“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. I’ve read and heard that Jim Rohn quote countless times, and recently it led me to think…not so much about the people I spend time with, but about the people who ‘have my ear.’ It wouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that leaders from all walks of life, from Fortune 100 CEOs to small business owners, rely on the people in their inner circles for counsel and guidance. We ALL need the wisdom and experience of others from time to time, and it’s a good idea to take a hard look at the influencers in our lives. One example of the import of this idea caught my attention recently. It comes from the story of the ancient King Rehoboam of Israel and Judah, who reigned between 932 BC and 913 BC. Now before you get nervous about my intention here, please rest assured that I’m not trying to convert anyone to Judaism; I’m using a historical figure to make a point so please stay with me for a few minutes.
According to the Old Testament book of 1 Kings, Rehoboam became king after the death of his father King Solomon, who is believed by many to be the wisest man who ever lived. Before his death, one of Solomon’s ‘appointed rulers’ rebelled against him. His name was Jeroboam, (to avoid confusion, I’ll respectfully call him Jerry), and he had to flee Solomon’s attempts to kill him. With Solomon gone, Jerry returned to Israel to negotiate peaceful terms with the new king, pleading with him to be more lenient with the people who had been abused by Solomon’s harsh labor and heavy taxes. Rehoboam asked for 3 days to make his decision and immediately consulted the old, wise men who had advised his father Solomon. The old men recommended that he become a ‘servant leader’, saying in effect, “serve them, treat them well, and they will be loyal to you forever.”
Rehoboam then consulted the young men with whom he grew up…his ‘crew’, if you will…who gave him the OPPOSITE advice, telling him to establish his authority by promising a firmer hand and harsher conditions. Rehoboam REJECTED the advice of the wise men and told Jerry and his followers that he would be harsher than his father. Consequently, about 90% of Israel rejected Rehoboam, and made Jerry their king, and there was constant conflict between him and Jerry until he died. Here’s the thing: Rehoboam’s father Solomon, THE WORLD’S WISEST MAN, HAD ADVISORS, and Rehoboam had access to their wisdom and experience! Yet he REJECTED their counsel, ‘gave his ear’ to his crew, and both he and the nation paid a steep price.
It’s hardly likely that you will find yourself in Rehobaom’s situation, but it’s important to take a stock of the influencers in your life. I have a few…starting with my wife Andrea and my family. I’m also blessed to have received wise counsel from some of my fellow World Champions of Public Speaking, pictured with me above. David Brooks, Craig Valentine, Ed Tate, Darren LaCroix and Jim Key have all offered me wise counsel at one time or another and I am grateful for it. That there are FIVE of them is entirely coincidental. I’m forever thankful that my wife and family, my spiritual leaders, and my closest friends have my ear. So who are YOUR influencers? Who has YOUR ear?