The company you keep matters. When you're surrounded by smokers, you're more likely to be a smoker. When your friends are successful at work, you're more likely to be successful at work.
The people we're surrounded by have much more power than we realise - not always because we consciously emulate them, but because we absorb invisible social norms and expectations that have a strong impact on our psyche and decision-making.
When I joined Thought Leaders Business School in 2018, I felt the power of this pull almost immediately. I went from a background where writing a book felt like a "one day" aspirational goal, to a community where that was expected and normalised. Three years later, I've got two published books to my name. Crikey.
When you're surrounded by negative, small-minded people, it can suck you dry before you realise it. That's fairly easy to deal with in a friend group, where we have control over who we talk to. It can be hard at work, when we're surrounded by people that bring us down.
How do your people make you feel?
Reflect on how you feel when you leave meetings, coffee dates and conferences. Inspired? Energised? Flat? Dejected? Frustrated? Take note of who has what effect on you, and try to be conscious of that throughout the day.
Who do you need more of?
Wo do you need more of in your life? More grounding? More role modelling? More families? More go-getters? Write them down and start to think about how you can consciously make that happen.
Who do you want to be?
When you know who you want to be, and you're clear on your values, you have a higher chance of cultivating a network that supports that. Take some time to think about what you value, and what you're aiming to achieve in your life. Maybe that's in your community, or your personal life. Maybe it's at work. When you know what you're looking for, it's easier to find it.
It's hard making friends as an adult. I hate it. There's less time, it's more awkward, and it takes effort. Ironically, this is the time in your life when you're best-placed to make good decisions about who to spend time with, rather than falling into a default group from high school or an old workplace.
One of the most exciting things about Not An MBA is the calibre of people we've got on board. We've been really intentional about who this is a good fit for - and it's not everyone. It's for a particular breed of ambitious, frustrated learners who want to do something big, and aren't always surrounded by people who feel the same way.
Being intentional and proactive about who we're looking for has paid off - and it can for you too.
Who should you be surrounding yourself with, and where can you find them?