By Darren Hardy Success Magazine
The most profound influence from the “outer world” is most certainly OTHER PEOPLE.
“Associations are both subtle and powerful” -Jim Rohn
The people you allow into your life and who you spend the most time with, are the greatest external factors to the direction your life will take. Yes, external influences are that powerful.
It is known that you will be the combined average of the 5 people you hang around the most. You will have the combined lifestyle, health practices, thinking processes, expectations and INCOME.
Think about it. Whatever is consistently entering your experience ends up becoming your reality. So WHOEVER is consistently in your experience is bringing dominate thoughts, attitudes and actions to your reality.
Who we spend our time with determines what conversations dominate our attention and the observations, attitudes and opinions we are repetitively being 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.
Stephen Covey made a good analogy in the 8th Habit. He equated the unconscious matching of an association’s influence to that of walking with a friend. When you walk with someone, you will eventually and unconsciously end up matching their stride. If you are walking with someone who walks slowly, you will slow yourself down. If you are walking with someone who walks briskly, you will speed your stride to meet up with theirs.
Have you ever been out to eat with a group of people who are more health conscious than you might normally be? Did you find yourself compelled to order something a little more healthy than normal? That is the power of associations; you were influenced to match their “stride”.
Unfortunately the same compulsion is true if you go out to eat with a group and everyone orders multiple drinks, heavier foods, deserts etc. Even though you will try your best to be a maverick, over time you will slowly but surely start “matching” their stride as well. This is true of attitudes, expectations, perspectives, beliefs, opinions, etc – in EVERY area of your life.
Even the most omnipotent, self-contained individual is subconsciously lured into the grip of associations’ influence. One key Jim Rohn gives for improving your income is to check your associations.
If so, the best way to increase your own potential for whatever trait you are aspiring to is to spend the majority of your time with people who have that trait.
You will then see the power of influence work for you, rather than against you. You will then learn what they read, how they talk, how they observe circumstances around them and their attitudes about them. You will start to eat what they eat, exercise like they exercise and treat people as they treat people. You will start to see all of the behaviors and attitudes which ATTRACT that level of success to them, and by doing the same (creating the same causes), similar effects will be attracted to YOU.
As Jim Rohn suggests evaluate and shift your associations into 3 categories:
1) 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 have them occupy the dominate time you spend with people. Join organizations, clubs, business, health clubs, etc where these people are and make friends.
I also have a library of books and CD’s filled with positive associations that I spend an inordinate amount of time with. It is all about seeking out these expanded associations.
2) Limited Associations
There are some people that you can spend 3 hours with but not 3 days with. There are others you can spend 3 minutes with, but not 3 hours with. Remember, influence of associations is both powerful and subtle. Think of it as every minute you are getting a deposit of the dominate attitudes, actions and behaviors with whomever you are spending time with.
Decide how much you can “afford” to be influenced based on how that person represents themselves. This is difficult, I know. I have had to do this on several occasions, even with close family members. I WILL NOT however allow someone else’s actions or attitudes to have an indelible influence on me.
There are some people for whom you might need to break away completely. You guard against what influences your children are exposed to and the people they hang around with. You are aware of the influence that these people could have on them and the choices they might make as a result. This is the same for 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 any more. Decide the quality of life you want to have, then surround yourself with the people who represent and support that vision.
“Don’t join an easy crowd. Go where the challenge is great and the emotions are high. Go where the expectations are so strong that they provoke you, push you, and urgently insist that you not remain in one place. That way, you will grow and change.” – Jim Rohn