“Maneuvering with an army is advantageous, with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.” -Sun Tzu “The Art of War”

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If you have been in a leadership role for any amount of time you should realize by now that there is no efficient way in which you can create significant change alone. You may have some fantastic ideas and even build momentum in executing the initial steps of your plans, but you need other like-minded people to come together in order to see great things through to completion. This group of individuals is central to your success in making lasting positive change in our culture. Great leaders understand that they CAN’T do it alone.

Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak, David Fernandez, and Mike Markkula

Warren Buffett has Charlie Munger and Bill Gates

Taylor Swift has her Squad

Look at those who you surround yourself with, your inner circle, those who you would consider close and you would ask for advice. Without reference to any physical features, how would you describe them?

Are they sharp? Disciplined? Dedicated?

How about lazy? Sloppy? Haphazardous? Power hungry?

Could you say they are mediocre? Is their only redeeming quality that they are available?

It is commonly said that humans can only keep between 100 and 250 consistently stable relationships. The most common number used is “Dunbar’s Number”. It is named after Robin Dunbar who is an anthropologist who had initially laid claim to noticing the phenomenon in primates. (For more info about Dunbar’s Number check out this article, or maybe even this one.) Dunbar set the number at 150 consistent strong relational connections at a time derived from his research of the correlation between the size of a primate’s brain and their social structure.

Why is this relevant? Well, if we believe the Dunbar’s Number Theory to be true (there are many who do not agree, see here or here) we must be careful with whom we are allowing to hold influence over us and those whose help we utilize to impact others.

If we believe idea of there being finite space in our lives for relationships, who do you allow in?

Well I hope that some of these close relationships will be held by family and friends. The rest would need to be filled with mentors, mentees, and people who help to complete your vision to bring positive impact to those that you wish to help.

Now, I will ask you some questions to answer equipped with this new knowledge. Who do you allow to join this intimate group/team/inner circle? What are their qualifications? What do you require of them?

Are they honorable?

Are they controlled?

Do they make you better?

Ask these sort of questions about everyone who you allow to have impact on your life. If you hold high standards and make those close to you live by them Sun Tzu says you will have an advantage, if you don’t everything that you hope to build may be at risk.
Those you associate with may make a bigger difference than you realize.