As a parent, one important lesson I’ve learned is to pay VERY close attention to who your kids are hanging out with; their social circle can dictate everything from study habits to cocaine habits.
Peer pressure is often associated with doing bad things, but positive peer pressure is very real. I actually learned this before I even had kids. I grew up in a very middle-class suburb, but the high school I went to was pretty high achieving. Sure, we had a mix of students, but for the most part the question wasn’t “where are you going to college?” it was “what Ivy League schools are you applying to?”
Who we allow to influence us doesn’t stop when we graduate from high school. It doesn’t end when we accept our college diploma. Even after we’ve gotten married, maybe popped out a few kids, have found our niche in the professional world…who we hang out with can very much determine the person we are and who we’re going to evolve into – personally and professionally.
And that’s why we should always be cognizant of who those people are.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought because, at the age of 42, I’m getting more and more aware of who makes me feel good, capable, and ready to take on the world…and who makes me feel unmotivated, frustrated, and like I don’t want to do anything.
Raising three teenagers on my own and running my own business has also made me look at who I spend time with because my time is so precious.
So, why would I want to waste it doing things or being with people who don’t make me feel good?
That got me to thinking; what are the traits in other people that make me feel good? How can I emulate that? Who makes me feel like I’m at the top of my game and why?
What kind of peer pressure do I want?
And this is what I came up with.
Surround yourself with people who allow you to grow and who aren’t intimidated if you should surpass them in some way (and don’t get annoyed with them if they do the same).
Find people who love to explore and find new things that they can be passionate about. Whether it’s rock-climbing or thought-provoking podcasts, find people who you know you can call and will get you thinking about new things in different ways.
Find people who aren’t insecure about who they are and champion that trait in each other. Know that when you call that person to talk about a win, they’ll never take it as bragging – they’ll be glad you called to share and will be just as happy as you are. On a professional level, surround yourself with people you can’t wait to refer business to because you think so much of them. Collaborate as much as you can with those people, even if they're not in the same industry. Broaden. Fill. Be grateful.
It’s like that old saying “hire people who are smarter than you are.” Well, hang around them on a personal level, too. Look forward to being with and talking to people who know things that you don’t. Welcome insight from clients because even though you’re their expert…you don’t know everything. And that’s okay.
There are some people out there who are just stuck – or maybe they just like where they are and they don’t want to go anywhere. If you’re someone who likes keeping up a certain life momentum, distance yourself. It’s easy to get pulled down in the quicksand, too.
Probably the most important one of all. The older I get, the more I listen. I’ve learned more lately by staying quiet than I ever did talking someone’s ear off. In fact, I got to the point where if I left a conversation and I felt like my voice was tired, I realized I’d probably talked too much. Be aware of the balance of conversation. Yes, there will be times when someone has more to share, but for the most part it should be equal. Don’t think about yourself as you’re listening to the other person. Be empathetic. Be an equal partner in the dialogue.