Relationships. They can make or break you and your personal growth. There’s no doubt about that.

And no, I’m not talking about lovers – that’s a completely different subject. But as in love, so too in your working life, you – and your success of failure – are defined by the company you keep.

Personal growth and who you spend your time with

This is a hard but obvious truth that not everyone can deal with. But it’s true. And the older you get the more you will realize how important it is to fulfilling your personal growth aims.

Just as the revolutionary 75-year study conducted by Harvard University revealed recently that the single most important factor in human happiness are good relationships with those around us, so too is this concept applicable to our working lives.

Who are your personal growth “influencers”?

The late American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn perhaps said it best. Among many of his countless pearls of wisdom, he stated: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It’s a concept that Tony Robbins took forward and inspired millions of people with his motivational speeches and books. And whether you are aware of it or not, these five people are your key personal growth “influencers”.

An interesting insight, and one we tend to easily forget. That’s why we end up “wasting time” with toxic people who we for some sentimental reason hold on to. You know the kind. The ones you have known for years but sometimes wonder why you are still associate with them. These are the same people who hold you back from achieving your full potential.

Choose your influencers wisely

Basically, the truth is this: those who we surround ourselves with are the biggest influence on our behavior, attitudes, actions and, most significantly, our results. The course of your life can often be set by the things those people have you thinking, saying, and doing.

So who are your personal growth “famous five”? Ah, I only need to utter the phrase and it brings up nostalgic childhood memories of reading Enid Blighton’s The Famous Five books. If you’re not from the UK you may not have a clue what I’m taking about. No problems.

In a nutshell, The Famous Five was a collection of stories about a group of five friends who did awesome, adventurous things together. I guess in today’s modern terms they would be called your “squad”. Either way, as I mentioned they are your true influencers. Not the handful of celebrities you may follow on social media.

So what do you need to do? Basically, you need to choose those five people wisely. Because the result will be a happy and healthy body and mind, which will lead to creativity and productivity levels that are off the charts. Oh yes, and you’ll surely nurture your talent better and boost your skills along the way.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy to do this, but there are five key ways to at least try.

Commit to your statement of intent

First of all, decide that it’s going to happen, and that you are going to follow through on your intention to actively seek out like-minded people to help your personal growth. The first, and hardest step, is to commit to yourself. Then the rest will follow. As part of this, you might want to add a couple of specific goals, such as “I will move to a new area/house”, and/or “I’ll join that x community that I’ve always followed or I am interested in”. Above all, be dedicated.

Create your own bubble

We all live in our little personal bubbles these days don’t we? Stuck in our daily grind, with not even half of one eye on trying actively to change things. Some call this the comfort zone. But in reality it’s the epitome of uncomfortable. How do you change it? By changing the close-knit group of people around you. Start by going after people you admire. And actively reconstruct your social environment. Don’t let geography get in the way. If a couple of these people are far away, you can always connect on the Internet. The point is that whether you meet someone at an event, through a friend of a friend, or online, is this: when you find someone who’s doing something directly aligned with your goals and dreams, email them and build a personal relationship with them.

Let go

There’s no easy way to say this, and there definitely is not an easy way to do it, but you have to be ready to let go of some old friends. You may even know that they are a bad influence on you but you have known them since high school, or even before. If they are negative, unambitious or ultra-competitive with, they are only bringing you down as far as your personal growth goes. And holding you back from what you want to achieve both personally and professionally. So yeah, let go of them and show yourself some love.

Try being an extreme extrovert

Whether you are comfortable in social situations or not, you have to be willing to try being an over-extrovert. Not in a noisy, brazen or obnoxious way. I simply mean that you have to get out there and put yourself out there a little and unleash your confidence. Search for your ‘famous five’ online, or better still at networking or industry/life-related events. You know, those events you always say your interested in on social media but don’t end up going. Those weird startup community events, open coffee nights, and business community gatherings. Say yes more than no and stick to your guns. Go. And once there, make your connections.

Be open to new experiences

An obvious one. But its something we often say we are, but actually we rarely do. Maybe you are the quietest person in the room when you go to a networking event. Maybe you are worried you won’t be good at a sport you’re trying to get into in order to meet some potential future “famous fives”. In this cases, remind yourself this: no one is good or great at anything when they first start. When you’re feeling anxious, step outside of your life and try to look at it objectively. Research shows that putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a unique part of the brain that releases dopamine, nature’s well known ‘make-you-happy’ chemical. The result: personal growth heaven!

Go get your peeps!

Of course there’s many more ways to try and build your personal influencer group, or “success squad”. The above is just a rough guideline to help you realize that it’s more about changing your own point of view or perspectives first. And tapping into your emotional intelligence, as well as making some tough decisions. But, and here’s the good part, you will come out of it the better for it on the other side. Both personally and professionally.


Graham Wood Graham Wood

The Starttech Ventures Storyteller. Studied Journalism with Business at the University of Central Lancashire. Has worked in various product marketing management positions for the likes of Nokia, Samsung and Vodafone, as well as in several journalism and media roles since 2000.