The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management: #14 Surround Yourself with Trusted and Loyal Friends


Do you give people your trust without expecting them to earn it? You willingly handing over your state secrets, disclosing to them private details of your life that you don’t want your boss or colleagues to know, knowing they haven’t proven their loyalty or trustworthiness to you.

Has a trusted friend or coworker broken their silence, breaking your implied rule of not telling anyone your opinion, committing a self-interested act that demonstrates a blatant disregard for your relationship, acting as if they did nothing wrong.

Developing Trusted and Loyal Friends

If this sounds familiar, then you’ve experienced friends or colleagues violating your trust. Personally, I’ve always been a private person, new friends or coworkers must prove their trustworthiness to me, after reflecting similar values and opinions, showing me they could be loyal to our relationship, as we build a trusted relationship based reciprocity of discretion and loyalty.

I have a close circle of trusted friends that I can count one hand, all of whom I willingly share all the details of my life and respect my need for privacy. Because of my cautiousness, I’m never betrayed by these friends or colleagues, after giving them complete access to my life.

When friends or coworkers violate my trust, I act quickly, assessing any damage that may have been done, taking action on minimizing the effects by containing the leak, distancing myself from the untrustworthy person, removing the responsible party from my circle, determining if I need to confront the person or quietly fade into the background.

While this may sound dramatic, I’ve learned over the years that people must earn my trust, after demonstrating a commitment to our relationship.

As you climb your career ladder, you too must learn when to how and when to give trust, by identifying your own set of standards of trusting people, unlearning to hand over trust to people who haven’t earned it.

Action Items

Surround yourself with trusted and loyal friends, with people who earn your trust, who demonstrate judgment in interpersonal relationships that also understand discretion in knowing when to keep your secrets.

Be prepared to deal with betrayal without ambivalence by learning how to contain the effects of the betrayal, by being decisive in your actions as you contain the problems caused by the disclosure, acting swiftly to confront the offender, and confronting the person when appropriate.

Be prepared to forgive, if the person becomes self aware of the consequences of their action, displays sincerity in their apology to you, demonstrating they have learned how to be discrete with relationship.

Failing to learn when to give trust in others and deal with betrayal only leads to future errors in your judgment of others.

If you don’t learn how to develop and nurture a close circle of friends, you open yourself up to people using you. While what I’ve described sounds like a lonely existence, it’s not. My circle of trusted friends are people I trust with my life. I have no doubt they feel the same about me.


The Smart Lemming Rules of Life and Career Management series outlines my rules of personal and work success. After reflecting on my personal values, I made this list, realizing values are my rules of being or life management principles. Based on your experiences, I hope this list inspires you to identify your own rules. Here are the rules to my success that may help you over the course of your journey:


Level 1: Rules for Our Fundamental Nature

Level 2: Rules of Continuous Learning and Modeling

Level 3: Rules for the Actual Journey

Level 4: Rules of Adapting to Environment and Interacting with Others

Level 5: Rules of Humility

Level 6: Rule of Being

  • #21 Be compassionate.