In addition to the two primary motivators of human behavior, expectation of reward and fear of punishment, social acceptance would have to rank as one of the most important desires of the human condition. We are gregarious creatures by nature and social interaction serves many of our basic emotional needs.
We may be somewhat limited in our professional capacity to pick and choose with whom we interact, but in our personal lives we have absolute control of our associations. Once you make the decision to adopt an optimistic mindset in support of your goal to achieve success, the people who you choose to allow access to your thoughts and emotions becomes very important.
In short, people you associate with on a personal level have the ability to directly impact your probability of success.
Understanding this fact imposes upon you the responsibility of picking your acquaintances wisely. Only those who respect your self-esteem, encourage you to be successful and enhance your quality of life should be allowed within the protected inner circle of your personal space.
Conduct a quick mental inventory of those people you currently associate with regularly, both in person and online. After 30 minutes of conversation do you feel energized and uplifted, or do you feel drained and agitated?
Those who fall into the latter category are toxic personalities – I refer to them as “psychic vampires” – and serve no useful purpose in your life. Regardless of the marginal benefit they provide to you as a “friend,” their infectious negativity demands that they be purged from your social circle as soon as possible.
Actually, upgrade that timeline to “immediately.”
If that sounds harsh and judgmental on my part, consider what hangs in the balance on the other side of that equation: your success. Now that you’ve committed to a life-changing endeavor in pursuit of achieving your goals and dreams, do you really see the need to be surrounded by pessimists – spewing the negative message of their twisted fatalistic vision – who are going to undermine your optimism at every opportunity?
That makes as much sense as putting a drug addict in charge of a chain of pharmacies with the expectation that their personal behavior won’t interfere with their business decisions.
In the words of the Greek philosopher Plato, “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and cause you to wilt and die.” You’ve made the decision to rise to the level of exceptional; it’s time to upgrade your expectations for those you call acquaintances.
I’m not suggesting you need to find perfect friends; there’s no such thing. Nor am I suggesting you need to have friends that share your particular vision, and agree with everything you believe. What I am suggesting is those who actively oppose you at every turn need to be removed.
Once you have made the decision to surgically remove the cancerous personalities from your circle, employ the 5 strategies below to reconstruct your network with positive people who support you.
1. Project your unbridled optimism. You’ve heard the sayings: “like attracts like” and “water seeks its own level.” They’re true. When you outwardly project optimism, like-minded positive people are attracted to you like a moth to a flame. As a bonus, pessimists hate optimists and they’ll avoid you like the plague.
2. Create a litmus test. Set a standard for those people you will befriend. Are they emotionally grounded and optimistic? Are they goal-oriented and committed to personal and professional growth? Are they there for you when you need them? This isn’t being judgmental; it’s demonstrating discernment.
3. Join local professional groups. Find local organizations with members who share your professional interests, even if they only meet once a month. There’s a good chance if they took the time to get off the computer and out of the house, they’ll be the type of people with whom you’ll want to interact.
4. Utilize online focus groups. Social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook can give you immediate access to unlimited numbers of people who share your goals. Utilize the genius of market segmentation and maximize the utility of social media.
5. Incorporate “Peer Review." Once you develop a support network of positive thinkers, a pessimist might sneak through the fence once in a while. If your group feels uncomfortable with a new arrival, trust their judgment enough to investigate and act accordingly if they prove to be correct.
The choice to surround yourself with optimistic people who share your positive vision is a conscious act. These will be the people who never doubt your abilities, encourage your success and will be there for you when it matters most.
Misery loves company, but so does success.