Friend or Foe? Understanding your Network

I'm not sure whether night sentries really call out, "Who goes there - friend or foe?" but I'm certain that foes don't announce their intentions before making an attack. The same is true in our personal or professional network.

Here's a hard truth, most of the people you know are neither friends nor foes, they are neutral. They will smile in the corridor, will nod in a meeting, and may even like your occasional post, but when push comes to shove and you actually need support, they are nowhere to be seen.

A true friend or ally will come to your aid in times of duress, even at personal or reputational risk. Such friendship should be nurtured and treasured. In my opinion, they are like owning priceless art, you must look after them, appreciate them, and you can't have too many or your attention will be diluted.

A foe in your network is easier to spot, as they will actively sabotage you whenever there is an opportunity. Your loss is their win. Such people see the world in terms of competition, and rather than lament that such people exist, you can gain confidence in the fact that they feel threatened by your competence.

BEWARE of False Friends

"Don't tell me what they said about me, tell me why they were so comfortable to say it around you".

My wife is a great judge of character. When she and I first got together, my friends and acquaintances were unknowingly evaluated by her 'gut feeling'.

Despite my protestations, over time, she has been proven correct. When someone has come to me and told me about what others have said, my wife asks, "did they defend you?". This is the distinction between a true friend, or ally, and a neutral.

There's no need to be upset by this, but you do need to accept that you can only trust most people to the extent that supporting you benefits their outcomes.

To lead or influence, you must therefore 'frame' what you want in terms of how it benefits the people you wish to support you.

Building Your Network

"I went out to find a friend, and I couldn't find a friend anywhere. I went out to be a friend and there were friends everywhere."

I don't know where this short poem comes from, but it was taught to me at an early age and has helped me as I have moved around the world and found myself not knowing anyone.

The message is clear, be a friend first. Wherever possible offer your help and support first. Yes, I am aware that not everyone will reciprocate, and that some people are 'energy vampires' and unchecked will suck you dry. However, the realization that most people will just be neutral, and you only need a few friends and allies, will allow you to quickly assess which relationships to nurture.

Healthy Boundaries

In my Self-leadership Keynote Speech and books, I talk about creating a 'me/not me' boundary. 'Me' is everything I am responsible for, such as my thoughts, feelings, and actions. 'Not-Me' is everything that I have no ownership over, such as other people's opinions or actions. This clarity can save you from being a people-pleaser or being manipulated by others.

"What other people think of me is none of my business"

Whilst a personal brand is important, what one individual thinks of you is beyond your control and should not take up any of your 'head space'.

Focus on living an authentic life, live your values, and add value wherever you can. When you do this, you will discover that:

"Your Vibe attracts your Tribe!"





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