The following article was taken from my upcoming book titled, Unlock Yourself. It has been re-purposed for this article on LinkedIn. The book is currently available on Amazon Kindle for FREE until April 24th.
Where you end up in life is heavily influenced by the people you associate with. You tend to go in the same direction as those who you spend the most time with. Have you heard the saying, birds of a feather flock together?
It’s true! But here’s the thing, it works both ways. If you are currently surrounded by negative people who have no hope for their futures and low standards or expectations for themselves, guess who you will become? The same type of person as them.
However, if you plant yourself around people who are excited about life and creating a future that they’re excited to live, you will mimic those behaviors.
I heard it put this way, if you want to have a big dream, a dream that is tied to significance and impact, you have to hang around big dreamers. Optimizing your growth environment is being very selective with who you spend your time with.
1. Leadership Conferences
A major way to upgrade your associations is to attend leadership conferences. Leadership conferences provide a unique atmosphere that you just won’t find in everyday life. Typically, they’re weekend-long events that provide a variety of speakers and workshops that will help you gain new skills and/or sharpen soft skills you already have.
The biggest benefit, in my opinion, is the networking opportunities. At these events you rub shoulders with people who are in pursuit of something, people who are passionate about a dream, people who challenge the status quo. You begin to expand your mind to new possibilities because of the ideas that are shared and the atmosphere you’re in. Fact⸺ your network will determine your net worth.
It is important to surround yourself with people who are headed in a similar direction as you. The best associations are with those who are further along than you, who can give you valuable advice that will help you move forward.
If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. In order to continue to grow yourself, you have to find people who are smarter than you who can help you climb to new levels. Otherwise, you will never learn anything new and you limit your own life progression.
Thinking back, I’ve been attending conferences for a significant part of my life. I remember back to a time when I was in elementary school when I had the opportunity to attend a day conference where I got to hear Ray Lewis speak.
If you don’t know, Ray Lewis, he was the Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. When I was a kid, he was one of my biggest role models who I looked up to. His speech helped me believe that I had a chance to pursue my dreams.
In middle school, I remember being selected to represent my school at HOBY Youth Leadership conference. The people I met there, and the things that I learned, helped shape the positive mental attitude I still have to this day.
In high school, I had a business teacher, Mrs. P., who encouraged me to join Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and DECA where we got to travel around the country to compete in events related to the business world. It was at these events, where I refined my presentation and communication skills.
Today, I attend at least one leadership event a quarter. Why? Because in a world that is full of people who will drag you down, both intentionally and unintentionally. These conferences bring me life. It lights a fire inside and inspires me to keep pressing on in the pursuit of my dreams. It helps keep the bigger vision in front of me.
Listen, we can all get weighed down by the everyday responsibilities of life. Sometimes, the daily repetitions can make us forget why we’re doing something in the first place.
However, when you’re in an arena with 18,000+ people who are fired up about their visions and making an impact, you have no choice but to shake off the weight and sprint, full speed, toward your upshot.
Think about the most positive person that you know. The person who, no matter what is going on, always have a smile on their face and an overall upbeat personality. When you interact with that person, you usually feel better when you’re around them right?
Now imagine a room where you multiply that person by 1,000! Imagine the feelings you’ll have, the excitement that you’ll get, the vibrations of energy in that room! That’s the emotion you feel at these leadership events.
2. Who Do You Spend Your Time With?
It’s understood, that you are the average of the top five people you spend the majority of your time with. Typically, you have jobs where you make the same amount of income, your family size is about the same, you share the same beliefs, and, maybe even play the same games or sports. The real question is, how you want to spend the rest of your life?
Do you want the rest of your life to be amongst the mediocre? I didn’t. I wanted to upgrade my life which meant I needed to upgrade my association. I needed to identify people who had higher averages than me. People who challenged my thought process and encouraged me to expand my comfort zone. I wanted to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Coach Junker, my high school football coach, asked a simple yet profound question right before a huge game during the season. Our opponents were a powerhouse football team who had been undefeated for three straight regular seasons.
We were suited up and awaiting Coach to enter the locker room…he stormed in, threw his hat on the table, and yelled, “WHO WOKE UP TODAY AND SAID THEY WANTED TO BE AVERAGE?! ‘CAUSE I SURE AND HELL DIDN’T!” I feel the goosebumps on my arms right now as I reflect on this moment in my life.
Honestly, I ask myself that question every single day. I didn’t want to be average back then; I don’t want to be average now; I won’t ever be average! In order to avoid a life of mediocrity, you have to create an environment, a group of people who hate mediocrity just as much as you do; people who declare average as not good enough.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, we won that game and gave Eastern Tech their first lost in the regular season in three years. Our team rose above average that day. We went on to become 2A/3A division champions that season.
At some point, you’re going to have to ask yourself the same question that my coach asked me, “Who woke up and said they wanted to be average?”
I hope your answer is the same as his.
3. Tank vs Ocean
I learned an interesting fact about sharks when I was a kid. A shark will only grow to the size of its environment. If you put a shark in a household fish tank, it will only grow eight inches, while sharks in the ocean will grow eight feet or more!
The same is true with you and your environment⸺ and I’m not talking about your physical environment. I’m talking about the environment of association you choose to create. The reason why you’re not growing is because you continue to hang around with middle of the line, small thinking, mediocre people.
When you take yourself out of those types of environments and place yourself in an atmosphere where people are moving toward their solution, instead of sulking in their problems, you’ll set yourself up for the success you want to create.
Remember this⸺ you can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people you choose to be around.
About the Author:
Eddie is an author and keynote speaker. He has a passion to help youth and young adults to break self-limiting beliefs and earn the success they were all born to create. If you’re interested in booking Eddie at your next event, click here.
You can learn more about his story here.
If you want to connect with Eddie, he can be found hanging out on: