It is often said that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. I heard this saying so much that it led me to look at those who were surrounding me. What I found was that I mostly hung around those who needed me, who depended on me, who considered me to be their go-to person…their hero. I did have mentors, those who were helping to guide my career, but those I hung around the most, including my most intimate relationships, were those that looked up to me and sought out guidance from me. Although I acknowledged that my circle needed to change; that I needed to surround myself with those who are or have been where I wanted to go, I was still very reluctant and intimidated by being around those outside of my “normal” circle; those I considered to be more knowledgeable and far above me. And when I dug even deeper I realized that I had not always been that way. What had happened to make me feel intimidated and insecure around those I felt were above me?
When working in the field of Human Resources, I always hung with the HR Professionals that were at a higher level. I clung to them and soaked in their knowledge like a sponge, even volunteering to assist with duties that were beyond my scope of responsibility. I was determined to be one of the most highly qualified candidates should a promotion opportunity become available. However, when I made the transition to become a coach, speaker and trainer, I found myself shrinking back and somewhat uncomfortable around those who were more experienced than I was and were already sharing the stage with big name speakers. What I realized was that Human Resources had become my comfort zone. I was at ease and eager in that arena, but coaching, speaking and training were all new to me and I was intimidated by the stretch.
That all changed after listening to a cd that had been gifted to me by one of my close friends. On the cd, the speaker/trainer spoke about competing with the executive of a huge company for a training contract that could prove to be life changing should it be awarded to him. He initially was fearful and intimidated by the big name executive; however, he forced himself to focus on what this could mean to his family and his career. He spoke about being flooded with the negative comments his twin brother had made to me in an attempt to discourage him from acting on this opportunity. His brother had reminded him that he was an uneducated speaker/trainer with a lot less experience than his “opponent.” His brother also reminded him of his background of poverty and the “educably mentally retarded” label that had been placed on him while attending school. Despite the reminders and his own fears and insecurities, the speaker/trainer pushed past it all, took his seat at the table with the “higher ups” and won the contract.
This speaker/trainer attributes a part of his push through to a mentor that had reminded him over and over again that he should not limit himself or question his ability based on someone else’s opinion of him. A mentor who reminded him that no matter his background, he had greatness within him.
That cd, a special gift from my friend, made me realize that I should never be consumed by the fear of not having what others have. That I have my own gifts, my own stories, and that when it comes to getting what is meant for me; I am enough.
What is truly amazing is that a platinum level speaker who had been trained in public speaking and storytelling by the maker of that cd, became my speaking coach. I never imagined that I would reap even more benefits from the person whose cd helped changed my life.
Now, I am very comfortable with being in a circle with those who know and have experienced much more than I have experienced. In fact, I am even comfortable with being the least experienced. I actually seek out those who know more, have done more and continue and strive to be more. Those are exactly the type of individuals that I want around me.
What about you? Where do you rank amongst those who are in your circle? Would you be comfortable being the least knowledgeable/experienced? Answer these questions honestly and then make the right moves. The truth is, you may need to make a change to your circle. If those surrounding you are taking from you and not giving or are not helping you to grow, it is time to make some moves.
Teresa L. Holmes