Surround yourself with good people

The new year is a great time to do a “mental reset.”  Here’s how I approach the “mental reset” practice: I take time to reflect on the year. I like to identify the things that went well. And the things that didn’t go so well. I use this reflection to set goals for the upcoming year. It’s a mix of reinforcing the things that went well and improving on the things that didn’t go so well. Then I add in some new goals and targets. I come up with a “big picture” of how I envision the upcoming year. I find that this is really helpful in putting the upcoming year in perspective and setting priorities.

Part of a successful year depends on surrounding yourself with the right people.  When I look back on my career as an athlete, as a graduate student, and in the workforce, the people with whom I surrounded myself had a strong influence on my success. Teachers, coaches, friends, mentors, competitors… They all influenced me. Some empowered me and held me to higher expectations than I would have on my own. Others let me slip and be lazy.

I referred to this group as my “inner circle.” These were the few people I could 100% completely trust. They were friends as well as mentors. I allowed them to see me at my most vulnerable. They saw the best and worst sides of me.

When I was a track and field athlete, I was surrounded by my team and my coaches. They served as my trusted group, friends, accountability, and authority.  When I moved into solo sports (triathlon), I looked for like-minded people to fill this role. I found athletes I could train with and sources of knowledge I could trust. I could have done A LOT better at immersing myself with these people, but the few people I found were my guides, training partners, and mentors as I learned about endurance sport. Ad the same thing happened in graduate school. My advisors and mentors were the reason I succeeded.

And it wasn’t just the people, but the CULTURE. These people created a “feel” that brought out the best in me. I’m sure you can think of various times in your life where your peer group and the culture and played an important role in your success (or your struggles..).

“Choose someone whose way of life as well as words have won your approval. There is a need for someone as a standard against which our character can measure itself. Without a ruler to do it against you won’t make crooked straight.

                              – Seneca

Read and re-read that quote from Seneca above. Seneca was imploring us to look for role models as a barometer by which to measure ourselves. My most successful times came when I had a person or a group of people that I measured myself against. Not just as a performance metric, but a character metric. Discipline, work ethic, passion, personality. And those people created a culture. I was held to a high standard. Excellence was expected. I liked being associated with them, and felt like I was a better person because of them.

So, one of the things I think about as I transition from one year to another is WHO do I want to hang out with? WHO can I look to to empower me to be a better person, better athlete, better coach, better friend…  HOW do I create a culture where I’m inspired (and required) to be the best version of me?

In THIS POST, I challenged you with finding THREE THINGS to set the stage for a successful 2019? Now I want to add to that challenge and ask you to find a PERSON or GROUP or CULTURE whose way of life is your standard to make you the best version of you that you can be. This will be a powerful tool to keep you motivated, accountable, and inspired in 2019.