals you are working toward.
This is not as easy as it sounds. It forces you to be vulnerable. Even when you know that they will of course say yes, otherwise you would never have invited them into your circle in the first place, it’s still scary to let your walls down and ask for help. But take comfort in the reality that we all need help.
I am on a journey with this organization and am discovering new things about myself every day, new expectations I want to examine. I am finding out that I am farther away from “narrowing the Gaps between us” than I had realized.
My awareness of this, coupled with a willingness to better myself and a circle to help me when I stumble, will enable me to get closer to realizing my vision, one step at a time.
Commit to forming your circle by typing their names in the comments. Taking the time to do this and seeing the answers in writing are necessary steps toward becoming a deliberate thinker, someone who is ready to examine the expectations that are holding them back.