The people we associate with can have an influence on us for good or bad. So it is important to choose our associations wisely.
Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Think about that. That means that if three of those people tend to be pessimistic, sarcastic, cynical or disparaging, the odds are that we will skew towards those characteristics as well.
When I worked for a company that was going through a difficult time, it was easy to commiserate with coworkers about the current crappy conditions, the future fears, etc.
In hindsight, it wasn’t very productive. It was actually destructive, because it did not result in hope or excitement about the future, or encouragement about moving to a different company. The Bible warns us about this when it says, “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) This is alluding to moral issues, but the principle is the same: stay away from negative people.
It’s important to be around people who are positive-minded and who will encourage you through your challenges, and on to your dreams and goals. I’m not talking about people who are naïve and clueless about the challenges of life, who see everything through rose-colored glasses. Rather, it’s people who recognize that challenges are real, life is real, and bad things happen—and probably have to them as well. But they still choose to have joy; to find the silver linings; to see the seeds of opportunity in every challenge.
Let me also clarify something—this is not about dumping the negative people in your life, be it friends or family. It’s about not letting them be a dominant source of negative input on a regular basis. You have to counteract that negative input with more positive input. But it doesn’t have to be limited to face-to-face interaction. There are at least three additional ways to supplement your daily input needs.
- Books—There are TONS (literally) of great books by great authors available to fill your mind with positive, can-do stuff. And they have never been easier to access! You can get all kinds of titles through the library, or on electronic devices (including smart phones), or even in audio format. In fact, you could be listening to uplifting audio books on your daily commute to and from work and turn your car into a “university on wheels”. Some of my favorites include anything by Og Mandino, The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, and anything by John Maxwell. There are a ton more I could mention like Chris Gillebeau, Jeff Goins, etc. Just get started!
- Podcasts—These have almost completely replaced radio for me. I have about 6-7 different podcasts that I rotate through on the podcast app on my iPhone and I am listening to and learning some amazing things. My favorites or “48 Days to the Work You Love”, “The Tim Ferriss Show”, “The Zig Ziglar Show” and “The Ray Edwards Show” and the “Focus on the Family Radio Broadcast”. I highly recommend this.
- Seminars/Workshops—These events will expose you to new ideas, new tools and new people—people who are probably like you—looking for new ways to do things to take control of their future. Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, tells the story of how his decision to attend a book publishing workshop changed his life. Because of the workshop, he learned some tips and tricks that enabled him to convert his 3-ring binder of career guidance material into his best-selling book (mentioned above). He has since built his entire business platform (which now includes coaching, seminars, more books and tools) around that initial first book.
The point is there are multiple tools and resources to surround yourself with mentors, leaders, coaches and more who can provide the guidance and encouragement to help you change your situation. If you’re not taking advantage of these resources, then you are choosing to stay where you are.
For your advantage,