When thinking about how to develop our careers, most of us tend to focus on promotions, projects, courses, certifications. We seek out expanded roles, more senior titles, extra money. In doing this we overlook one very key piece of the learning puzzle: proactively surrounding ourselves with people who will nudge and when needed, push us to succeed in unexpected ways and in so doing, help us build genuinely rich, purposeful lives of growth, excellence, and impact.

My dynamic circle of advisers and confidantes has included, friends and mentors from home and across the globe. People who saw in me what I did not and inspired possibilities I would never had envisioned for myself, from starting and running my own personal development business, to being part of a dynamic team specialising in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions and big data.

These very special companions have walked alongside my journey, offered honest feedback, helped me to discover new aspects to my identity and instrumental in the process of continually upgrading myself.

How can you find a similar trusted group? The following guidelines should help:

These can be teachers of certain disciplines; inventors; entrepreneurs; business, social, or public leaders. I have always been moved and inspired by specific people, not just abstract professions. I “met” them originally in many cases by reading their work or about them, being formally introduced, and also via social media, public forums and even at conferences.

Lots of healthy change can and should ideally happen within your own company which enables you to meet new people. In addition, external contacts bring with them new horizons, as well as potential connections across both worlds which will benefit everyone.

Most truly great people live their lives with genuine passion and want to expand their missions.  Most times, they will be delighted to both inspire you and help you see how to close the gap between dream and reality.

These great companions who lead us to greater lives deserve our very best.  Offer them that, with no strings attached.  When you do this, you gain so much in the form of giving to another worthy human being, more learning, opportunities, and deeper friendships.

Meeting face-to-face with no distractions will help you reach a level of intimacy. I would add that many of my life-changing moments have occurred while walking with my trusted friends in beautiful surroundings – whether by a river, in the countryside, on the beach, or in sharing a passionate interest like cycling. The combination of exercise and nature makes me particularly energetic, enthusiastic and positive – and therefore more willing to consider new possibilities.

Some of the best most recent counsel I received is from an entrepreneur who has built a global business. He said, “You need three Cs: capability, which you have; connectivity, which you are developing through your access to global networks; and credibility which is also a work in process and I’m very fortunate to have my trusted business partner Colin, alongside, as we stretch ourselves in these 3 C’s.

What shall I do with my life? What really motivates me? What am I doing that I really don’t like to do? While pondering these questions, in addition to checking my capability, connectivity and credibility, I also engage my friends in conversation about three other Cs: contemplation (Am I in touch with my inner compass?), compassion (Do I show it for myself and others?), and companions (Who else might inspire me to new growth?)

One of my wiser mentors once told me,

“Diane, if you want to live a desirable life you would be better rid of any undesirable friends”.

Simply put, in making those desirable choices, the undesirable elements of your life leave. One big step you can take in supporting yourself is to pro-actively seek out and cultivate the friendships and connections with those who believe in You.

It starts with You!

Warm regards