When my friend Garry passed away, I was disappointment that I was not included in the small group of friends who got together to memorialize him. My disappointment wasn't just about not being on the short list, per se, but also about how my relationship ended with him. Don't get me wrong, nothing happened to end our relationship; it just slowly faded away, as many relationships do. And yet, I probably think about him more now than I did when he was alive. Is that unusual? And why didn't I make more of an effort to stay in touch, especially when I knew he was dying? And why didn’t I make his short list?
I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about this whole notion of the short list. He told me that, whether we know it or not, we all have a short list. As he put it, “These are the ‘go-to’ people in our lives,” only he referred to them as his inner circle.
Then he went on to say, “If I were to ever get deathly sick or die, there would only be a few people that I feel like I could really count on to be there for me and my family.”
“I would be there for you,” I said.
“I know,” he said. “That’s why you’re in the circle.”
Goose bumps went up and down my spine. That was one of the most meaningful things someone has said to me in a while. What an honor, was all I could think.
In the movie, Meet the Parents, former CIA agent Jack Byrnes (played by Robert De Niro) had his own terminology for the inner circle, called the circle of trust. For Jack, the circle of trust was reserved strictly for trusted members of the Byrnes family. As you may recall if you’ve seen the movie, Greg Focker (played by Ben Stiller) is continually placed in and out of the family’s circle of trust due to his various antics throughout the movie.
In the Leading From Within program, we’ve taken the circle of trust concept and expanded it into the circle of friends, using the popular Circle of Friends statue as our centerpiece. Are you familiar with the story behind the statue? In a nutshell, the statue represents the bond that existed between the women from an ancient Indian tribe. As the story goes, each evening before going to bed, the women would gather together around the fire to love, honor, and appreciate each other. It was this circle of friends ritual where the women drew their strength to transition from one day to the next.
In LFW, we model the circle of friends ritual by doing all of our processing and sharing work in a circle, with the statue placed in the center.
So where am I going with all of this, you ask?
Whether we are talking about the short list or the inner circle or the circle of trust or the circle of friends, we are essentially talking about the same thing; the people in our lives who:
- Have our back
- Will unconditionally love and support us
- Will step in to help at a moment’s notice
- Are committed to being in relationship with us
Let’s go back to the Circle of Friends statue.
Imagine you are one of the seven people there in the statue. My question to you is: Who are the other six? Who are the people in your life that you would place in your personal circle of friends and why? Better yet, do these people even know they are in your circle? If not, why not?
I do know who is in my circle of friends. Most have been there for a while and know they are in the circle. The others couple of people have been very impactful in my life recently, but don't yet know they are in my circle. Consider that handled.
I believe that we are all here on earth to discover and achieve our purpose, and to help others do the same. There is a reason we are in each other's lives, and we, me included, need to step up and do a better job. It shouldn't be a guessing game whether or not we are on each other's short list, we should just know!