“Your associations should move you forward, not impede your progress.”
If you were to evaluate the major influences in your life that have shaped the kind of person you are, this has to be high on the list: the people and thoughts you choose to allow into your life.
Many times we don’t even realize we’re being strongly affected because influences generally develop over an extended period of time.
If you’re around people who spend all they make, chances are excellent you might spend all you make. If you are around people who don’t read, chances are excellent that you probably won’t read.
Three key questions to ask yourself. They might help you better analyze your current associations.
1. Who am I around?
Make a mental note of the people with whom you most often associate. You’ve got to evaluate everyone who is able to influence you in any way.
2. What are these associations doing to me?
That’s a major question to ask. What have they got me doing? What have they got me listening to? What have they got me reading? Where have they got me going? What do they have me thinking? How have they got me talking? How have they got me feeling? What have they got me saying? You’ve got to make a serious study of how others influence you, both negatively and positively.
3. Is that OK?
Maybe everyone you associate with has been a positive, energizing influence. Then again, maybe there are some bad apples in the bunch.
You’ve got to keep checking to find out whether your associations are tipping the scales toward the positive or toward the negative. Ignorance is never the best policy. Finding out is the best policy.
It’s easy to let influence shape our lives, to let associations determine our direction, to let pressures overwhelm us and to let tides take us. The big question is: Are we letting ourselves become what we wish to become?
Here are three ways to handle associations or relationships that might be holding you back.
This is not an easy decision, nor something you should take lightly, but in some cases it might be essential. You might just have to make the hard choice not to let certain negative influences affect you anymore. It could be a choice that preserves the quality of your life.
2. Limit the association.
Spend major time with major influences and minor time with minor influences. It is easy to do just the opposite, but don’t fall into that trap. Take a look at your priorities and your values. We have so little time at our disposal. Wouldn’t it make sense to invest it wisely?
3. Expand your associations.
This is the one we suggest you focus on the most. Find other successful people you can spend more time with. Invite them to lunch (pick up the tab) and ask them how they have achieved so much or what makes them successful. Now, this is not just about financial success; it can be someone you want to learn from about having a better marriage, being a better parent, having better health or a stronger spiritual life.
It is called association on purpose: getting around the right people by expanding your circle of influence.
Here are a few final thoughts on associations and influence:
When you succeed, you will create and attract more success around you. Success breeds success, so when you succeed, even at just a level above where you are right now, you will see that the people you associate with will also start becoming more successful themselves (which will also increase the level of your own associations!). That is one of the exciting byproducts of success.
Initiate relationships with people who are further ahead in personal and professional development than you are. There are so many successful people around you who can help you in so many ways!
Have people around who you can rely on to speak the truth to you. We need people who will tell us the truth. Even if it is negative, given with a heart of concern, truth will still build us up and move us forward.
Remember, your associations should move you forward, not impede your progress.