Merge's Blog

Who should you have by your side?

stephaniestaplesStephanie Staples is a recovering burnout nurse and a serial entrepreneur who has founded three businesses.  As she says, 🙂 two of those were successful, and one a nightmare … but you can’t win them all! She is a speaker, radio host and consultant, and I am proud to also call her my professional colleague and friend.  Today she guests on the blog, with a wonderful metaphor about who you should have by your side, as part of your personal support structure, to help you achieve great things in your life and career.

Who’s in your Front Seat – and Who should be in the Back?

No man is an island, it takes a village to raise a child, we can’t go it alone … All these clichés to say we need people to get through this crazy thing called life. 

Not just any people though – top-quality people.  Some people call it their dream team, their empowerment team or their board of directors – I call it front seat passengers.  The special people we want to ride with us on this journey of life and we want them in the front seat – helping us navigate, advising us as necessary, encouraging us when we are not sure and cheering for us when we avoid an accident or make a great move.  Some people are in the front seat of our cars because they are family, some are there because they have been there for a long, long time, some are there because they put themselves there. Still others are there out of habit, obligation, fear or plain laziness on our part to get them out.

Who would you choose to be by your side?

If we were to consciously, deliberately and purposefully choose who we wanted in our front seat with us and who should perhaps take the back seat (or maybe take another vehicle altogether) we could add a whole new and wonderful dimension to our lives.  Let me share with you a simple, but brilliant, tool that I have adapted from Dee-Dee Henley.  List the people in your world that you will be speaking with at least 10 times in the next couple of month.  That’s the simple part.  Beside each name write a line that signifies the conversation they embody, that is – a phrase that symbolizes, exemplifies, represents or personifies them.  That’s the brilliant part.  It may be a little hard to wrap your head around the idea at first but once you figure it out, it’s an amazing exercise.  To give you an idea of what it looks like, here are a few of my people and their conversations:

Spouse – “How can I make your life easier?”

Friend – “I care, now how can we make the world a better place.”

Friend – “Let’s do it!”

Relation – “I’m not sharing”

Relation – “Life is hard.”

Friend – “Everyone has a special gift.”

As you can see from these quick examples, it is super easy to run your finger down the list and decide who should be in your front seat, who should be coaching and advising you and who you should be spending more of your time with. More importantly, it is easy to see who you may want to consider spending less time with.   Funny, in my examples it was all relatives that should be in the back seat. Oops!

Be thoughtful about who’s in your car

Even if we can’t (and often don’t want to) remove these people from our lives, we can still be proactive and place boundaries around what we will and will not tolerate from them and be more conscious about the amount of time we spend together and its effects on us. It’s not always simple but chances are good it will be well worth it.  I have found it easier now to decide which relationships I want to spend more time nurturing and which ones I need to distance myself from. I find it interesting to notice when a new friendship is formed and how it slowly (yet, sometimes quickly) evolves from the get to know you stage to the “this person is front seat quality” stage.  This beautiful prose from J. Boswell really sums it up for me:  “We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed, as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is at last one which makes the heart run over.” — J Boswell

As you read these words, I invite you to consider keeping the “conversations they embody” question top of mind as you go through life in the next few weeks.  You may be surprised at what you discover!

Well, what have you discovered about the people in your car?  And do you have the right ones in your front seat?  Please share by adding your comments below.

Stephanie Staples is a motivational speaker, life coach and the author of When Enlightening Strikes – Creating a Mindset for Uncommon Success. She helps audiences & clients across North  America find more time, energy and motivation in their life and livelihood. Reach her through her website at

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