We may not always want to admit it, but the people closest to us really do play an immense role in who we are and what we do in life. According to motivational speaker Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I’m sure you’ve come across this quote at some point in your life. This idea is connected to the broader concept known as the law of averages, which suggests that the outcome of any situation tends to be an average of all possible results.
Many of us convince ourselves that we can be around people with undesirable traits or habits without picking up those same habits ourselves. We think we can ignore the stuff we don’t like and concentrate only on the things we do like about them. And sure – there might be a few people out there who can genuinely do that. But for most of us, it’s not that easy.
The emotions, actions, and values of those around us rub off on us, whether we like it or not. It’s contagious. And if the image we project to the world (our personal brand) truly reflects who we are, those same emotions, actions, and values will inevitably shine through in some way. This is why we need to be extremely mindful of the company we keep and where we invest most of our time and energy.
Think of your inner circle as your “personal brand team”
You already know that the idea behind building a personal brand is to achieve meaningful goals in your life, both personally and professionally. And a big part of the branding process is discovering your strengths and gaining the confidence to showcase those strengths to the people outside of your inner circle. But for that to happen, you need a little support along the way.
As Nilofer Merchant says: “[W]e are social beings. None of us (despite all the hype of “self-made people”) do anything big all by ourselves. It is the social constructs that create the needed “safe” space to first belong fully, as oneself. So, until we can belong, we cannot bring our fullest ideas to the table.”
This “safe space” Merchant talks about is basically where you can experiment with your personal brand, test different aspects of your identity, and receive honest feedback. When you’re in such a nurturing environment, you’ll feel at ease refining and developing your personal brand authentically. And remember, at the end of the day, people naturally gravitate toward and trust people who come across as genuine and self-assured.
So, surrounding yourself with the right people – the right “personal brand team” – helps you build a brand that resonates with others, making it easier to form valuable connections and ultimately get where you want to be in life.
Quality over quantity
When we talk about networking and creating our personal brand, there’s this common idea that having a ton of connections is the key to success. But that’s not always the case.
Darrah Brustein, the brains behind Network Under 40, also seems to be a big believer in the “five people” theory, saying that we should evaluate the relationships with the five people we’re closest to, because these five people can have a major impact on our lives.
Darrah, who’s a pretty big networking enthusiast, understands the value of connecting with others, but it’s clear that she also advocates for some spring cleaning in the relationship department. Why? Because “people are going to draw snap judgements of you” based on the company you keep. It’s always been this way and always will be.
And just to be clear, Darrah isn’t saying you should fill your inner circle with flashy, high-profile contacts just to bask in their reflected glory. Nope. You just need to find and nurture relationships with good, intelligent people who, in Darrah’s words, “can help you become a bigger and better version of yourself.”
Research led by Dr. David McClelland at Harvard has also shown that these relationships may determine up to 95% of your success or failure in life. So, choose wisely.
Who should be on your personal brand team?
As you’ve been reading, you’ve likely already thought of a few people who hold significant places in your life. How do their attitudes and values impact the way you present yourself to the world? Are they helping to enhance your brand, or are they holding you back in some way?
If you’re still uncertain about who should make up your inner circle, here are a few important roles to consider:
#1 The Learning Supporter
This is the type of person that wants to see you grow and become the best version of yourself. They recognise your potential, which is why they encourage your curiosity and often join you in workshops and other educational activities to help you progress.
#2 The Cheerleader
This is the person who stands by you throughout your journey. They’re your biggest fan in life and celebrate your efforts every step of the way – not just the end result. The one who acknowledges your hard work and always gives you a confidence boost when you need it most.
#3 The Mentor
We all need someone in our circle that challenges our thinking but also comes up with solutions. A mentor will offer you valuable guidance and expertise, while helping you navigate challenges and make smarter decisions.
#4 The Sponsor
Sponsors are those people who have the influence to advance your career or personal brand by providing strategic support, resources, and opportunities. They have the power to make things happen for you. Unlike mentors who mainly just offer guidance, sponsors actively advocate for your professional growth and visibility and can introduce you to other influential people who can further your career.
#5 The Brand Ambassador
These are the people who are genuinely enthusiastic about your brand and willingly spread the word about your skills, talents, and achievements. They can amplify your message far beyond your immediate reach and increase your credibility by sharing your content, recommending your services, and promoting your achievements to their own network.
#6 The Guardian or Spotter
This is the person who sees you for who you are, provides perspective on your goals, and keeps an eye on your well-being, so you don’t stumble along your path. They make sure that you maintain your integrity and align your actions with your values and try to safeguard your personal brand from missteps.
#7 The Confidant
You can talk to them about anything and everything without fear of being judged. This person is your safe haven. They provide the emotional support and space you need to handle stress, make tough decisions, and keep your mental and emotional balance in check.
#8 The Reality Checker
Every now and then, we all need a dose of reality. This person is the voice of reason and makes sure you don’t get carried away with overly optimistic expectations. Their honesty may sometimes feel a bit harsh, but it’s valuable and keeps you grounded and on the right track toward your goals.
#9 The Challenger
Think of The Challenger as your personal coach for growth and self-discovery. Their main job is to nudge you beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone, where personal and professional growth truly flourishes. They understand how easy it is to get stuck in the same old routine, so they’re there to inspire you to embrace new challenges and see just how far you can go.
It’s the support and trust from all these types of people that really give you the power to project a more confident and genuine personal brand. On the flip side, when you don’t have that support or encouragement, it can hold you back from letting your true potential shine for everyone to see.
A final word
In the grand scheme of things, while we may work on crafting our personal brand for those beyond our inner circle, it is the influence and support of those within this innermost circle that truly define our journey and shape the narrative of our lives.
So, it’s important to pay attention to the relationships we cultivate with those closest to us. We should aim for these relationships to be filled with positivity, support, and inspiration because they are the fundamental building blocks of our personal growth and how we show ourselves to the world.