Your Inner Circle - Be Careful Who You Invite into Your Heart & Your Life

“Sometimes, it’s the people in your inner circle that keep you from fulfilling your destiny.“ I was sitting in an Advance Your Reach program when I heard a coach say that, and it struck me deeply. I began reflecting on the many times that had occurred in my history.

I had just experienced a major breakthrough in that workshop. I had been coached to a critical pivot. Considering what she said, I sent a text to the five people that I would consider part of my inner circle.

I sent the exact same text to all five, outlining the breakthrough moment and the critical pivot.

These were the five responses:

1. Cool. That should give you a nice burst of energy.

2. YES!!

3. O wow, Neecie!!  I was just praying for your workshop experience after my workout on the field, and returned to that message!   Your coach said it perfectly, indeed!  Perhaps it is uncomfortable to bear the mantle that has been placed upon you without feeling the need to keep the gravitas and magnanimity of your calling and effort from overwhelming people!  You are blessed and called like no other, and are blessing and calling the multitude who have eyes and ears and hearts! Love you, and here at your side supporting you, Neecie! Go on, girl!

4. That’s awesome, Neecie! She said it perfectly!

5. Great.

All positive responses, right? But differences in the power of the positivity and engagement.

I knew they would all respond positively, but it started me thinking about this: “Who are my real supporters and my real cheerleaders?”

This morning I was listening to Pastor Kendall Bridges’ message about “How to Deal with Disappointment in Life.” (Awesome message. Click here to watch). He was speaking about how even when disappointments or challenges occur, we all still have a dream, a destiny, and a purpose.

He followed up with saying that when we step into our purpose, our dream, our destiny, often the opposition comes from those closest to us. Why? His comment was quite interesting: “Perhaps because of our destiny, our dreams, our purpose is disruptive of their complacency. So they are inclined to discourage us so they can remain comfortable where they are.“ Even if they do not realize they are doing so!

I considered both events: The text responses to my breakthrough from those in my inner circle; and, Kendall’s comments in his message.

It made me think of Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Last week, I was working with a client.  I was speaking to her about her inner circle. Clearly, she had some people that did not belong there. She then asked me, how do I know who should be in my inner circle? 

I realized that I had given her seven criteria (or habits), so I decided to write my blog about the “Seven Habits of the Highly Effective People Who Qualify to Be in Your Inner Circle.”

1. They are trustworthy. You must know that you can trust them with your very life. You can trust them with your confidence; you can trust them with things about your life that you may not choose to share on Facebook! You must know that they will take vulnerable things you share with them to their grave.

Are the people in your inner circle trustworthy? If you have to be careful what you share because of concern that they might share it, they likely do not belong in your inner circle. If you have to be careful with what you share because of concern that they might use it against you, they likely do not belong in your inner circle.

For me, this is a HUGE habit that those in my inner circle must possess.

Do those in your inner circle have it?

2. They are bold and courageous in their interactions. You don’t want a whole bunch of “yes people” in your inner circle.

You need people who are bold and courageous enough to speak to you when you are off track, or when they notice you are not operating in a manner that is consistent with your values. Or consistent with whom you are called to be in this world.

This is critical because most people in our world do not have access to what is really going on internally in our world. Therefore, they speak to your “public self” and maybe not giving feedback that is positive in areas that actually need to be addressed.

Certainly consider all feedback, both positive and negative. But make sure those to whom you are listening, particularly those in your inner circle, are bold and courageous enough to shine a gracious light on your growth edges (those areas that need to be addressed to get to the next level in your life).

3. They communicate with you using TREKy talk. (To read my entire blog about this, click here). TREKy talk is an acronym that stands for speaking:

Truth with


Empathy, and 


Don’t misunderstand TREKy talk for being a “yes person.“ You can say very difficult things that are truths, and still deliver the message with respect, empathy, and kindness. The people in your inner circle should be skilled at that, or at least willing to learn the skill.

It is quite popular in current social media for us to blast one another.

But blasting, shaming, or other dysfunctional ways of communicating things we may need to address have no place in our inner circles.

I said that to my client, who was examining inner circles last week.   The response was: “Well, it looks like I will have to get a divorce then!” We both laughed. Then I explained that examining our inner circles isn’t about bouncing people. It’s about realizing areas where they may have growth potential, and using TREKy talk with them to address it!

Because we are all accustomed to listening only to messages that are provided with intensity, it might instead be time to pay attention to truths being spoken with respect, empathy, and kindness.

4. They are focused and very present in their time spent with you. They value the time spent with you and are 100% present.

They turn off the television (unless your gathering is planned to watch something), they turn off the radio, they silence their phone and turn it upside down on the table (unless it is needed).

I am amazed at how so many are not “present” with each other when out together. Recently, I was picking up take-out food in a restaurant. While waiting for my order, I noticed about 14 couples were sitting inside. Not one of them was engaged in conversation. They were on their cell phones, reading newspapers and books, or just gazing into space.

Our time is priceless, and our presence is the greatest gift we have to give! Make sure the people you have in your inner circle have mastered being present!

5. They have similar values and beliefs, or at least are very supportive of yours. What people value and believe is critically important.

Research indicates that when you spend time with others, whoever most strongly embraces their values and beliefs will impact the values and beliefs of the other. This occurs whether or not there is a conversation about their values and beliefs.

Although I enjoy hearing about values and beliefs that differ from mine, I want people in my inner circle to have values and beliefs similar to mine, or at least are in harmony with mine.

Having said that, most of us do not even know what our values and beliefs are. They are programmed and installed on our brain’s hard drive by the time we are 8-12 years old. Most of us operate from those, unaware of what they are, being led down a path of destiny we may or may not want.

Perhaps it’s time we all evaluate our values and beliefs and update them. People in my inner circle are aware that this is a key conversation for me to have with the people inside!

6. They are just as committed to their personal growth and development as you are.

Similar to what I said in habit #5, I know that our dedication to personal growth is very contagious.

If we want to grow and become our best version of us, we must be intentional about personal growth. I want to make sure that the people in my inner circle are at least as committed to their personal growth as I am to mine. That is to make sure I do not become lax. I want to become all I was created to be in order to live my purpose out loud, and in full color!

Is personal growth important to those in your inner circle? Do they pursue it intentionally? Be very careful lest you become lax!

7. They exhibit the kind of character, and practice the kinds of lifestyle and health principles you admire and aspire to.

So many people are careless about their lifestyle and health habits.

It’s easy to get into busy schedules.  Then we are so exhausted we fall into the softest recliner or easy chair we can find, and numb ourselves out with television.

And of course, nothing is as good as greasy buttered popcorn, or chips and salsa while we binge watch news, sports or Netflix! I know that many of us think we are invincible, or that our lifestyle habits really do not affect our destiny. THAT IS TOTALLY WRONG! Get up off your backside and get in motion (if you want to be in my inner circle, or those of winners!)

The lifestyle habits of the people in my inner circle are very important to me. That’s why one of the key people (Lisa) in my inner circle and I walk together often as we connect and process!

Then there is the topic of character. I’ve heard it said that character is what you do when you face stress, temptation or adversity. What’s deep inside you seeps and oozes out. I know that it’s very important what people do during stress or adversity because it shows their true inner landscape.

I hope you will choose people in your inner circle that make right choices, who quickly upright their kayak of life when they face adversity. Who take some deep breaths when frustrated or stressed, and choose a healthy way to move forward.

This weekend, I saw someone struggling with a project. They muttered, sighed, made angry comments (to the project, not me). But after being exposed to that for about 10 minutes, I relocated myself. I am prone to the same sorts of responses if I am not cautious, so I certainly don’t need exposure to that!

I want the people in my inner circle to be able to step away, to laugh at themselves for their frustration, and calm themselves. Then either ask for help or come at it with a fresh attitude.

Character is very important to me. Character is the core of who we are, and I want to surround myself with people who want to be their very best!

So what is a good way to describe an “inner circle?” Your inner circle is a small, intimate group of influential people whom you have invited to know your innermost self, your activities, your goals, your dreams. I call mine my “circle of influence.” Most people agree that your inner circle should contain about 3 to 5 people.

Your “middle circle” is one that usually contains about 12 to 15 people. Those would be friends, family and/or professionals with whom you share a fond closeness, just not as close as your inner circle.

Your outer circle contains acquaintances that you stay in touch with, but do not have an extremely close relationship with. Most of us have many people in that circle.

Although we should be aware of which circles people are best placed, those we invite into our “inner circle” or “circle of influence” are critical.

I have developed a worksheet for those who are interested in evaluating who is in their inner circle and if changes are in order. In addition, it helps us look at whose circle of influence we are in and determine if we are appropriate for that circle. If you would like to do this evaluation, click here for the free download.

After sending out my text to the five people in my “circle of influence,” I began to consider who I had chosen, why I had chosen them, who had slipped in, who had slipped out?

I realized that I often forget to include this very important exercise in my regular growth and self-care evaluations. I will now do so quarterly.

What about you? Do you know who is in yours? Do you know if they have the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Inner Circle People? Perhaps it’s time to do an evaluation.

After all, as John Maxwell says: “The better you are at surrounding yourself with people of high potential, the greater your chance for success.”

Then he added something we should all consider: “If you have great people around you, they will take you higher than your dream will. Leaders are never self-made. Those closest to you determine your level of success, so choosing the right companions as partners in pursuit of your vision is an important decision. My advice is to surround yourself with talented people who will challenge you, help you grow, and inspire you to maximize your potential.”