Who are in your inner circle?
The past few weeks, I have been part of discussions on the challenges founders face in their businesses and communities. There seem to be a common thread of not having the right support to show up and share with full vulnerability while being listened to with empathy and compassion. Listening to clients and colleagues about these struggles gives me a deep appreciation. of my inner circle- my go-to community of belonging where I can be open and trust that I can be given space to. A community where I can be seen, heard and acknowledged. My inner circle are my personal advisory board, a tribe of women and a few men who I can reach out to when I need support and vice-versa.
But this was not how it used to be.
I started the Circles of Connection Framework when, at a point in my life, I had to re-evaluate the relationships I have and the time and energy I place in nurturing them. When I look back, prior to my breast cancer diagnosis, I had people I knew and connect with on a regular basis. Yet the depth of such connections were not there. At one point while going through chemotherapy I had to be rushed to the emergency room at the middle of the night, and this event changed the way I looked at friendships/relationships.
I realized that moving forward I needed to surround myself with people that I can fully be me. People who would be ok to hear my no and understand the need behind them. People who I can freely share how things are going on inside of me. People who can also be as vulnerable, open and present with me as I am with them. These are people in your relationship circle in the Circles of Connection framework.
Perhaps you might be wondering, who do I include in my inner circle?
Here are 3 simple actionable steps that I used for myself:
1. Use the “messy house” marker. Those who are in your inner circles are people who you would invite inside your home even if it is messy. This literal (and figurative) criterion shows how much you feel a sense of safety and non-judgment with these people. These are people you would welcome with open arms, clean house or not. For showing up just how your are is more important than any mess around you.
2. Look closely for the “How are you?” flinch factor. Oftentimes. when we connect with people, we start the conversation with. “how are you?”. I remember a funny scenario where my 5 year old son was asked this question by a cashier in a supermarket. Here is how the conversation went:
Cashier: (enthusiastically) how are you? And how sweet you are buying flowers
Milos: yes, these are for my mama, she is sick
Cashier: (seeing a flinch in his face) ohhh
Milos: yes she has cancer
Cashier: (obviously uncomfortable and regretting asking the question) ohh
Milos: good thing she didn’t have Ebola!
All of us chuckling at the last engagement.
This interaction is a good example of the flinch factor. People who you invite in your inner circle are not shy to dive deep, oftentimes deeper. These are people who you can answer “what is alive inside of you” and they wouldn’t bat an eyelash. What they would do is listen and offer their hearts in compassion.
3. Your inner circle is your bullshit-free zone. Radical candor is part of the relationship ( Kim Scott, co-founder of Candor, Inc., has built her career around a simple goal: Creating bullshit-free zones where people love their work and working together.) These are people who are not afraid to tell you off. They can challenge you directly while showing that they care deeply.
So who are people that you are connected with that fits these criteria? Perhaps you have more qualifiers that you can add in this list? If yes, I would love to know!