Since a few months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted us to change how we live in unimaginable ways. Nobody would have predicted that homeschooling would be the norm and wearing face masks mandatory while shopping at the local grocery stores. But of the many changes we have been made to make by the pandemic, nothing has been more profound as social distancing, a concept that’s contrary to the core element of what makes us social beings. Inasmuch as we increase our physical, social distance from each other, to prevent the spread of the virus, we should not neglect to cultivate the important relationships that help us improve. Now that I have to stay away from gatherings such as assembling with my church family for Sunday worship service, I have to utilize virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom or Google Hangouts to maintain the connections with people in my life. This made me realize that I can still forge and foster relationships that matter for my personal growth and development despite social distancing. My core belief is that to become better, we need to move closer to key people in our lives; people who by merely being around them our lives become better. By being closer to movers-and-shakers, the eagles who fly high during the storm, such as we are facing, we benefit from the proximity principle.
Do you want to maximize the “lucky” breaks in your life? Do you want to go further in anything you do than you have ever gone? Do you desire to maximize your influence and the impact of your life? If your answers to these questions are yes, then you must be near where the acts of success are happening, which means you have to be close to people who are succeeding in whatever area you want to experience any success. I define the proximity principle as the distance between you and the people related to which determines the negative or positive impact they have on you. For example, if you are close to a person who has a positive outlook on life, you will soon have the same outlook. This works in areas of skills. If you want to improve your communication or writing skills, you should hang around people with these skills and you will notice an improvement. The great Michael Jordan wanted to be great and be in the class of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, so he cultivated personal relationships with these men. When Kobe Bryant came around as a rookie in the NBA, Jordan was the G.O.A.T., and in desiring to achieve greatness, he applied the proximity principle by cultivating a personal relationship with Jordan. What is the lesson here? If you desire to be excellent and successful, move near great people who will help you grow into greatness. How do you do this? By intentionally building relationships that matter for your personal growth. Here are three simple steps you can do starting today to benefit from the proximity principle.
1. Surround yourself with like-value people
Growing up, whenever I went to visit my grandparents, I enjoyed playing with fire, in the literal sense. I would sit beside a fireplace and periodically pull out a piece of burning coal from the grill and allow it to sit separated from the rest. I noticed that the burning coal I had pulled out would quickly go off. And whenever I put it back with the rest of the charcoals in the grill, it would continue to burn. My conclusion was that one coal needs to be amid other burning charcoals to fully release its potential. We can draw valuable lessons from this analogy of the burning charcoal to when people of similar values come together. First, the people who we surround ourselves with will determine the intensity of our passion. This is important, especially in achieving growth that leads to success in any life’s mission. Second, we can only reach our full potential in life when we are around the right people. Dr. John Maxwell advises, “The better you are at surrounding yourself with people of high potential, the greater your chance for success.” Third, only when other like-value people surround you can you do great things. Such as one piece of charcoal can’t cook food by itself, but requires a collective effort from many charcoals, you too can only achieve greatness when you collaborate with others. On top of my collaboration list are mentors and coaches.
2. Use mentoring and coaching
As you find your people, that is the like-value or like-minded people; I highly encourage you to use mentoring and coaching to aid you to grow exponentially. A mentor or a life coach is a person you are in a relationship with who intentionally guides you to see the strengths in you and help you tap into your potential.
All people who achieve great success have had mentors and coaches who helped them along the way. Coach Dean Smith, called a “coaching legend” by the Basketball Hall of Fame, was one of the many coaches who came alongside the legend Michael Jordan. Another coach was the renowned Phil Jackson, who enabled Michael to win six championships with the Chicago Bulls.
To have a great mentor coach relationship, keep this in mind. You must be ready to be corrected, want to get better, and have the ability to improve. “He (MJ) was very inconsistent” this was the initial assessment of Dean Smith on Michael Jordan when he started working with him. But the coach added, “He wanted to get better, and then he had the ability to get better.”
I believe it is when we surround ourselves with people whose values resonate with ours and work with mentors and coaches that we can become people of positive impact as the great MJ.
3. Be a person of positive impact
The more I study successful people; I have come to recognize a simple yet profound principle on breaking limits in our life. All truly successful people have realized that giving of themselves in doing things that will positively impact others is the way to discovering new possibilities and breaking limits in their lives. This is not only true to the super successful people who we put on a pedestal as a society, but also true in our successes which don’t get camera attention. The first way to experience personal growth is to become a person of positive impact. If you live a selfish life, only looking out for yourself, you can only go so far before sabotaging your progress. But to expand your growth at an exponential rate, and accelerate your progress towards success, you will need to find a way to live beyond yourself by giving to others. Giving our resources only opens our eyes to the depth of what we have. Selfish living limits us from getting more resources.
To be a person of positive impact, I possess these attitudes that I ask you to also have. I begin my days believing that I can make a difference in someone’s life. Every day I look for ways that I can add value to anyone I interact with. And when I see an opportunity to positively impact anyone, I immediately do it. If you possess these attitudes, you will find that you can do more great things than you thought possible. In the process, you will be cultivating relationships that matter for your growth.
With this post, we have come to the end of our series on personal growth. Here is a quote to ponder on by quote by Jack Canfield, the author of Key to Living the Law of Attraction, “Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people; people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams and applaud your victories.” The next series will be on habits.