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Surrounding Ourselves Wisely

Posted by: Pulse Young Professionals on Friday, April 24, 2015
Do you know Debbie Downer, the character from the mid-2000 SNL skits? (If not, a session with is calling your name.) If you are familiar with her, then you know that the skits are hilarious and timeless because they are remarkably relatable. We all know that person who relishes being the dark cloud that rains on people's parade, the one always seeking to squelch others’ aspirations. Why do they do this? Perhaps because seeing others’ ambitions reminds them of their own abandoned dreams. On the flip side – thank goodness – we also all know that person who brings others up. Rather than focusing on what's wrong, this person encourages our advancement and stimulates a sense of opportunity and capability within us. Often, these people are leaders: people who see us not as we are, but as who we can become. While Debbie Downer and her encouraging counterpart are extreme examples, they represent two ends of the spectrum of people we surround ourselves with. Business philosopher Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. He also pointed out the understated impact of our associations by saying that we will rarely allow someone to knock us off course, but we might be susceptible to someone softly nudging us off course. Some of the people we associate with each day may have a neutral impact on us, but others – even if subtly – are influencing us towards either a life of significance or a life of lack. What, then, should we do? I think we could all benefit by embracing some or all of these options. I’ve seen these avenues lead to success:
  • Go to work at a company where excellence, ambition, and personal development are the norm.
  • Become active in organizations that promote "possibility thinking" and cultivate leaders.
  • Ask "Who are the people I spend the most time with and what type of person are they spurring me to become?"
  • Revamp your social media feeds by muting voices of idle chatter in exchange for inspirational voices of value.
  • Seek out a mentor as an experienced guide.
  • Surround yourself with a core group of achievers who sharpen one another.
While working to improve your circle of influences, I'd also invite you to ask yourself: "Where would my actions and attitudes place me on the spectrum when I am the one influencing others? Do I discourage dreams or do I embolden them? Am I seen as a downer or as an encourager?" Albert Einstein once said, "The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts." So, let's dream big and be people that make others better, both by choosing our friends and associations intentionally and by choosing our actions and attitudes wisely. About the Author: Brian Knox is a Customer Service Coach at Corley Plumbing, Air, Electric. He’s passionate about this role as it involves training and encouraging colleagues to be good servants who seek to improve life for others. When he’s not working, Brian enjoys life with his wife, Jen, and their two young daughters. Brian joined PULSE’s Connects committee in January and – in addition to volunteer work – likes bicycling, reading, photography, and podcasts. More of Brian’s thoughts on sales, success, and significance can be found on his personal blog at


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