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Guilty by association: it’s never too late to change!

My parents warned me and so I cautioned my own kids: with whom you associate can determine how you will be judged: good or bad.

Have you ever been told: “You’re a product of your environment!” Maybe it’s because you have your father’s sense of humor or your mother’s scholastic aptitude but you’ll always be a product of your environment. The way you’re brought up helps to define your personality and character. So with that said, your family, friends and associates have a strong influence that can shape future behaviours. So it goes without saying the community you’re involved in and surround yourself with plays a major role in cultivating your character. The values and beliefs you develop through home and work life, impact how you cope with matters every day.

Take time to observe your social circle; your friends. Are they people filled with optimism and committed to values that are aligned with yours? Do they approach each day with belief in themselves and an attitude of “let’s get it done”? Do they set goals and chase them? Or do they complain? Do they ask why they don’t have what the Jones’ have? (A sense of entitlement.) Are they negative and full of doubt when discussing issues? Take care to surround yourself with the former, rather than the latter. But remember that whether it’s work or home, you must ensure your environment and the people within in, contribute to success as defined by you. The great part is that you do have the ability to modify your environment, whether work or home.

A long time ago I was responsible for hiring cashiers and front-end staff for a major retailer. I was continually asked why all of our hires were so exceptionally welcoming and friendly. My simple response: we only employ good people and that starts with one. Over time, these people attract others of similar character. When people see an environment that’s positive, fun and upbeat, it’s very appealing. When people are in a positive work environment, they’re happier and more inspired to do their job better. But this all comes from seeing how a few bad hires can change the environment for the worse. I never really understood why leaders hang onto bad apples to the detriment of the rest of the company. It’s funny on the show, “The Office,” but not so much in the real world. But no doubt the desire is to hopefully influence and change them. Let me tell you, that is not your job! Each individual is responsible for taking the necessary steps and making the right choices to be an effective team player. At the end of the day, if they don’t step up, let them go.

Let’s find out if you’re surrounding yourself with people who lift you up or drag you down:

PART I

Step one: Draft three personal and professional goals for the year.

Step two: Share them with your circle of influence (family, friends & colleagues.)

Step three: Note the reaction.

If you’re encouraged with a supportive reception, you’re in a positive influence environment! Cool. However, if you’re confronted with negativity and discouragement (without explanation), you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people!

PART II

The Challenge: Ready for it?

Are you positive? That’s the test.

One full day of positive thought and behaviour.

That means for an entire day (24 hours) you must not allow any negative response to leave your lips. Here’s where that key rule comes in: if you don’t have anything good to say, shut up! It might sound easy to find a positive environment, but it’s not. This is a time to observe and become aware of everything that influences you: friends, family, colleagues, mission and community. Monitor how this social circle behaves. If you feel confident, optimistic and see positivity, it’s affirmation that you’re keeping good company. And if you’re noticing specks of pessimism and negativity, it’s time to reevaluate.

Certain individuals can bring out the best and worst in us. You must make the conscious choice to surround yourself with those who will compliment the energy you strive for. The power is in choice.

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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