So you now have your well-designed SMART goals—fantastic!
You also have your plan of action to achieve them—hooray!
You even have your achievement-management system set to keep you on track with that plan—bravo!
What could possibly get in your way now?
Actually, 7.7 billion things (the world’s current population at the time of this writing), or at least those people whom you circulate with regularly.
Your associations are one of the most powerful influences that determine whether you will stick to your goals or get forever derailed.
Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University concluded after 25 years of research that the choice of a negative “reference group” was in itself enough to condemn a person to failure and underachievement in life. Scary, isn’t it?
His discovery indicates that your reference group is more important in determining your success or failure than any other single factor.
“Associations are both subtle and powerful.” —Jim Rohn
Your associations don’t shove you in a direction; they nudge you ever so slightly over time. Influence is so subtle that it is like being on an inner tube out in the ocean; you feel like you are floating still, until you look up and realize the subtle current has pushed you half a mile down the shore.
Jim Rohn explains:
“You will become the combined average of the five people you hang around the most. You will have the combined attitude, health and income of the five people you hang around the most."
Write down the names of the five people you hang around the most. Then write down how they support you in one column, and how they don’t support you in another column. I.E. Under John, you may write down. He did support me when I wanted to change jobs. He did not support me when I wanted to buy a dog. Do that with multiple topics and with each person. Then see who out of your 5 people support you the most. You will see clearly that the company you are keeping might be what’s standing between you and what you want to achieve.
This may sound harsh. But sometimes the truth is harsh. You already know this.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.”—Mark Twain
If you are really going to go for it. If you’re going to reach, stretch and do things you’ve never done before. If you are going to be able to achieve things you’ve never achieved before. You will need to reappraise and reprioritize the people you surround yourself with. These relationships can nurture you, suck the life out of you, or keep you right where you are.
Jim Rohn said...
“It’s powerful to evaluate and organize your associations into three categories: dissociations, limited associations and expanded associations”.
- Disassociations – There are some people you might need to break away from completely. What friend(s) do you have that if you were your own parent, you wouldn’t let yourself hang around because of their influence? Cut them loose.
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 anymore. Decide the quality of life you want, and 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
- Limited Associations – There are some people who you can spend three hours with, but not three days. Others you can spend three minutes with, but not three hours. Remember, the influence of associations is both powerful and subtle. You get a deposit of the dominant attitudes, actions and behaviors of the people you spend your time with.
Decide how much you can “afford” to be influenced, based on how those people represent themselves. This is difficult, I know. I have had to do this on several occasions, even with close friends. I will not, however, allow someone else’s actions or attitudes to have an indelible influence on me.
“If you want to fly with the eagles you can’t continue to scratch with the turkeys.” —Zig Ziglar
- 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 spend more time with those people. Join organizations, businesses and health clubs where these people are and make friends with them. Create a circle of excellence by purposefully selecting those with whom you will surround yourself.
Build your library of expanded associations.
Invest in Mentorship– Isn’t it interesting that the top performers in the world have the highest-paid coaches and trainers? Having people who push you to excel is critical, regardless of how successful you are. That’s why those at the top still invest heavily in their trainers and coaches. You can never pay too much for someone’s well-earned experience and guidance. They give you the advantage of the shortcuts they’ve discovered. Their road map identifies the landmines so you can avoid them. Their hard-earned wisdom can help you accelerate your growth.
You’re never too good for a mentor or coach. During an interview with Harvey Mackay, he said, “I’ve had 20 coaches, if you can believe it. And that’s not a typo. I have a speech coach, I have a writing coach, I have a humor coach, I’ve got a language coach, and on and on.” And he’s a top achiever, respected business leader and best-selling author!
Are you courageous enough to make the necessary changes to those around you?