Today’s post isn’t exactly about politics, but politics (in the sense of power balance) are an integral part of our personal relationships. That said, the following piece of advice doesn’t deviate from the political theme of this blog too much.
Allow me to preface what I’m about to say by saying that having a vast and diverse social network is NOT the same thing as having a large social circle. Networks are a means to an end, whereas a social circle is (or should be) a much more intimate and personal aspect of one’s life. The things I share with my network is far more restrictive and trivial than the things I share with my inner circle.
The difference between an inner circle and a network comes down to trust.
A network is great when you need a job, close a business deal, or get a discount or favor. The perception of friendship is a powerful political and business tool. It is this concept upon which the adage that “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is based upon.
An inner circle is loyal to YOU. There is no quid pro quo. Members of your inner circle are counted upon because you have personally demonstrated to them that they can count on you in return. The number of people to whom you can rely on to this level is necessarily small.
Another benefit to having a small inner circle is that you can be yourself, and thus vulnerable, to your trusted inner circle members. There is always a personal and professional side to everyone you will ever encounter in life and business. It is imperative to get a good sense of both of these sides in everyone you meet. It is foolhardy to do otherwise.
Reading people is a gift that some people are blessed to have at birth, but the good news is that this gift is something that can be learned and subsequently honed. Only invite people into your inner circle that you can be your fully authentic self with regardless of the circumstances. That group of people is a far smaller percentage of the population than most people ever realize.
-The Rational Ram