Imagine you spent the next several years of your life devoted to one goal and realize great achievements, only to be pulled back down by the people around you and end up back where you started?
I’ve seen it happen. Associations are one of the most significant factors to our success, and if you don’t prioritize this now, it can and likely will eventually hurt you down the road. That is, assuming you don’t already have stellar associations, like 99% of us.
3 Steps to Maximize the Power and Influence of Associations
Association with other people corrupts our character; especially when we have none.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
You are the sum of the five people you hang around with.
You’ve probably heard that before. In fact, if you’ve been info self-improvement for a while, you’ve probably heard it a million times. The only problem with this is it never comes with the associated advice for how to actually use the knowledge to our advantage. And it can be really difficult to figure out how to improve our associations.
On the surface, it looks like a monumental amount of work. Who do you stop hanging around with? What if they’re family? Where do you get new associations if the ones you have aren’t great? There’s no doubt improving your associations can have a positive effect on your life in several ways, but how exactly to go about doing that is another thing altogether.
Let’s talk about three ways to do just that.
1. Consider the qualities you’d like to encourage
First, let’s talk about something. The practice of improving your associations will be a long-term, patience-demanding process. It’s not the kind of thing that will change overnight. It’s just not and it never will be.
However, on a positive note it’s also not supposed to be the kind of thing you put continual effort into either. This is more the kind of thing you let unfold on its own. However, to think that this means you have no control over the process and should put no effort into it would be a great mistake.
You have the majority of the control over how your associations shift (if at all). But to do that, you need to set yourself up so that you have clarity and the information necessary to decide how your associations need to change in the first place.
To do that, first, let’s get a framework. Start by brainstorming all the various qualities which you deem as important. This can be confidence, intelligence, wisdom, persistence, boldness, creativity, caring, compassion, etc. Whatever those ideal qualities are to you, take some time to brainstorm and write them down.
2. Think about people you admire and which epitomize those qualities you want to develop
Next, think about specific people whom you admire and who epitomize these various qualities. This can be someone you know (ideally), but more often than not they’re going to be living and nonliving notable figures. These can even be fictional characters. To give you an example, two of my own are Bruce Lee and Bruce Wayne (I like Bruces, what can I say?).
Continue to add to your list by then dropping those individual qualities into each of the people you listed. Really take the time to think about the kind of person you want to be here. This will help give you clarity about the kinds of people you want to attract.
3. Take an assessment
Third, once you have a crystal clear idea of the kinds of people you believe you should be surrounding yourself with, take an assessment. That’s right, take a look around you and rate the people closest to you based on those people and the qualities you listed from the first two points.
Don’t expect a perfect match. You aren’t likely to mention negative traits when you do points one and two, however, all of us have our faults so the people in your life aren’t likely to match up perfectly with these “archetypes” you’ve created. However, it will really help to get a very clear picture of the quality of your associations and what needs to change.
Once this is done, the fourth and final step is simply to take action. At this point you should know exactly what needs to be done. You know who is a positive association, you know what the ideal positive association looks like (and who you’d like to attract), and can start making this a reality.
Taking action won’t be easy, but the number one thing to remember about associations is that by first setting out to surround yourself with additional positive associations, negative ones are inevitably weeded out because they won’t be able to maintain their presence.
We surround ourselves with certain people because they match the view we have for ourselves in our mind. When we set new goals, stretch beyond ourselves, and meet new people to match that the old negative associations have nothing they can do but grow or move on. For that reason, don’t both trying to get rid of negative associations unless you have a clear path to doing so (like moving out or something else that might be reasonable), just focus on building up the new positive ones over time.
The effort to change your associations for the better while you’re working hard on achieving your goals and moving forward isn’t easy, but it’s necessary and so worth it. Be smart about how you work to change your associations and you’ll be able to maximize the power and influence of them in your life to move you forward faster and more effortlessly.