This article was originally published by Brien Dunphy on LinkedIn.
“Which is more important,” asked Big Panda, “the journey or the destination?” “The company.” said Tiny Dragon.
Have you ever considered the impact the company you keep has on every area of your life? Whether you are working towards a promotion, hitting a sales target or simply striving for a healthier life, we are all working towards something, and we are doing it in a context with company. Often we look at a goal that we are failing to meet and we think it is impossible to achieve, or that there is something wrong within us that prevents us from making our dream a reality, but overlook a critical element… the company we keep.
Popular culture, self-help books and magazine headlines tell us it's all our fault. That if we just worked harder, if we just had more "hustle" we would meet our goals. Countless articles and books are written every year, pointing the blame squarely at us, telling us we don't have the willpower and determination to succeed.
If you find yourself habitually setting goals and not achieving them, or you find yourself falling into old patterns of behavior, consider the problem may not solely be you… but it very well may be who and what you surround yourself with. Instead of only looking inward to the actions you are taking (or not taking), also look outward to the distractions around you, the places you frequent and the company you keep.
Mindset is extremely important to achieving your goals, but you also need to look around at the environment you are working and living in. The environment that surrounds you greatly influences who you will become. And your environment and the company you keep go hand in hand. Jim Rohn famously said, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Who are you spending the most time with?
A person can show up one way in one environment and a different way in a different environment. What you choose to surround yourself with has a dramatic impact on your performance. I see this in my coaching practice regularly when a person makes changes to their environment (including the people they surround themselves with) genuine change happens.
If your environment isn't set up to help you succeed, you will not accomplish your goals. If you're trying to quit smoking, spending time with smokers isn't going to help you quit smoking! If you are trying to lose weight, keeping unhealthy food in the fridge isn't moving you towards your goal. I knew someone who attempted to beat an alcohol addiction while working as a bartender… the sad result was predictable. The same rule applies whether you are building a business, aiming for a sales target, or leading a team.
If you want to grow, surround yourself with people who are growing and who spur you towards growth. As Dan Sullivan said, "Surround yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past." Peer pressure is a powerful thing - use it to your benefit! Peer pressure can move you in the wrong direction or propel you forward in the right direction.
So how do you create an environment that helps you succeed? Instead of focusing solely on the destination (the what) invest time in planning the journey (the how). Make intentional decisions not only on the path forward but your environment and the company you keep as well.
Analyze your environment and ask yourself:
What around you is slowing you down? ...is causing you to stay stuck?
Who are the people, places, and things that invigorate and propel you forward?
Who are the people, places, and things that distract you from what is most important?
Does your work environment help you thrive or only survive?
It may seem easier to stay where you are and not make hard decisions. But consider the difference between what is easier and what is best. Think long-term and ask yourself the hard question, "What needs to change to bring out my best self?"
You have the power to change your environment… Who you become depends on it.