The people and ideas that we are exposed to day in and day out can influence our emotions, our decision-making, and ultimately how we approach success. Taking the time to cultivate good relationships, removing negative influences, and carefully filtering how we stimulate our brains is an investment in creating positive energy in our lives. Today we talk about the importance of a positive sphere of influence, and ways to improve our circle if changing it completely is not an option.
Level the Pursuit is a podcast for people ready to make the most of every opportunity In the race for success, we're not all starting from the same place. Level the Pursuit seeks to fill in the gaps and provide accessible bite sized leadership lessons for anyone looking to improve their skills and prepare for the next step, whatever that might be. Last week, we talked about getting ahead during COVID. Finding a job figuring out how to stay in your current situation, or making the most of the virtual work environment can be really hard, especially since there's not an instruction manual for the craziness that's happened this year. If you're not sure what to do next, or you're looking for a new situation, there are resources, there are tricks, and tons of opportunities to improve if you're willing to go after them. So peeps, today is my 20th episode and it's the last episode of this first season of Level the Pursuit. For all of you guys who are regular listeners, thank you for hanging with me as I figure this out. As you know, the whole point of this was to take pieces of my 25 years of trial and error, and hopefully put some information out there so maybe some of you might avoid some of the mistakes I made. There are topics you'd like me to cover, or guests you'd like me to include so that we can have some new perspectives, please send me an email at [email protected] or go to the website and drop a comment. Well, I have learned a ton over the last few months, but this was really supposed to be for you. So if I can give you something better, please let me know. And as always, if you think I'm off base, or just full of it, tell me that too. I can't get better if I don't know what I'm doing wrong. So I mentioned guests. And as we go into the second season, I'm hoping to include perspectives from leaders across the spectrum. There are so many of us that we can't even begin to understand from our single vantage point. So I'd like to bring in some people who can add to all of our understanding and make us all better. So along these lines, today, we're going to talk about people with whom we surround ourselves and what that means for our success. In our personal and professional lives. The people around us influence our actions our decision making, and the way we feel. So it's no surprise our ability to rise or fall can absolutely be tied to the people in our world, as much as our talent or our drive. Over the next week. Think about the people in your sphere of influence. What energy are you inviting or tolerating in your life? making a change can be complicated, and emotionally earthshaking. But if your success and well being are at risk, you might want to give it some thought. So today's topic came about when I was chatting with a friend recently about her job. We worked together several years ago, and this woman was seriously one of the sharpest people I've ever had the pleasure to work with. She was telling me about having a recent performance appraisal with her boss, and how much she appreciated her boss's feedback. As we discussed it, she she talks about how she respected the way her boss led. And she mentioned that looking back, she felt really lucky that she'd been able to work with so many great female leaders. But I had to stop her because that's not an accident. She invited people to be their best around her. She was smart, and articulate and fun and good natured and willing to help. And when you behave that way, it's really hard for people around you not to behave that way in return. And so it was a pleasure to be around her, it was a pleasure to work with her. And it was a pleasure to try to push her forward and encourage her to excel. And so I have no doubt that her current boss feels the same way. But she invites that into her life. So by that what I mean is, our own behavior encourages people around us to behave in a certain way. That is not to say that if you're a good person, everyone around you is always going to be a good person. And if the people in your life are bad people, it's because you're a bad person. That's not what I'm saying at all. But the people we choose to surround ourselves with, and the people that we choose to associate with do influence our behavior and how we think about things. And we influence them then in turn, so how we're interacting with our environment, with the people around us, with our friends, of friends, with our communities, all of that influences what we get back and how we feel about our day to day activities. You may have heard that you're the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. And this is attributed mostly to motivational speaker Jim Rohn. But other people have had similar kind of takes on that situation. And the idea behind it is the five people who take up the most of your time are a reflection of who you are in what you choose to do with yourself. And you thought you may have also seen "Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future" or something like that. So there's some truth to that, right. Because the people that you spend the most time with are going to have the most opportunity to influence your behavior and you think, but they're also going to influence the circumstances that you find yourself in. So one of the ways you see this is by your your stimulation and your ambition. If you're in a job where no one has a college degree, then that is the acceptable level of education. So your motivation to get a college degree may not be as much because no one else around you has them. Now, if you get hired for a job where everyone has a master's degree, and you just have a bachelor's degree, then you may feel pressure to get a master's degree. Now, obviously, internal motivations and personal goals affect this. But the way that people around you view education can absolutely affect your views on education. The same thing as the conversations you have, if everyone around you spends all day talking about football, at some point, you're either going to learn about football, or you're going to find different friends, right? So you're going to figure out how to work with that environment or you're going to remove yourself from it. If your friends only want to talk about what's happening with the Kardashians, then your interest on the merits of fracking may not go over that well. But on the flip side, if your friends only talk about, you know, world politics from 1942 to 1947, well, at some point, you're going to learn about that. So the people around you are going to affect what you think about and the information that you choose to consume, and kind of your views on politics, on history on pop culture, any of those things. Additionally, if the people around you had experience in the field that you want to go into, then your chances of having more mentorship and guidance are going to go up. I mean, that's pretty straightforward. If no one around you has interests similar to yours, then your chances of having my guidance among your friends is going to go down. When I applied to college-- I'm from Texas, and not a lot of people leave the state. And so I didn't have a lot of friends, I actually did have some friends that applied out of state. But for the most part, the vast majority went to college in state. And so I didn't have a lot of people that were saying, hey, that's a great idea. And most of my friends were like, That's stupid. Why would you not just go to UT or A&M. But that was not my my goal. And so I had to have that inside myself. Because the people around me we're not necessarily encouraging all the time about that. Additionally, your relationships with the people around you can really affect your ability to give feedback and to respond to feedback. If you have very open relationships where you can joke around, you can give negative feedback, you can correct one another, well, that's going to make it a lot more comfortable for you to do that. You're going to be more comfortable telling people when they've messed up, you're going to be feel less judged when they have to tell you that you've messed up. But you have if you have relationships where everyone is superficial, they don't talk, they won't have a hard discussion, they're not willing to be corrected or willing to put themselves out there to correct someone else, well, then you're not going to get a whole lot better as far as feedback from the people who see you the most because no one's giving that feedback and letting you practice what it feels like to recover from hearing those things. And then finally, there's the engagement with society and the world around you. If the people that you're around are all activists, and they care about politics, and they care about the environment, and they care about, you know, helping the homeless, and they care about, you know, ending child sex trafficking, then you're likely to be engaged in those two. But if they care about sitting on the couch and playing Fortnite, then that's probably what you're going to do as well. So the more time that you spend with people who are engaged outside, the more likely you are to be as well. Another thing that that people around you can influence are your habits and how you spend your time and energy. And the first way is your nutrition and movement. If the people around you, your spouse, your friends, your co workers are really into fitness, well, you're likely to do that as well. If your spouse blocks time after work, to go to the gym, then you can feel good about blocking time at the same time. Or, you know, if you have to juggle the kids, maybe you do it at a different time. But that is relevant, and it is fair and equitable to do that. However, if they don't, it's going to be harder for you to carve out that time. You know, if your co workers like to eat out every single lunch, well then you're more likely to do that it's a little bit harder to feel included and bring your lunch and sit at the office while everyone's gone each day. So how those people view food and exercise can really influence how you do as well. Another way is in activities like drinking partying, using drugs, things like that any kind of criminal activities. If you're if the people closest to you, if the people in your sphere think that those things are good to do then you're likely to do them. You know a lot of people's friends it's not really fun to go out unless they're drinking. Well if that's the case, then unless you get roped into being the designated driver every time, which if you're willing to do that then you're awesome and hopefully they appreciate you. But if you don't then you can feel pressure to drink you can feel pressure to smoke or use drugs or whatever it is that they're into. And as far as criminal activities you know if the people around you feel its okay, then your threshold for thinking things okay can be affected by that. That's not to say that it necessarily compromises your values. But it can be harder to stand up for it, especially everyone you know, is doing something that you disagree with. And as you look at the people around you, it can really affect how you view yourself. If you think the people around you are not good people, it's very easy to extrapolate that onto yourself and view yourself as not being as good of a person as you could be. It the respect that you have for these people is going to influence how much respect you have for yourself, how you take care of yourself, your self talk, if you allow yourself to be surrounded by people who say things to you that are negative, that are denigrating, that are bad for your self esteem, then your self talk is likely to be influenced by that as well. And it can just generally affect your outlook, and your mood and your attitude. So if you're surrounded by people who want to make the world a better place, my current job everyone I work with is so positive, and so excited about doing the right thing and teaching people and helping them to learn. I mean, it's hard not to feel that way just because it's so contagious. But a negative attitude is also contagious. If you have that one person that complains constantly in your office, and you sit next to them, that is very likely to bring you down. There's been studies that show if you put someone next to the most productive person in the office, their productivity will go up. And if you put them next, the least productive, or the most complaining person office, their productivity will go down, even if they're not friends, just the proximity can affect that. Now, if you think in terms of this, it kind of apply implies that you're influenced by the people that you choose to spend your time with. But it also includes the people that you don't choose that they can still influence you, your co workers, even the ones you don't hang out with, your family members, even the ones that are not in your home, you know, your boss, there's a lot of people in your life, that can also influence you, even if you don't have direct contact with them. And there's a recent study that showed that friends of friends can influence how your how you behave, including obesity. The study actually looked at your chances of becoming obese, were higher if a friend of a friend was also obese, which is crazy just to think about. But if you think of the tolerance, if you think of the attitudes around food and exercise, just for that particular issue, you know, those things tend to translate. And so if I have a friend who does a lot of bad things, and I choose to be friends with them, then I'm more likely to be tolerant of bad things. And so if I become friends with you, and you want to do bad things, well, I'm less likely to keep you from doing them. Because I've already become tolerant for that. So you can see how that will influence you. People's positions and the circumstances can absolutely affect their ability to influence you. But even people that are not in close proximity that are far removed from you can have influence over your life. And so you really need to take a close look at what is influencing you day to day. If you have times in your life in your day where you feel incredibly negative or down, we're having a hard time, you need to look at what was influencing you in that moment. Who were you around? What meeting did you go to? And who talked to you in it? Were you looking at social media? Were you watching television, like what were the circumstances around those moments, because those influences really do affect how you move forward. And so when you look at this, again, if you have a lot of negative influences in your life, that does not mean you're a bad person, there are a lot of circumstances beyond our choice that affect who is in our life. But it could mean that you are tolerating negative influences in your life. And so there are times that we don't make an effort to remove these influences from our life, even if we could. And so you need to look at that a little bit more closely. But there are definitely times where your boss, a co worker, maybe someone in your family that you don't have control over the proximity. I mean, that can be really, really hard for people. But if you have even one person in your life that respects and admires you the way you respect and admire them, that can be a really positive thing, because having even one positive influence is a great place to start. So I recognize though, as we're talking about this, some of you may be thinking, Okay, cool, but I can't do anything about the people in my life or this certain person who is the overriding negative influence. And I got to ask you first, are you sure that you can't change it? I will tell you I had a really, really negative influence in my life for a long time. And I really didn't believe that I had the power to change that and I could not stand who I was around this person. Just every interaction brought out the absolute worst in me, I would see myself behaving in a way that made me feel so bad about myself. And this isn't to say that person was a bad person, someone that brings out the worst in you or as a negative influence on you does not have to be a bad person and they don't even have to be doing the wrong thing. But If their behavior causes you to behave in a negative way, then that's not good for you, it doesn't necessarily mean anything about them, it just means that that relationship is not pushing you in a positive direction. So it took me a long time to realize that I did in fact, have the power to change that dynamic and to remove that influence from my life. And it was one of the hardest, but the most rewarding decisions I've made. Because it really opened me up to seeing so many other things in my life and being able to improve so many things, I learned a ton about myself, because I was behaving in a way that I thought was wrong. And so enable in being able to embrace that and being able to remove that influence from my life, I was able to look, take a harder, look at myself and improve myself. So it wasn't about that person's behavior. It was about my behavior around them. And so that was really powerful for me to find a way to get past that. But if you really can't remove this person from your life, for whatever reason, you need to put things in perspective, how much influence do they actually have over you? How much weight do you give to their words? How much do you actually control your behavior around them? How much do you actually live up to your goals, and your values and what you believe in for yourself when you're around them? Because if you're not doing that, that's not on them that's on you. So you need to put that in perspective and do a better job of being who you want to be. Additionally, you can dilute their influence. So especially if it's a coworker or a friend, that you're not particularly close to bring other people around, have more people so that you don't feel that influence as much See if you can kind of load the boat with people, lots of different perspectives, lots of different ideas, so you don't feel that influence as acutely when you're around them. And you can also find an alternate focus. So if this person is prominent in your life, if you can find someone else to counterbalance them. So this could be a role model, a person that you know, and you want to be like it can be a mentor who guides you. But it could also be a hero, it can be a famous person, it could be someone that just takes your mind off of whatever it is that stresses you out, I will tell you, since we've been in COVID, I have started watching Bailey Sarian, who is this makeup artist who also likes murder mysteries. And I will tell you, it's one of the most entertaining things ever. And it also makes me play with makeup because I didn't really wear makeup until I was like 35. And so I absolutely love it. And it's something to focus on. And it always brightens my day, especially when I'm in a bad mood. So thank you, Bailey. So it really doesn't matter. But you have to find something that counterbalances that influence in your life. And then, you know, most of this is I've been talking about people, but it applies to all of the stimuli in our lives. There are so many things that take up our time and energy. And everything that you feed into your brain is providing stimuli. And it is eliciting chemical reactions. And it is causing your moods and your ways of thinking and all of your connections. It's influencing all of that stuff. So if you're looking at a ton of social media, if you follow news outlets, if you want someone like me, who gets their news from social media, if you read books, if you listen to podcasts like this one, because you're awesome, if you watch movies, whatever it is, all of those pictures and words and ideas and feelings, all that stuff is affecting how you think, and ultimately how you think about yourself. So if you find that you spend some time on Facebook, and the political debates, get you so riled up that your heart is pounding, dude, stop doing that. It's not good for you find something else. You know, if you find that watching television relaxes you, do that instead, if you find that you need to go for a run, do that. But you should spend your time doing things that make you feel better after doing them not worse. Now, that's not to say that negative things don't have a place in our lives. And obviously, having you know, a disagreement in a healthy relationship. getting that negative feedback, just having a rough day-- those things happen. I'm not saying that you have to not have negative things happen in your life. Unfortunately, that's just not a thing. But if you have any person, item, thing in your life, that is consistently providing negative energy and affecting how your mood, which in turn affects how you interact with people, which in turn affects your potential for success. Well, man, you got to look at that and you got to figure out a better way around that. So think of all the information we take in each day, the feelings, the words, our interactions, the data, think of it as food, to fuel our intellect in our outlook as we move towards success. As much as we can, good wholesome positive fuel will keep us moving forward. And I'm not saying watch Disney movies all day long. I'm just saying, use a concerted mind to filter through these things, balance them out. And don't let yourself get all turned up, rather than this junk that just slows us down and makes us feel crappy. As you look at the people around you, if you're happy with what you see, that is awesome. If you have strong family ties, a supportive network, and good friends who are there when you need them, that is really great. And more than likely, it's because you're also a good friend who takes care of people and respects them. So continue to do what you can to make those relationships strong. If you're not happy with what you see, then you need to take some time thinking about why that might be. There are times that it is easier, it is more comfortable. And it's less scary, to just stay with what we know, rather than trying to change it. And even if we're not happy, you know, there's a saying about the known evil is a little bit more tolerable than the unknown. So if you have people that are just almost unbearable, it's that almost that keeps you tolerating it, and the fear of going to a situation that is truly unbearable, that might hold you in place. There's also the ties of family, there's legalities, there's shared history, there are children, there are friends in common, there are workplace requirements, and there's the fear of being alone. All those things can really influence whether or not we're able to end a relationship. So if you choose not to end a relationship that you don't feel is great for you. If you can find ways to make it better, if you can address them with the person themself and actually improve that relationship, that would be awesome. And if you're willing to do that, and they're willing to do that, then that is half the battle right there. But if they're not, or if you're not honestly, then using the other ways to try to minimize the influence of something you can do. And if you don't currently have someone in your life that makes you feel positive, you need to find someone, whether it's online or a real person, someone you work with, you need to expand your circle and meet somebody that makes you feel positive in your life. Now, don't go outside your vows don't do something stupid that jeopardizes your career. But cultivate a friendship, a mentorship, or just a network contact that makes you feel positive about things that are going on in your life. It is worth the time to cultivate a relationship like that. This week, spend a moment thinking about how you spend your time. Are the people in your life concerned about your well being encouraging you to follow your dreams, and instilling positive habits that will help you succeed. Is your time reading or online constructive and positive? Or is it causing you stress and killing your outlook? Do the people and activities that take your time leave you feeling upbeat and encouraged, or depressed and cynical? I realize it's not reasonable simply to cut negative people from our lives not at least not all of them. Unfortunately, they're often our spouses, our parents, our co workers. And so they're there all the time. And that's why their influence is so powerful. But if you can remove these people from your life, you should do it. Believe me as hard as it is, you'll be so grateful that you have the strength to do it. But if you can't find some ways to dilute their influence, minimize your exposure to them. If you can find other people or outlets to balance those feelings that they elicit in you. Focus on good habits that are important to you. And don't let them break you down. Remember, you are a good person, and you have the potential to do great things. And if I'm the only person in your life that tells you that, well, every streak has to start with one. That's our discussion of how we're influenced by the people in our lives. If you like today's episode, please give it a LIKE, SUBSCRIBE or share. If not, please drop me a note of what I can do better. Since this is the end of the season, I'm going to take a couple weeks to get stuff ready for season two. I'll have some mini episodes just to say hi to all you rockstars and I'll be back full speed around Thanksgiving. Thank you all for your support so far. Your comments and feedback totally made my day. Don't forget to think about who and what are influencing your success. If you have ideas to make it better. Head over to www.levelthepursuit.com to share the great things you're going to accomplish. I can't wait to learn from your thoughts. Thanks again for joining level the pursuit. While, we can't choose where we start, we can choose our dreams and how we pursue them. Remember, success is a team sport and there's room for all of us to achieve our goals. So be a good leader. Be a good follower. And do something great.