Behind every great individual... is a close friend?

June 18, 2012, 4:12 PM GMT+0

Earlier in the year, YouGov's public opinion polling discovered over half of people aged 18-24 feel that behind every successful person there is a key circle of five core people they can count on for advice and support – despite most of these respondents having over 100 friends on social media networks.

We wanted to find out what you thought of this: the extent to which you felt this was true of your own experience.

  • A slightly higher proportion of participants agreed with the statement, arguing that a network of support can provide you with the trusted advice, confidence and contacts you need to become successful.
  • Those who disagreed thought that success depended on the individual, and that the exact amount of core friends was not important. They also mentioned external factors, such as financial support, motivation, and upbringing, , which might have an effect on an individual’s ability to be ‘successful’.

Do you think a core group of 5 friends is necessary to be successful?

Join the debate below.

We asked: Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

“Behind every successful person, there is a circle of 5 core people"

YES, I agree

Friends are your support network

“It has been my personal experience that my core friends have been able to offer me advice, help and support through the whole of my life and they continue to do so, even in retirement” Val S, Bridlington

“A support structure is vital to success” Anon

Without encouragement, help and support from those people who are big influence in our life it's is quite impossible to achieve our dreamsB Sayed

“You need people to support you, whether financially, spiritually or emotionally to achieve success” Anon

Apart from some very driven individuals I don't believe you can pursue and achieve your goals without support. Without support, you can dissuade yourself from options you might otherwise experiment and ultimately thrive in” Niall M, Edinburgh

“I do believe that the support and help from close friends can build up success by being there to help when failure happens, stopping it becoming too much of an issue” Ali, Dundee


knowledge that there are people who are there for you makes it easier to try and fulfil your ambition

. It also helps to know they would still be there for you even if you didn't manage to do everything you had hoped”


You trust their advice

“Successful people invariably have a very supporting partner and family: these are the core to success as subjects can be discussed without fear of reprisalAnon

“It's important to have someone you can trust and discuss your feelings and ideas withDan T, Loggerheads

“They have known you for a long period of time – they know how you think and how your mind works so they know what to tell you to help you become successful” Anon

“Everyone, no matter how strong or independent they are, needs a friend to ask for advice now and again. A true friend will tailor their advice according to the person they know you to be. An acquaintance would only be able to give generic advice” Anon

“Friends keep us balanced. They are there to give us honest opinions, and tell us when we are making idiots of ourselvesAnon, Devon

“Close friends know you better and you trust them more” Anon

“They're a very good source of skills, knowledge and experience that you can learn from. They're your critical friends, and give you an outsider's perspective as well as share their own expertise and experiences” Cathy R, Devon

They make you feel good about yourself

“I feel much better and more confident when I have a really close knit group of a few friends that I can trust and count on” Anon

“True friends are a source of fun, comfort, advice and support. Being successful is more likely with these areas of help” Anon

“Their support and belief in me helps me have faith in myself, particularly in the difficult times. They keep me grounded, happy and strong because they know me so well” Anon

Having support is a huge confidence booster and gives you the opportunity to air opinions and ask for advice” Anon

“Humans need other people to spur them on and give them advice and motivation” Anon

Successful people have a number of people who support them, encourage them and talk about how fab they are, otherwise no one would know this ace person exists, certainly not the person themselves” Anon

“Having the support in whatever a person does would always lift someone's spirits; therefore they would be happier and more confident

. If they are feeling positive because of their support then they are likely to be more successful at it


They can be helpful with networking and planning your life

“I was supported and guided by a handful of people who knew me, knew my strengths and weaknesses and could take an objective view of me. I am sure that without this support I would not have gone for a promotionAnon

“Peoples' success tends to be associated with a well-constructed plan. Personally I have seen people have external assistance to construct and develop a personal plan, with a few key individuals providing core support and strategy for the individualHoward, Loughborough

“Friends can encourage you and in some cases actually help you achieve your goals” Brian, St Anne’s

“Friends are everything. If you have strong friends you can communicate with, then they will be contacts and help for a successful futureChris, Kent

“I work with a young entrepreneur and he has a core circle of mentors who help him keep direction and focus in building his business into a successAnon

“I have had friends who have helped me either to find a job or once I got a job” Bill N, Nottinghamshire

“I've been given advice and told about jobs in the wine trade by friends in the industry” Rupert, Woking

Support from a few friends with my business has been very helpful. It can be quite lonely being self-employed” Anon

NO, I disagree

The number of friends is not important

“In sports, profession and family I have found reasonable success with a core not exceeding 2 or 3. In remote locations, people have to be fairly self-sufficientJas B, Hebrides

As long as the friends you have are supportive of you it doesn't matter whether it's 3 friends, 5 friends or 10” Jen B, Chesterfield

“I don't think it needs to be as many as 5 or as little. Different people in a person’s life perform different functions and the personality of the person is also relevant. They may not need any support at all” Anon

“Success comes in all shapes and sizes, and every successful person has their own needs – that could be one person, five people or fifty people. Every situation is different” Chris B, Birmingham

Sometimes it only takes one person to help you with a tough decision, other times it’s many” Anon

“There are

plenty of successful people with many more ‘core friends’

and indeed, plenty with no ‘core friends’ at all”

Martine R, London

People have to make their own success

“I think having other people around you can help, but it's not necessary for successAnon

A person’s motivation, determination and drive for success come from within. Relying on a circle of friends for support is unrealistic. It all depends on the idea of 'success' and what the person’s goals are” Jenny E, Liverpool

“If we're talking about money and fame, than I think we can all think of a lot people who have achieved that, without having a consistent group of good friendsAnon

“I think support is important but I suspect there are many brilliant people who are fairly introverted and possibly even lonersAnon

“I think that successful people are successful through their own efforts, and tend to be independent of other people” Anon

“In my experience some successful people don’t have friends – they tend to have only business associatesAnon

“Any person achieving success has done so by their own ambition and drive to succeedAnon

There are other factors involved

“Having some close friends undoubtedly helps, but it's unlikely to be a hard and fast rule, not least because there are loads of socioeconomic factors behind successStephen, Chester

“It’s up to the individual – you can have all the support in the world but if you don’t act on it you are wasting timeAnon

“I do have a strong set of close friends but I don't think it makes any difference unless they are in positions to help youPhil O, Barnsley

“In my experience friends help and support in life but not specifically to do with careersAnon

“It depends much more than whether you have 5 core friends or not, it depends on upbringing, motivation, determination, as well as support from people close to you (including family)” Anon

“I think that everyone is different, and family are at just as important” Alice, London

“One needs support but not necessarily from friends. It requires respect, but that needs to be earned, not demanded, which means that you have to be competent to do the job which you are inAnon

Do you think a core group of 5 friends is necessary to be successful?

Join the debate below.

Follow and discuss: @YouGovLabs on Twitter