Personal Development Perspective

Choose Your Circle of Influence

Think of the first 20 people who come to mind in your life. These are probably your family, close friends, and co-workers. These folks make up your circle of influence: the people who have the most sway on your life and circumstances.

Your circle of influence will either be a means of helping you achieve success or an obstacle holding you back from it. It’s up to you to determine which it will be.

Entrepreneurs don’t usually rely on willpower alone to be successful. If that were always true, your results would be equal to your effort all the time. Willpower by itself is the ignition to your engine, but it doesn’t determine what the road will be like on your way to success. It can’t take you to the finish line itself.

This is why diets often fail. This is why reading personal development books don’t instantaneously make you a better person for life. Because you can’t will yourself to success.

Willpower can only bring you as far as when you’re being persistent and really focusing on your work. And, really, how many hours a day can you truly “dial in,” completely control your thoughts and block out mental obstacles? Maybe a few. But definitely not the whole day. It’s impossible to be disciplined 24/7.

And here’s the good news: you don’t have to be that disciplined to be successful.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a break where you can let up on your willpower and not immediately lose ground? Of course it would be – and that’s where your circle of influence comes in.

How do you set yourself up for success where it becomes less about your own efforts? You do what you can to surround yourself with the right external forces that keep you going even when your internal ones aren’t driving you to go on as strongly. And one of those that you can control is your circle of influence.

What if every time you took your eyes or hand off the wheel when driving, your car would screech to a halt? That doesn’t happen. You have cruise control to keep you going with less effort needed on your part. And that’s what a good circle of influence can do for us in life.

Our results in life are identical to the average results of our circle of influence. We have to recognize that circumstances dictate some of our results – good and bad. And your circumstances includes your circle of influence. It either works for you or against you 24 hours a day.

If you want to see what effect your circle of influence is having on your life right now, try this exercise.

Write down those 20 people who come to mind. These are the people you interact with the most. You can also put down people you admire or have an influence on you in terms of being where you want to be. When you write down your 20 people, divide them into groups A and B. Group A inspires you and add value to your life. Group B is generally negative and gives you the feeling of taking away from your life.

For each person in group A, write their positive influence on your life as a number on a scale of 1 to 10; the higher the number, the more positive of an effect they have on you. In Group B, write those on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of their influence on you in a negative way; the higher this number, the more negative of an effect they have on you. (You’ll notice when you do this that the closer they are to you, the more influence they have on you, for better or worse.)

Once you’ve done this, add up the number in group A and B. Anything above a 50 would be above average for group A; if you have below 50, you might not be hanging around with the right people. For group B, you’ll want this to be less than 50.

Now compare these numbers. If group A’s number is bigger, your circle of influence has a positive effect on your life; if group B’s number is bigger, it’s affecting you negatively. If they are about equal, they cancel each other out, and you’re just treading water in your relationships and maintaining a status quo. From this exercise you’ll see who has influence over you, and you should recognize that they only have that influence if you give them the power to.

Realize that you can add more positive influences that increase the positive score group A can provide for you while taking away from the negative influence of group B. What this will do is allow the circumstances that affect your life to have a more powerful positive effect on it, without you having to actively work for it or will it to happen.

Choose your influences carefully and don’t put yourself in a position where people are taking from you. Put yourself in the position where you’re surrounded by people who add value to your life, and you’ll find that you’ll get three parts results for one part of effort in life.

It’s like swimming downstream – no matter what you’re doing, the current is carrying you along to where you want to go. That’s the support mechanism that can be in place for you if you create the right circle of influence around you.

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