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How does your environment influence your personality? What can you do to restructure your environment for success?
Your environment—the people you surround yourself with, the clothes you wear, the neighborhood you live in, and the food you eat—shapes you into the person you are. If you want to become more successful, the first thing you need to do is to change your environment on all three planes: physical, social, and internal.
Here is how you can recondition yourself for success by changing your environment.
The Power of Environment
We’ve all heard the old expression, “you are what you eat.” This means that our well-being is tied directly to the food we use to fuel our bodies.
The author proposes that your mind is also a product of what it is fed, and what feeds your mind is your environment. The size of your thinking, your attitude, and your goals all are the products of your environment, particularly the people around you. If you are surrounded by petty, negative people, you will likely pick up the habits of negative, petty thinking. If you are surrounded by positive, ambitious people, you will begin to reflect those traits, as well.
Therefore, if you want to change yourself and your life for the better, you need to change your environment—not just your immediate physical environment, but also your social as well as the internal environment of your mind.
Recondition Yourself for Success
The biggest obstacle to success is thinking you’re just not cut out for any major accomplishment. “Big things are just not in the cards for me.” Too many adults are conditioned toward this sense of mediocrity.
Children don’t dream of someday getting by in a dead-end job. Kids set high goals and fully expect to do exciting, important things. But as they grow up and gain responsibilities, these free-thinking children often become short-sighted adults. They’ve likely been bombarded with the advice of others to “quit dreaming,” and “be practical.” They’re told they’ll never get ahead because they don’t have the luck/money/connections/character traits.
Some people surrender completely to this input. They settle for a job they don’t love and rationalize themselves into a rut from which there’s little chance of escaping.
Others surrender partially at first, holding out hope that someday big things will happen. As time goes by, however, this group loses their fight and decides that greater success isn’t worth the effort.
The third group never surrenders to the “you’ll never accomplish anything big” line of thinking. What’s different about this group? Big thinkers refuse to listen to suppressive talk and advice and instead think about success and drive toward success. They simply don’t listen to anyone who says their goals can’t be accomplished. They’ve developed a defense against the negative opinions of other people, seeing negativity only as an opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong.
Even if you’re not in the third group now, you can get there. You are fully capable of reconditioning yourself for success. (Much of this book is about doing this). It takes a shift in attitude and a deep-seated belief in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. You have to condition yourself to ignore the poisonous opinions of others, which can be aided by managing your social environment, which we’ll discuss next.
Manage Your Social Environment
There are several aspects to managing your social environment and creating positive surroundings that will nurture success:
- Stay away from “negators.”
- Stay away from people who gossip and backstab.
- Seek advice only from “first-class” people.
- Get some “psychological sunshine.”
Stay Away from “Negators”
“Negators” are the negative people around you who keep telling you it can’t be done. Sometimes these are well-meaning individuals who have been beaten down by life and have good intentions; other times they’re jealous people stuck in a rut who want to trip you and keep you down with them. .
Stay away from all negators. They drag down your thinking, and they introduce seeds of doubt that fuel Mr. Defeat (recall him from Chapter 1).
A few examples of getting away from negators:
- The author had a college friend who was very smart, but who was convinced the only paths to success included marrying someone rich or knowing the “right” person and getting in on a “good deal.” The author realized that listening to this friend was like “listening to the voice of failure.” He stopped absorbing the negativity and instead began studying the friend objectively, from a distance.
- An employee carpooled to work everyday with an incessant complainer, who was bitter about every aspect of the job. The employee found herself arriving at work each day in a negative, depressed state. She realized what was happening and switched carpools, changing her morning environment to be surrounded by positive, uplifting people who liked their jobs and were optimistic about their futures. She instantly felt an improvement in her mood.
Stay Away From Gossip
Gossipis like food poisoning. If a restaurant causes just a few cases of food poisoning, word will get out, and people will stay well away.
Similarly, gossip is “thought poisoning.” successful, positive people will start viewing you as “poison.” gives off an unlikable and unreliable air that will repel the very people you want to attract on your journey to success.
Taking an axe toyour neighbor’s furniture doesn’t make your furniture any nicer. So chopping down your neighbor with the verbal axe of gossip doesn’t make you look any better — it only destroys your character. speaking about others with positivity presents a first-class view of you as a quality, positive individual.
Seek Advice Only From First-Class People
Be very careful about where you’re getting your advice. Getting “first-class” advice means seeking the counsel of a knowledgeable and positive source, not someone ready to spewreasons why something can’t be done.
Say you’re starting a new job and someone who’s been there a long time takes you under his wing. lay lowor you’ll get bombarded with work. Clearly, if you want to be noticed and succeed in this company, this is terrible advice and this is someone you’d want to get away from fast.
Instead, seek the advice of someone who is already successful in your area of interest. Successful people tend to be open and to help others on their path. Get advice about the new company from a successful executive who is enthusiastic and energetic. et advice for your upcoming triathlon from someone who has successfully completed a similar race, not someone on the couch telling you it’s impossible.
Get Some Psychological Sunshine
Does it include boredom, , a hangover? Or does it include a home-improvement project, quality time with your kids, a hike with your spouse? a poor diet The second
A few to pepper your life with psychological sunshine
- Find new social groups. Hanging out with only the same handful of people keeps your world closed. Meeting and spending time with new people your overall understanding of people.
- Seek out friends with different viewpoints than yours. nderstanding people of different cultural backgrounds, religious faiths and political views helps you become someone who can see both sides of a situation.
- Find friends who are above petty, unimportant concerns. If your friends are the size of their house and the types of cars they drive, it’s easy for you to sink into valuing these types of things. are genuinely rooting for your success
Managing Your Physical Environment (Going First Class)
o an overall “first class” environment, manage your physical environment. In Chapter 6, discussed how “looking important” and taking care of your appearance was a critical element in “thinking big.” The idea of going first class with your physical environment takes it further to include going first class in every aspect of your environment, not just your clothing and appearance.
, we often take shortcuts. We eat at the cheap restaurant or buy the off-brand clothing. We hire an inexpensive accountant or take our car to a mechanic that promises a bargain. But these cost-saving measures . The dubious accountant might land us in an IRS audit, while the shady mechanic might damage car, risking safety and costing more in the long run.
In fact, taking the quality, first-class route often doesn’t cost much more than the cheap route. In returnyou get quality goods and services that , while improving the way you are seen by others.
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