Who's at Your Table? The Importance of Choosing Your Circle of Influence


Written by Stephanie Barnes Taylor

I always like to reflect upon the imagery of King Arthur's fabled round table. It is a great representation of the circle of influence in our lives. Each of us has a roundtable. We have people in our lives that bear great influence on us. We listen to them. We spend time with them. We work with them. We live with them. We go to church with them. One thing that we forget, however, is that we invite them.

We create our circle of influence by invitation. We sometimes forget that it is our table and we get to decide who gets a seat and who will have to sit elsewhere.

A round table is both infinite but definite. It is a circle of influence that is a continuous connection. Every one seated is connected to each other through the people on either side of them. But a table is also definite in that it only has so many seats. That means we should be selective and strategic about who is seated at our table.

Here are the people who should be at your table.

1. Coach--This person helps to be better. They share knowledge and expertise that enables you to grow. They hold you accountable for the things you say you want to achieve. They help you to move when you want to sit.

2. Cheerleader--This person makes you feel good about yourself. They encourage you and help you to remember how great you are. They bring you joy and make you laugh!

3. Iron Sharpener--This person sharpens and refines you. They may also point out--in love--where you are not being your best. They do so because they love and they want you to be your best and not just the best you feel like doing.

4. North Star--This person has achieved something you aspire and they serve as a great example that can guide, shape, stretch, and sharpen you.

These folks need to have a seat somewhere else:

1. Hater--This person is unhappy and wants you to be unhappy too. They are jealous and sometimes mask envy with limited expectations expressed in sly remarks and nice-nasty comments. They secretly want to achieve what you have achieved, but they lack the confidence to try so they attempt to make you believe that you can't either.

2. Limitator--This person is limited by their negative views and wants to box you into their narrow-focused worldview. They can't see past their limited vision and attempt to cut your vision down to their comfort level.

3. Invalidator--This person is just nasty. They see the world in terms of all that is wrong and not only see the glass half empty, but somebody spit in their glass too! They are hurt, so they take out their hurt on the world.

4. Spectator--This person is just taking up space. They are just happy to be there. They do not take away from you, but they don't add value either.

But don't just invite people to your table or deny them a seat. Give them a reason to want to be there. Here are the things you should always serve at your table: Love, Openness, Honesty, Authenticity, Reciprocity, Peace, Inspiration, Motivation, Innovation, and Compassionate Confrontation.

Uh-huh! That last one surprised you, didn't it? Iron sharpens iron through friction. If you set an iron sword on a sharpening block, it will not be sharpened. If you bang the sword on the sharpening block, you will either break the block or break the blade. The sword is not sharpened until you take action to create friction for the purpose of sharpening the blade. The sword and the block work together to refine and improve. The friction sharpens the blade!

Create an environment where robust dialogue is appreciated. Don't create spectators by shutting down ideas that are different than yours or are not what you want to hear. If all you ever here is "Yes," you have a table full of spectators! "No" is not always a bad word. It is really an invitation for negotiation, dialogue, and innovation.

Now, close your eyes and envision who is at your round table. Who is seated there? Who should be seated there? Who should be asked to leave?

Whether your table is your circle of friends, team at work or community partners, you must be willing to take control of your invitation list. Make sure that you are deliberate in who is seated at your table. Sometimes you may even have to get up and start another table somewhere else!

But remember, your circle of influence is by invitation only. It is an exclusive list that should be reserved only for those who will add value to your life and to whom you can add value. Many are called, but few are chosen.


Stephanie Barnes Taylor is the CEO of The Fruition Group, LLC. A former corporate attorney and executive, Stephanie works with women to help them find their inner leader through her transformational coaching program, Fabulous University--where women learn to lead with brilliance! Stephanie helps women to have a fabulous career, business, and life! Being fabulous is to live and lead boldly, brilliantly, and vividly.

Stephanie Barnes Taylor can be reached at Stephanie@fabulousuniversity.me or call (855) 7-FABYOU. Visit www.stephaniebarnestaylor.com for more information. Follow Stephanie on Twitter and Periscope @crownedatbirth or www.facebook.com/StephanieBarnesTaylorAuthor