You have heard it before. If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people. This often repeated statement happens to be true, which is why it is often repeated. There is sound observational science to back up this claim. Whatever it may be successful people possess, it rubs off on those around them.
Dr. Albert Bandura, a preeminent psychologist, developed a social behavioral theory called Social Cognitive Theory (SCT). Briefly and in summary, the theory posits:
- an individuals acquisition of knowledge is directly related to observing others
- human survival depends on the emulation of the successful actions of others
- people do not learn behaviors just by trying them and either succeeding or failing
- when people observe a behavior and all of the attendant consequences, they will remember the sequence of events of the behavior and use the information in their own behaviors afterwards
- observing a behavior can prompt an individual to engage in behavior they have already learned
- depending on whether people are rewarded or punished for the behavior and the final outcome of the behavior, people will choose whether or not to replicate the behavior.
There you have it. We are influenced by the behaviors of the people with whom we associate. If we surround ourselves with positive, strong, motivated and successful people we will tend to model their behavior.
If we should surround ourselves with whining, complaining, negative and largely unsuccessful people…Well, you get the point. At least, I hope you do.
When I was an active alcoholic I surrounded myself with people who liked to drink as much as I did. Partly to justify my own level of alcohol consumption and partly because I didn’t think I deserved any better. The thing is, because of the choices I was making I didn’t deserve any better. My posse and I were all headed no where fast.
Once I broke free of my addiction to alcohol I began to seek better for myself. At first, this included being around people who were successful in recovery. After a while it included people who were successful in business and in living a life they chose to live.
A few years ago I decided to see what else I might be able to accomplish in this world and began to try new things, to stretch myself beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. I began writing. I started a podcast. I eventually joined a community of successful entrepreneurs and ended up in a Mastermind group. The results have been amazing.
If you want to succeed better at what you do, to seek a higher level, to stretch beyond your own borders of the safe, the tried and the predictable, then seek out successful people and begin to learn from them. This will provide you with opportunities to be both challenged and held accountable for your plans and actions.
Don’t worry you can’t or won’t be able to contribute to the successful people with whom you choose to associate. You will. We all have different skill sets, knowledge bases and resources available to us. Someone will benefit from what you already know.
Vigorous personal growth requires fertile ground. Look around you. Are you standing in the tall grass or on barren ground?