Jim Rohn says that we are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. So, if you don’t like who you are or who you have become: take a careful look at your “inner circle”, the people that you consistently spend your time with.
I’d read that from Jim. I’d heard it before.
But it didn’t really sink in until November of last year, when I was at the Starting Over retreat that Bonnie holds each November for women.
As I looked at the life that I was living, and sat with my feelings, I realized I had allowed myself to empty. I was not sitting in a corner feeling sorry for myself – I was active and doing.
And the reason was simple: I had surrounded myself with the people that I was serving and helping (as I volunteered at church); I spent by days in the office with my staff and clients (solving their problems); I spent my time with my daughter and our foster child (mothering); but I was not spending quality time taking care of myself.
Empty. I had run dry. And now I was needy.
I had surrounded myself with people that needed me. As anyone that has been there can attest to – it feels great to be needed.
For a while.
Then you start to resent it.
You want to pull out. Set boundaries.
But it’s already too late, you are too far in. People have expectations (which you’ve established for them) and now you are busy trying to live up to those expectations.
And I had become the average of all the people I had surrounded myself with. I was no longer helping them. I had come down to their level and allowed myself to become needy!
And yet, here I was, in Puerto Vallarta, surrounded by this group of amazing women – each on her own journey, with her own challenges for “Starting Over”, and I knew that in this particular area of my life: “I need to start over“.
Like I said – I knew better! I had read where Jim Rohn had said that before. But I had ignored it. I know that if you want to become a better runner, you need to start running with more advanced runners.
And there was a time, less than four years ago, when I had the most amazing tribe that supported me! All on their own paths of growth. Each facing different challenges. And I had let those relationships simply slip through my fingers – failed to cultivate the depth of trust and friendship that we had nurtured. (more on that later)
And that, unfortunately, is one of my weaknesses – when I am going through a struggle, especially when it’s an emotional one, I pull away.
I alienate myself from my tribe and my support.
I dig into a little trench and stay in there until I’ve worked through it and am ready to come back out.
Rather than reaching out for support, I had thrown myself into “helping others”, which only works until you are burnt out!
And I had burnt myself out. Again.
So, I came back from Puerto Vallarta, with a list of things to do for myself.
One of the items on the list was “rebuild the inner circle” – reconnect with my tribe. Build those five relationships that deeply nourish and reward. Where you come away from speaking or meeting with this person, and you feel important, on fire, challenged and loved. Those people that can call “bullshit” to your face, and you take it squarely on the chin.
And I came away from Puerto Vallarta with a blank sheet of paper.
A circle in which I had drawn “Me” and then a ring of five circles – each empty. And I had a huge question mark in my head. Who were those people in my life?
That was six months ago.
My personal peer-to-peer coaching
The first person I wrote into a circle, that first week back home, was Vikki Coombes, who in spite of all my efforts (and sometimes hers), I have maintained the most awesome long-distance friendship with over 25 years. Okay, maybe more than 25…
Vikki has transformed herself, over these years, into an amazing coach and consultant, who always asks me the hard questions. And we have maintained, even while I was busy digging a hole for myself, fortnightly (or at least monthly) peer-coaching calls.
And as part of that, and my goals that I set in November, I made sure that in January I was going to London for her mBIT Coaching course, to become qualified to coach in mBIT. That was another breath of fresh air in my life, as for the second time since my daughter was born over four years ago, I took a solo trip “just for me”. Something that I wanted to do for my personal growth, even if it was part of my professional growth.
And yes, to answer your question, the first trip away I had done was in November, going to Starting Over in Puerto Vallarta!
Girls just want to have fun!
The second person that I wrote into a circle was my receptionist, Laura. Because she’s the person I can always turn to for mother-daughter adventures. Her husband and son aren’t keen on going – but she and her daughter will almost always say yes!
She loves camping, day trips, hiking, boating, whatever you want to invent and do with the kids!
There has to be someone in your circle that you can just get away to have fun with – someone that you know at the drop of the hat will adventure with you. I trust her implicitly with my daughter and know that she will give as good as she gets – she doesn’t need looking after. And I know that she appreciates, that very same way, having someone that will say “Yes” to whatever adventure she wants to go on with her daughter for a long weekend!
I came back from Puerto Vallarta in November and said to her – I don’t know what adventure you are planning for February holidays before the school year starts again, but count me in. Just tell me what I have to chip in, what clothes to pack, and if I need to buy any special equipment for this trip.
And that was it.
I knew we were going to have an amazing time away. And we did. Since getting back from camping we’ve had some one-day outings. We’ve had some cancelled plans when kids got sick. And now we’re planning our next adventure – come rain or shine.
My “one day” or “day one” crowd
Since half way through last year I have established a fabulous friendship with Bonnie, who is leading Starting Over and our weekly Mastermind. I now count her as a friend, not just an acquaintance or coach!
She is the glue that holds our mastermind group together and the motor that keeps it moving forward!
Our mastermind is a group of 6-7 women who get on Zoom every Monday night, we share our goals and plans, our achievements, our failures, our learning opportunities, and we come away with homework.
Words cannot express how important that weekly call has become for me – with these amazing women all over the Americas (Canada, Mexico & Panama). While these friendships are not up-close in presence, they are very personal! And I have added this group of ladies into one of those circles – for their closeness, for their influence on my life.
Some of us managed to get together in March for a weekend of Dare to Love in Pedasi!
If you are not already part of a Mastermind group, or a reading club, or a coaching group that is stretching you to constantly grow, and your intention this year is to transform yourself – find, no, MAKE your Tribe!
The circle isn’t complete yet, but I know now that I need to be intentional with my relationships, and especially with my close relationships.
Hold your feet to the fire friends
I am SO blessed that this week I got back together with my coaching group from 2013-2014 – GOL Pionero. We had been out of touch for about a year or so, and for our anniversary from graduation, we got back together. I was overjoyed – because about two weeks ago I wrote on my manifestation list that I wanted this group back in my life. Not just one or two members of the group – I wanted the group back together!
Then magically, it was our May anniversary, and someone suggested a lunch. And we made it happen.
These guys are capable of holding my feet to the fire – they remind me that I set a goal and that perhaps I don’t know the “how” but that I need to remember the “what”. That every failure is a learning experience and opportunity. The game isn’t over until it’s over. That you set the goal: then you adjust the path as necessary.
It all started one Wednesday of November, 2013, when I started a 3-evening, 2-full-day coaching course recommended by my friend Ritu. We then went on to do stage 2 together – a 5-day intensive course in personal coaching experience.
And finally eight of us finished a 3-month intensive course in March to May of 2014! Those were 12 unforgettable weeks – as we ran into the blockages within ourselves, discovered our own aversion to failure, picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and proceeded to fail again!
It’s not quite the “five people you spend the most time with” in my life – but they are some of the most influential people in my life here in Panama!
May 2014 / May 2018
I couldn’t be more grateful.
Exploring new friendships
As this year has progressed, I have been intentional about reaching out to women that I can relate to. Women who are on a similar path to my own – seeking to improve their lives and the lives of other women through their work. One of these women is Lulu Minns – a litigation lawyer become coach “empowering women to design success on their own terms and live life by their rules”. Another is Janine Esbrand – a lawyer intent on helping professional women get back into their work after motherhood.
I’ve also started going to a women’s dinner one night a month locally, for expat women. A moment to just get out and enjoy some laughs and stories with women in my community. But also a place to empower women that are in my community.
It’s easy to get burnt out and be alone. It’s easy to fall prey to playing the victim. But not all people deserve to be in your inner circle. Not everyone lifts you up, providing you with a true give-take relationship.
If someone is always taking and you are exhausted from being with them, gently slide them from your inner circle to the next level out and make space and room in your life for people who will challenge you to be the best version of yourself!
Take a good look at the five people you are spending the most time with: are you happy to be the average of those five people?
It’s in your hands to do something about that!
It’s your tribe. You create it!