The Top Five

Principle No. 4:  Develop a braintrust, an inner circle, or cohort to help you navigate your path, challenge your thinking, and give you honest feedback.

My cousin FriendsCamille once said, “You will only be as successful as the five people closest to you.”. I’ve heard a similar idea stated like this:  “You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.” That powerfully simple piece of advice couldn’t be truer.  Our growth and development as educators and leaders is impacted to great degree by the types of people we surround ourselves with.  Those are the folks who we vent to when the day is over.  How they respond often shapes our outlook on challenges in life.  The books, conferences and articles we take in affect us to a lesser degree.  That circle of influence is powerful beyond measure and I think it’s a good idea to convey that to our young people.

Yesterday I met with a group of young men as we launched a book study of the book The Pact.  It’s an inspiring story of 3 young men from Newark, NJ who form a bond of friendship that takes them from their neighborhood, to Seton Hall University, and then onto medical and dental schools.  Today they serve their communities in a way they never imagined they would.  Our students need to understand the power of positive peer pressure.  We should continue to put structures in place to allow them to mentor one another and have those positive interactions that they need.  They learn from watching us…which leads me to my next point…

As an educator, I’m always looking to learn about the newest research, technology, or legislation that is going to shape the landscape of the profession.  My trajectory, and more importantly, my sphere of knowledge is influenced by the top five people in my circle. It is a circle that is in constant flux.  In the Hindu tradition, gurus and guides enter and exit our lives constantly.  Our task is to learn.  So every now and then I would suggest you do an assessment:  Who’s in your top five?  What are they teaching you?

Soundscape:  Follow the Leader by Eric B and Rakim (



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nicole says:

    I needed that. Time to clean up my circle and share this with my sons.


  2. Reblogged this on The Real Plain Talk and commented:
    Nice concept!


  3. Robert Brown says:

    Wow this really makes sense. This is just what I needed right now.


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