“I had friends who were close enough to me to tell me the truth about what I was missing, but I chose not to ask instead of asking. Asking meant they had the opportunity to hurt my feelings. Sure that is bad in the short term, but it is so much more useful in the long term. Even when I needed help most I wanted to appear as if I had it all together. In fact, it was one of my blind spots to care too much about other people’s opinions. Over time I began to accept and become familiar with how to overcome this. ”

Here is how you build an inner circle that creates lasting success for you. It’s quite simple once you set it in motion (in fact you’re probably already doing steps 1 & 2 in some forms without thinking).

  1. Create a team: Start by surrounding yourself with great people. You need people who agree with you so you can go far together. But you also need a few who aren’t afraid to disagree. In writing, authors call this a character foil. It is a character who opposes you that allows the reader to see your own characteristics. Let life see your best characteristics. Develop them through people who are similar and are different. Foil players and great ‘agree-ers’ are part of any great team.
  2. Talk shop: Life isn’t a game where you can afford to be a non-playable character (NPC), just going through the motions without making conscious decisions will not work for long. Find people in your circle to whom you can reveal your game plan for life (and theirs for you). These should be the ones who can look at the big picture with you, brainstorming the next move and defining what is most important for you. They should also listen well (and you to them) so that the conversation really goes some place.
  3. Seek the feedback you want (and don’t want): Pinpoint someone who will tell you what you’re doing wrong. Then you can strategize. But without this you will miss out on many opportunities to be better than you are. These people are the ones who help you understand your shrotcomings. And be this person for someone else too—it’s a two-way street. Beware of giving unwanted advice. But if you have a person who is willing to listen to you, it is because they value your opinion.

Imagine an athlete who seems to have it all together yet hides a fear of exposing their weaknesses. They have friends capable of offering valuable insights, but instead of asking for honest opinions, they avoid potential criticism to protect their ego. This blind spot is significant—it’s what I was dealing with for years. Over time, I learned to value open dialogue and seek out the tough feedback that leads to personal growth. In fact, I remember instances of not asking when people were willing to tell me or thinking people who told me were wrong or attacking my character.

This guide isn’t just about assembling a group of people; it’s about interacting with them in a way that makes everyone better. Be willing to find these mirrors for you in your life and to look into them. You might just find what you are looking for.


Written by Kyle Johnson
Kyle is a Founding Partner at My Mental Game. He is a professional hockey player in France and a Yale University graduate. His key areas of interest are neuroscience and psychology. Read more about Kyle.