What influences you?

You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you towards your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you towards success – or are they holding you back? W. Clement Stone

Our lives are shaped and influenced by the environment we choose for ourselves. Some of the factors that make up our environment are totally out of our control. Like the family we are born into. Or the parents we have. The neighbours. But beyond that I believe every other influence is a choice we make. And that choice shapes our personalities and the careers we have.

Most people believe they have very little control over these things. I believe otherwise. For eg. The school you go to is something that may not be in your control. But who you befriend at school is a choice you make.

How do we create a positive environment for ourselves?

Be conscious of your environment – As a starting point, be completely aware of the environment you create for yourself. This is the first and most important step towards influencing yourself positively.

Who do you hang out with? This is the make or break factor. We tend to become the sum average of 5 people that we associate with the most. When I am with friends whose approach towards work is causal, my drive to produce good work tends to blunt. On the other side, when I meet friends who are in the pursuit of excellence, it inspires me as well.

What are you reading? Books have been one of my biggest influencers. Irrespective of what our surroundings are, we have the choice to expose ourselves to the right books. What you read is who you are. I would read autobiographies of entrepreneurs and businessmen ever since I was young which shaped my thoughts on business and life. When I went through a rough phase in business, my thoughts went back to how so many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs bounced back from worse situations. Hence read positively.

What are you watching and surfing? We are lucky to live in an age of unlimited access to information. The Internet has the world information at your finger tips. Are we using that resource well? One of my big influences of the Internet has been TED.com. In the comfort of a bedroom I have access to the world’s thought leaders talking passionately about a subject and broadening your mind with brilliant concepts.

Seek varied experiences – There are so many conferences, seminars, talks, etc. that happen in your city. These are great forums to meet interesting, like minded people and also to get exposed to great ideas and get inspired.

In each of the elements above, ensure that you bring in some diversity. Read something light to break the monotony of Business Biographies. Meet different people (who may be totally unlike you). The sheer exposure to different kinds of people will help immensely in your understanding of human dynamics.

To excel in life, to be able to work with optimum use of our potential, it’s important that we create an inspiring and a high learning environment for ourselves every day. It is not something that can be done just once in a while. So work towards it every day, starting today.

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