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zone_of_influenceHave you ever noticed how hard it is to accomplish amazing things when you’re completely alone?Then you have no doubt also noticed that it’s much easier to accomplish significant things when you are in the company of people who routinely accomplish significant things.Even if they’re not directly helping you – observing and associating with people who excel tends to stoke your fire and push you forward.It’s no great epiphany that I just came up with yesterday. Many public figures have told us over and over again that the company we keep and the books we read tend to shape our lives.

The Most Powerful Principles Are Universally True

It’s a funny thing about life’s truths: The truer they are, the more universally they can be applied.Take the concepts of The Golden Rule and Karma for instance. When you boil them down to their most basic – they both teach us (from different angles) that in life, you get what you give. That what you put out there will come back to you for better or for worse.“You get what you put out there” is universally true in all facets of life – from relationships to business to sports to academics. It’s simple, powerful, and true.But back to who and what we associate with…

Why Association Is So Powerful

The people you associate with, the books you read, and all the things you let into your brain on a regular basis shape who you are and what you do. The things you absorb consistently are the things you become. It’s not magic… it’s influence.Positive or negative, frequent, similar messages or actions make conscious and subconscious impressions on us – influencing who we are and what we do.

The Zone of Influence

Over the years, I’ve noticed that there’s also a direct correlation between how close you are to a positive influence and how much benefit you receive from that association.With people, that means regular interaction. With books, that means frequent consumption of the same type of information. You get the idea.

Frank’s Lawn Proves It

I’ve recently resolved to be more physically active and be better about what I eat. One element of my new resolution is to walk/jog 500 miles between now and August 8 of this year. The math on that works out to about six miles per day.It’s been good for me. I look forward to it, I’m feeling better, and it provides a lot of time for me to think and listen to my favorite podcasts.Four blocks away from my house, there is a home on a corner lot. It’s Frank’s house.Frank has a lawn that belongs in a magazine. I mean it’s two steps above perfect. It’s thick, lush, and always meticulously trimmed. Even if you’re not a “yard person” it would drop your jaw to the floor. It’s just stunning.I’ve driven by Frank’s yard a thousand times over the years, but the other day I walked up his street on my way home. The longer view I got courtesy of being on foot allowed me to noticed something fascinating I would have never seen speeding past in my car.On Frank’s side of his block, beginning at his place and then working away from his house, the yards could accurately be described as…1. Perfection (Frank’s)2. Way above average3. Very nice4. Very nice5. Above average6. Average7. Average8. Below averageAfter that, the yard quality lost its “best to worst” pattern and became pretty random. After noticing the pattern, I turned around and walked back toward Frank’s house – this time paying attention to the houses on the other side of the block.Guess what I saw. A similar pattern existed starting from Frank’s house (best to worst) – except that the quality on the other side of the street was lower. Instead of starting with “way above average”, the yards were “very nice” to “above average” and continued downward with regard to quality.It’s interesting to note that if you stood in the street and looked around, it’s easy to see that there was a clear zone of influence around Frank’s perfect yard… and it boiled down to the fact that the neighbors who could easily see his yard had nice yards of their own. He was a good influence.As unscientific as that is, it’s pretty obvious that something significant is going on and that it has to do with proximity and influence.So why do we care about Frank’s yard?Because it’s an example of how powerful the zone of influence really is.

Where’s your Zone?

The real purpose of this post is to get you to evaluate who and what you let into your zone of influence.Ask yourself…

  • Who do you regularly associate with and what kind of messaging do you receive from those people?
  • What do you watch, read, and listen to regularly – and what kind of messaging are you receiving from that?
  • Whose zone of influence are you a part of – and what kind of influence are your words and actions teaching them?

Your turn to share.How have the people and messages you regularly receive influenced your life – for better or for worse? Let’s talk about it in the comments. 

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