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August 11, 2015
The 'Fab 5' of Your Work Life
You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. -Jim Rohn

I've heard this quote on various occasions. Every time I come across it, I pause for a moment, as the message that lives there is simply so powerful. What and who we surround ourselves with can affect us — and we can  begin to mirror the moods, problems, and passions of our surroundings.

When I originally considered the quote, I instinctively applied it to my personal life, quickly completing a review of my inner circle of friends and family. But then it dawned on me — we really should be applying this to our work lives as well. The same standard applies there. Who we surround ourselves with on a daily basis can affect our work lives tremendously.

I began to think of the "Fab 5" as it relates to specific work life goals. For example, finding the right guide to develop skill sets such as speaking more effectively, or becoming a tad more innovative. However, this application may prove too limiting. The "Fab 5" should have robust relevance to all aspects of work life — a group of key people to serve as a general “catalyst” to encourage exploration and excellence. As such, I modified the lineup to harness a broader application of the principle. (Take your time as you collect and mold this important group of individuals.)

One thing to keep in mind: Don't limit your "Fab 5" to those you can physically spend time with. Connecting online works as well. Look to channels such as LinkedIn or Twitter as potential sources to fill these roles. Those we connect with virtually can still have the power to change our perspective and drive us forward.
My choices for the "Fab 5":
  • A mentor. An individual who you feel most comfortable with. They should have a working knowledge of your general career direction or path. Trust is paramount and being candid is required.
  • A sponsor. This individual knows how to help you position yourself to make career progress. They'll help you consider options such as a "stretch assignments" or a strategic role on a team. They are masters at "career marketing.”
  • A collaborator. We all need a "co-conspirator" who allows you to free-associate and helps you bounce ideas around. They are likely to be quite creative and open, and not overly critical.
  • A devils' advocate. This role should be filled by someone who can "cut to the chase" and expose any weaknesses in your career logic. They help you to reveal obstacles and keep things "real.”
  • An entrepreneur. Somehow you just can't replicate the mindset of an entrepreneur. They are the whole package. Quick. Creative. Above all, gutsy. They won't let you sit on the sidelines of your work life for very long.
Would you benefit from a "Fab 5" in your work life? Who would you include?

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Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Organizational Psychologist who specializes in work survival strategies, corporate culture, and organizational change. She is a Practice Manager at Rand-Gottschalk & Associates, a consulting firm that helps employees and businesses excel.  She is author of the blog The Blend, which addresses current workplace topics and issues and also serves as a LinkedIn Influencer.
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