When we are young, we don’t always think about every one of our moves in terms of how it might be shaping our personal brand. However, as we become more aware of our surroundings and who we are, we begin to evolve. During this time, we may or may not consider how the people we interact with will, or we allow to shape and influence our lives. Or, perhaps not.
For those of you who would classify yourself as an inclusive person, and who embrace having lots of different people in your lives, I get you, and I’ve always have been this way too. Part of why I enjoy having such a diverse group of people in my life, is my fascination with each of them in terms of what makes them unique. A perfect example of this is one of my friends who I have referenced before. Her name is Ellen O’Brien.
Ellen is a renowned jazz and blues singer in New York City, and who hails from Boston. Although the two of us have a number of things in common, we probably have more things not in common if you were to compare our lists. In fact, it is the list of our opposite characteristics and interests that has bonded us over the years. Do you have an “Ellen” in your life?
Sometimes the people who are in our lives are there due to our life circumstances or the timing of where we are (e.g., school, neighborhood, work). However, I would be remiss if didn’t suggest to you that you should never use any of these as an excuse for not being able to broaden who you involve in your life. The important thing is to be aware of this, and to do something about it. Especially if the people in your life are what might in fact be our doppelgangers. In other words, being the same as everyone else may not work in your favor.
Another expression I am partial to is that “variety is the spice of life”. Naturally this concept can be applied to the type of people we surround ourselves with. Now, let’s pause for a moment and consider the people we have in our professional and personal lives. Did we choose to have them in our lives, or are they in it due to our current life circumstances?
Circling back to the question of “Who do you surround yourself with?”, have you ever given this some thought, or at least recently? If you haven’t, below are some suggestions I have for considering why you might want to do this. My suggestions also tie into a conversation I was having with one of my friends this morning. We were discussing how some people are in your life are there for a reason, season or a lifetime. If you are curious, he is in the last category.
- Think of yourself as a gardener. One of the main things they need to do to help their gardens grow, is to prune out items which are preventing growth. From time to time, we need to do the same thing with our personal or professional network.
- Do you have a criterion for evaluating why or how you let someone into your life?
- Are there people in your life who you would classify as toxic? If so, give serious thought to how you can reduce or eliminate the amount of time you interact with them.
- Consider who is in your current circle of influencers. Are they each contributing to advancing or holding you back? Also consider whether their influence has been impactful, and whether the impact has been positive.
- Look around you, whether physically or mentally. Are you in a place you want to be for the rest of your life? If not, do you have a plan in mind for how you can leverage the help from your network to help you get to where you want to be?
- Have you thought about whether you have settled on who you interact with out of ease of doing so because it is convenient to do so?
- Are you motivated to seek out meeting new people to include in your life?
- What methods do you typically apply to meet and develop your network and circle of influencers? During the Pandemic, we have had to resort to more on-line methods, but they can still be impactful if you are willing to give them a try (e.g., meeting someone for coffee over Zoom).
- Make a list of the positive and negative outcomes from the people you surround yourself with. Is your list balanced? Or, is one side longer than the other? If one is longer than the other, and it’s not the favorable side, it’s the perfect time for you to re-evaluate who you surround yourself with.
- Having outstanding people in our lives can be enriching in numerous ways, including being better for our health, and both physical and mental well-being.
Although as we get older some people are more reluctant to open up their circle of those who they include into the various layers of their relationship types, my feeling is that we should always embrace an opportunity to meet new people and integrate exceptional ones into our lives. I hope the people you currently or in the near future are exactly the type of people you would design and architect to be in your life. If not, perhaps you need to consider having a new blueprint drawn up.
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