As far as progress is concerned, I believe two things with all of me:
(1) There is a lot of power in our thought
(2) we really can’t live above them.
Another strong belief of mine is that there is great power in our associations as well. Who you hang out with has a lot to do with who you are becoming! Actually, Jim Rohn tells us we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most. The people we spend our time with determine what conversations dominate our attention, and what observations, attitudes and opinions we repetitively are introduced to. Eventually, we start to eat what they eat, talk like they talk, read what they read, watch what they watch, treat people how they treat them, even dress like they dress and think like they think. All the while you might not even be conscious of it.
Your associations don’t shove you in a direction; they nudge you ever so slightly over time. The influence is so subtle it is like being on an inner tube out in the ocean, feeling like you are floating still, until you look up and realize the subtle current has pushed you a half mile down the shore. You will have the combined attitude, health and income of the five people you hang around the most.
Whenever you can, take some time to evaluate (and shift) your associations into 3 categories:
There are some people you might need to break away from completely. You guard against the influences your children are exposed to and the people they hang around with. You are aware of the influence these people could have on your children and the choices they might make as a result. This same principle should apply to you. This might not be an easy step to take, but it’s essential. You have to make the hard choice not to let certain negative influences affect you anymore. Decide the quality of life you want to have, and then surround yourself with the people who represent and support that vision.
2. Limited Associations
There are some people who you can spend three hours with, but not three days. Others you can spend three minutes with, but not three hours. Remember, the influence of associations is both powerful and subtle. You get a deposit of the dominant attitudes, actions and behaviors of the people you spend your time with. Decide how much you can “afford” to be influenced, based on how those people represent themselves. This is difficult, but we should not allow someone else’s actions or attitudes to have an indelible influence on us.
3. Expanded Associations
Whatever area of your life you want to see improvement in, find someone who represents the success you want, the parenting skills you want, the relationship you want, the lifestyle you want, and spend more time with those people. Join organizations, clubs, businesses and health clubs where these people are and make friends.
I know this may sound foolish to some of you, but a great thing to do is to develop your own personal “Board of Advisors,” even if only in your mind. Pick a handful of people hand-selected because of their area of expertise and creative thinking ability. When you are tempted to go the wrong way, or up against a wall, reach out for their help, or if they are imaginary, sit down and picture their counsel to you. The benefits you will receive are profound!
Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.
Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.