How to build a top-5 friends list that reflects your values and priorities.

When I'm having trouble determining whether or not I think another person is trustworthy, I always look at who they surround themselves with.


Have you heard this phrase?


“A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad."


The same is true of people. And, it goes both ways. The people who you are surrounded with are a reflection of your values and priorities, and if you are part of someone else's top five list - think about what that means about them and what you must be adding to their life. Are you being a good top five VIP?


Creating Your Top 5 List

If you were asked who your top three go-to people are right now - who would you say? These are the ones that hear your whole, real, messy and crazy life! They're the ones that get ALL of the information from you openly, authentically and honestly.


Most often these people land in those top spots not because we strategized on it, interviewed them and then placed them in a certain order in our lives. No, more like those are the people that ended up sticking around. They could be your best friends, a partner or spouse, a mentor, your mother or any number of different roles.


But let's start thinking intentionally about every aspect of our lives, including who we are getting our support from. You need to make sure these are the people that are giving you the best advice, not just the ones who always agree with you.


Are you the Tree or the Fruit?

We are the product of the top five people that we spend our time with. Most people do not realize how much influence our relationships have on us, but these relationships affect our thoughts, our self-confidence, the types of decisions we make and so on.


If you are hanging around with negative people, you might not know it but I bet if you took a good look at yourself and your reactions that you are probably a negative person, too. Understandable?


Also, if you hang out with goal-oriented people who are constantly trying to improve themselves and be the best version of themselves, then I'd guess you are also that type of person. It makes sense, right? Do you ever see really, really friendly people hanging out with mean girls? Nope, they wouldn't do that. A neither would you.


The trick is to know what type of person you are, what type of person you would like to become, and who are the like-minded people who will help you achieve these goals? And, who are you helping achieve their goals?


Stack the Deck with Critics

Make sure you have some critics in your line-up, please! It's not always going to be easy or go down smoothly, but you need at least one person in your top five who is going to be one hundred percent honest with you. Even when they know you're not gonna like their answer! That's the only way we grow. And, yes, that person is probably your mother, but have a back-up that doesn't make you put up your defenses before either of you have even said "hello."


The critics love us more than they love themselves, actually. They are putting our well-being ahead of their own. It would benefit them a great deal more if they just agreed with us all the time instead of having to talk about touchy subjects that set us off. Their lives would be much easier if they just said nice things all the time and have us respond with glowing reviews about how inspirational and wise they are.


But they want the BEST for us and we need to be willing to take some criticism once in a while. Maybe it's not even criticism, maybe you have a friend that just challenges every single idea you come up with just to play "devil's advocate". They try to poke holes in our plans - not because they don't want them to work out - but because they want to make sure we are fully prepared to succeed.


How to be a Good Critic

Do you want to give your friends advice without coming off as negative or argumentative? All it takes is kindness. It sounds something like these:


"Hmmmm, I don't really know about that. Let's think about it for a minute."


"I'm not convinced you would benefit from that approach, though, you know?"


"That might not get the results you are looking for, how about if you...."


"You seem very excited about this, but I'm thinking we might need to brainstorm on how to get the result you are looking for, which is..."

Learn from the Haters

We don't necessarily have to keep haters or nay-sayers too close, but these people are put into our lives to build up our mental toughness and assist our emotional evolution.


These are not critics, they are haters. People who try to bring us down in order to feel better about themselves.


When I run into negative nellies they do take the wind out of my sails initially, but at some point I'll get enough of it and start to turn it around. I see it as an opportunity to help sharpen my skills and consistently show the amount of fortitude it requires to come out on top in this world. On TOP! "Oh, you wouldn't have handled that situation the same way? Well, I guess that shows me that you don't have what it takes to be in my top five, because only the most intelligent, supportive and honest people get access to be at that level."


Cheerleaders and Promoters

Always important! And, yes, this might also be your mother! We are SO LUCKY to have people in our lives who are always there to say, "I love you, buddy."


None of us are perfect, but it's nice to think there are people out there who believe we are.