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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Palmer

Circle of 5

Updated: Jan 24


Circle of 5. Who are the 5 people in your life that you rely on for sound advice, guidance,

wisdom and perspective? The people who jump to the top when you are facing opportunity or challenge – and why are they in your circle? For many, your personal ‘board of advisors’ include parents, partners/spouses, friends and mentors. And maybe you have two boards: one for personal and another for professional decisions.


On my initial intake call with prospective coaching and Your 4th Trimester clients, I position myself as a perspectives coach. I offer my perspective based on how I see the world, my experience, and how I have helped others navigate their Oh Sh*t moments. My perspective is just that – my point of view. It is not necessarily right (or correct), it is not to be followed blindly. It is, however, often less emotional and less impacted by corporate politics and interpersonal relationships. Without all of the details, it is often easier for me to see situations (and therefore solutions) from a different vantage point. As Brene Brown says, “clear is kind” and that clarity from a coach can often reveal a kind solution.


My goal as a professional development and perspectives coach is to earn my way into your Circle of 5. The placement should not be bestowed, but earned through sound judgment and advice, through clear optionality and guidance. And it is not personal if you don’t follow my suggestions. That is key to curating your circle. It should be filled with people who care about you, but also those who can put their own ego aside to ensure your best interests are the priority.


I took a call with a young woman this week who had been offered backhanded compliment: a promotion without adequate compensation. This mixed message: ‘you are doing great and we want you to do more, but we don’t believe in you enough to pay what you are worth’, left her questioning what to do. During the call she said that she did not have someone in her life that could help her navigate this situation. That is not a slight to parents or friends, but rather a moment of reality that in order to navigate her career, she may need a new Circle of 5. I was honored to sit in that seat (if only for a phone call). In the end, I shared 3 paths for her to consider and she may follow one, none or a hybrid.


So, who is in your circle? And whose circle are you in? Both are important questions. If you don’t have a group of trusted advisors, are you missing out and going it alone when you could feel more supported. And if you are in a circle, how have you shown up. Active listening, no ego, being of service are the key attributes of a sitting on someone’s trusted board.


Why 5? No real reason and it isn’t a directive. I like the idea of enough people to offer different perspectives on different areas, but not so many people that you end up with too much (and therefore no clear) guidance. You also won’t seek counsel from everyone on everything. The person I collaborate with on business guidance is different than the one I speak to about financial opportunities or the person who helps when I am filled with doubt.

As you near the end of year, consider if you need a circle and how you might go about assembling the right support. And if you have a group that you have relied upon, how did they do this year? You may have evolved to where you need different support going forward, where your career has or might pivot so the guidance you need would best come from different sources. And if you are looking for a perspectives coach, thank you for considering me. I may not be the right coach at this time, but I would be honored to be in the consideration set.

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