I literally couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The tenor of the entire meeting turned gross with no warning. Mockery and derision about concepts and people I admire.
I felt literally sick to my stomach, but I said nothing. I was the newest member of the organization, and this was the first meeting I was invited to join. It was not my place to judge or voice disagreement.
But I had a very important decision to make – did I want to continue to participate in a group that was against what I stood for, and was actually considering steps that would antagonize those who held my exact beliefs?
Time to consult the circle of trust.
I was shellshocked. I needed help. So I turned to my trusted advisors, my circle of trust.
In the movie Meet the Parents, Robert De Niro’s character Jack Byrnes shares some great truth with Gaylord Focker. If we don’t have our own, we are in trouble.
We all need a small group of friends, the 3 – 5 people we absolutely trust with our ugliness, our fears, our internal sin. Usually some combination of spouses, family, work colleagues, college buddies, and childhood friends – this core group of people have the greatest influence in our lives. These are the people who we listen to when they speak into our lives.
Including my wife, I have five people I try to talk to before I make any major decisions. Two of them I have known about eighteen months, one met my wife when we started dating, and the last is the person who convinced me I still had something to offer as a leader in the church.
Some are pastors, some are writers, and some are neither. But they have some things in common, characteristics that everyone in a circle of trust should have if they are going to help you thrive.
- They KNOW me – This is the most important. Each of these five people know my heart. They know who I am, who I hope to be, and how I want to get there. Even if I sound like a royal jerk, they know that is not who I am. They also know my wounds, so they know when a situation has touched a tender spot in my heart.
- They are diverse – I am not always going to get the same answer from all five people in my ‘circle of trust.’ Sometimes, my wife will give me a completely different answer than my writing friends, and I will get a third answer from my pastor friends. Actually, that’s exactly the point. I need to hear and understand multiple points of view, so I can make the choice that will help me THRIVE.
- They are spectacular listeners – What’s the value of having an advisor who won’t listen, you ask? Not much, and yet it can be surprisingly difficult to find people who will stop talking long enough to hear my story. I mean, really listen and hear even what I am not saying, instead of moving at warp-speed to telling a “This reminds of when I…” story.
They also have some traits that uniquely qualify them to be one of my advisors. They own certain qualities that fill in my blind spots.
- They have excellent BS detectors – I desperately need this. I am usually even-keeled, but then there are times I am most definitely not calm or rational. I get all worked up sometimes and ready to make a brash decision that will impact my family and my future…over nothing. Or I allow fear over some possibility in the future to terrorize and paralyze me. I need advisors who tell me to slow down when I am buying (or selling) some BS.
- They are brave and blunt – Not everyone is willing to step out and say, “You are just wrong.” All my advisors will do this, using almost these exact words. Some would rather be more subtle, but I sometimes miss subtle. So they give it to me blunt.
Everyone needs a carefully selected inner circle.
This circle of trust can keep us from running away from painful relationships, when what we really need to do is press through and find healing. These advisors will tell us when we are wrong. They will broaden our horizons. They will keep us on the path toward THRIVE.
Not everyone needs BS detectors or bluntness. How would you describe your circle of trust?
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