Three Circles That Can Change Your Life
Maybe Mom Was On To Something
Do you remember growing up and you had a group of friends that you always surrounded yourself with? I remember in High School there was 5 of us that spent almost everyday together. Andrew, Milton, Ricardo, David, and myself. We skipped school together, chased girls, played basketball, etc you get the point. We spent a majority of my high school years around each other like a band of thieves. It was rare to spend a day without seeing or being around one, if not all of them. It's funny to look back at that now, who I chose to have in my life. This is an option that we have from the moment we are somewhat independent until we are on our last breath, who we choose to allow into our life. Now I'm not talking about crazy cousin Billy that you see at family functions or that rude intern who just won't stop asking you questions but actual people you chose to surround yourself with. Friends, or as I will now refer to as influencers.
So, what is an influencer.. it is a person or group that has the ability to influence the behaviour or opinions of others: The influencer is the individual whose effect on your decision is in some way significant or authoritative.
What that means is, the people you surround yourself with feed into the choices you make. You probably don't even realize it but it happens every day, that night out on Wednesday when you have to be to work at 8:00 a.m., the sparring partner at the gym who calls you an hour before you are supposed to be there to make sure you are coming, the negative co worker who just has nothing nice to say about anything, ever. These are all individuals you are choosing to surround yourself with that make an impact on your day and on a grander scale on the choices you make.
Birds of a Feather
So you are probably thinking to yourself "What does that have to do with my mother?". Have you ever heard the saying "Birds of a feather flock together"? It was a simple sentence that made my mother sound crazy as she talked about animals in reference to my friends. It didn't make much sense to me then but it's one of the things I live by now.
We are the average sum of the people we choose to surround ourselves with. Let's jump back to my high school group. Milton was a lazy guy, nice kid but simply didn't have the focus to apply himself to much. Andrew was a ladies man, he very rarely made it to class unless it somehow had something to do with the opposite sex. Ricardo was the common criminal, always in trouble was already on probation by the age of 15 and it didn't slow him down one bit. David was the quieter of the group, got good grades, wanted to be a professional BMX rider and was always upbeat. Then myself, socially awkward and really lacked a direction for what i wanted out of life. I didn't really know I was supposed to choose a direction let alone how.
When you take all of these personalities and mix them together you have some positive features but it didn't really hold me to the highest standards to challenge myself. With that I kept my goals low, never pushed very hard for academic excellence and barely made it out of high school. This doesn't fall on my friends, it isn't their life to be responsible for but by me choosing an average group to surround myself with I made the choice to not want to do better. I chose to stay below the grade and continue to skirt by, to fit in with my friends regardless of the negative impacts it had in my life.
Encouragement Can Be For Good And Evil
After graduating High School at 17 I had the summer to really think about my life. All of my friends were still in school due to poor grades or lack of attendance, my home life was shaky at best, and I was defeated. I didn't know what I wanted or even who I was for that matter. At that age I did what everyone did, chose college because that is the social norm. If you read my previous article, http://hubpages.com/health/How-to-become-part-of-the-1 you would know that I chose to not be a unicon that summer. In fact, I continued down the path of settling and inevitably self destruction.
I chose a community college for school, easy to get into and close to where I lived. I chose Liberal Arts as a major, a very general field and even to this day i'm not really sure what you can do with that degree. Come September I started attending classes and tried to continue to hang out with my friends and demonstrate the same behavior. For those of you who have attended college you know very well that it is a completely different ballgame and within my first semester I had a very real reality check.
At home I was just never there and with my poor attitude towards pretty much everything my mother really was left with only one option, she asked me to move out. I say ask, but I am not sure how that would have gone had I chose to not comply.
With my friends we continued as a group to make poor choices, running into the law, not applying ourselves, and strolling down the path that leads to a dark and scary future. I ended up in some pretty significant trouble that year. I was arrested. I made a choice to take actions and for the first time in a very long time I was being held accountable. I spent 2 weeks in jail and had nothing but time to think about what I had done, why I was there, and what was about to take place. My mother opted to not bail me out and simply said, this is what you get. I look back at it now and she was right. At times we choose not to see what the sum of our actions amount to or fail to amount to. 2 of my friends ended up in significant trouble as well that year. Ricardo went to prison, Milton spent a small amount of time in jail as well, the rest were constantly running into issues with law enforcement simply because we were choosing to not apply ourselves to positive activities that would benefit ourselves.
With school, I skipped one class regularly and eventually was failed for it. Almost lost my financial aid had to pay back the balance for that one class and was placed on academic probation. For the first time in my life I stopped and asked myself "what am I doing?"
Where are they now
Outside of Facebook, do you still talk to your friends from high school?
Closing The Gap
I remember watching an interview with Snoop Dogg and he spoke about closing the gap to A$AP Rocky. He spoke about his life, how he grew up and the choices he needed to make as he became successful. As we continue to grow we lose people, we grow and change simply because they choose to not better themselves. To sacrifice your future success to remain in the same social circle is a self sabotage method that results in a stagnant lifestyle.
After my first semester in college I came to the realization that things needed to change. I needed to focus on school, figure out where I wanted to go in life, force myself to develop new friends and to accept that level of uncomfortableness from the unknown and to choose to grow. I needed to leave the friends I spent years with behind because they just didn't fit into the direction I wanted to go.
I changed my major to Psychology attended all of my classes picked up a regular job and started associating myself with people from the school instead. The only thing that saved me from legal matters being worse than they were was because I had a job and was going to school full time. The judge chose not to give me jail time and I was given probation. Because of my age my record was under Youthful Offender status which means as long as I didn't reoffend it would be sealed like it never happened. I caught a huge break and it was one of the most abrupt reality checks I have ever experienced.
Snoop and A$AP Rocky
Circle of Influencers
A Circle of Influence encompasses those concerns that we can do something about. They are concerns that we have some control over. Adapted from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Simon & Schuster 1992. This technique is good for separating out lower from higher priorities, and gaining ownership for action. Building on this we can take the same theory and use it for how we choose to layer our relationships. The 5 people you choose to have around you are a great influence to the life you live. These individuals saturate your day to day life and can either push you or hold you back from achieving your goals.
When you look at your group of friends everyone is typically on the same level in regards to work, finances, and quality of life. It lacks the challenges for you to want more because you have simply become comfortable with what you know. I knew all of my friends in high school, i knew their personalities, what to expect from them, what they expected of me, and it was all predictable how our lives went. By choosing to accept the level of unknown and venture into the awkwardness of being around individuals who wanted more in life it pulled me up to a different level. I in turn wanted more, I wanted to brag about my passing grades, or that I was working, or discuss goals for the future. It was new for me and uncomfortable at first but then like a new pair of shoes you break it in. By choosing to continue to bring in positive influencers into your life that can offer guidance and serve as a mentor you are allowing yourself an unlimited potential to be legendary.
Wait, So I Need All New Friends?
Using the same theory above there is a second circle called the circle of concern, a Circle of Concern encompasses the wide range of concerns we have, such as our health, our children, problems at work, the amount of government borrowing, or the threat of war. In this circle I place people like myself, those seeking guidance, those who need a mentor, those who want more from life. These individuals are those I am concerned for, by choice of course and who have the want to have more in life. Just like those individuals we look to to guide us and help us out we also need to continue the process and be willing to do the same for others. With my circle I work with programs offering under serviced communities job training and placement assistance to better their quality of life, I do business consulting for small and medium size businesses that just need a guide as they are growing, and I also mentor individuals on setting goals and improving their quality of life.
I utilize resources that I have as well as those that mentor me to help everyone in both of my circles. Regardless of where you are in life I have found that someone has more experience and is smarter than you. These are the people I aim to be around because they challenge me. You will also find brilliant people with so much potential that just need the right opportunity and a positive hand to bring out their full potential, these are who I choose to surround myself with.
But What Happened to Milton?
I saw Milton not too long ago, hes living with his parents working an entry level position of minimum wage and was on his way to buy a tape recorder to assist in his career of becoming an aspiring rapper. Ricardo ended up committing several felonies and frequents the corrections system regularly. Andrew also is still living at home, at this point unemployed and not so much of a ladies man anymore. And David.. well he actually went semi pro with his dream.
For all of those individuals who cannot bring a positive value to your life, they end up in the third circle which is outside of your control. Look at your social dynamic like a camp, let's say during the zombie apocalypse. IF someone is part of the undead, you can't change who they are or what they think. You aren't able to help them because they can't help themselves. Those who are "infected" are already on a path to a zombie lifestyle and there is nothing you can do to change this. This may sound harsh but you can't let them into the camp. Your number 1 priority to to ensure the safety of your camp and those inside of it and by allowing an "infected" in you are not only dooming yourself but potentially everyone around you will become infected by the lack of drive and negativity.
I can't be 100% sure where I would be in my life if I didn't make a conscious decision to change the direction I was heading. I know that without the help of new friends, supportive professors, an "Aunt" who constantly reminded me that this wasn't the life for me and pushed me to do better I feel pretty confident that I wouldn't be in a much better place then the rest of my high school chums. To Grow I needed to be challenged, I needed to see what else was available, I needed positive reinforcement, I needed to believe that I be more than I was, most importantly I needed to be able to be strong enough to not give up when things got hard. To not quit if I failed at a task. To not walk away because it didn't pan out exactly how I wanted it to. Use your resources, ask for help, guidance, advice, pull from within and become Legendary.