When engaging clients, groups and in my writings I’m always mentioning that Eagles hang with eagles and pigeons hang with other pigeons. A simple visual, but potent if you really stop and think about it. What I’m really saying is, who you associate with is either lifting you up or keeping you down.

In an age of instant communication and critics lurking at every corner doing their best to keep you a notch below or at their level of progress, it’s easy –unless you deliberately work on defending your mind- to allow other people’s opinions both online and offline to bring you down. This is much easier said than actually done as the fear of criticism is very real and to ignore it and treat it lightly is often the biggest mistake and trap that many people fall for.

So let’s go back to the eagle and the pigeon analogy for a quick minute. How does someone who’s acting and thinking like a pigeon completely turn their way of thinking upside down, if they so desire to, and grow into a high-achieving, on purpose, and high flying eagle? This is an interesting question and I’d like to share five reasons the power of association is critical to your overall success or failure in life.

#1. Those with whom you associate with do influence what you think about. There have been numerous studies done on people who in groups succumb to what’s called ‘group think.’ Covering the wide range of social groups such as fraternities, trade groups, religious organizations, political parties, to inmates and gang members, these groups and their members begin, after a period of time, to take on the attitude of the overall organization. Free thinkers are often not welcome and any opposition to the party line is usually met with public and private scorn.

Now, I’m not saying any of these groups are bad, however, I am suggesting that you be very careful about who and what messages you allow to enter and influence the most valuable thing I believe we all take for granted: our mind.

#2. When two or more minds work together in harmony either good things or bad things can happen. The late Napoleon Hill in his classic book Think and Grow Rich spent an entire lifetime chronicling and studying the power of what he called the Mastermind. In respect of time and to also prompt you to take action, I suggest you get or go back to this chapter in his book and read it several times. He explains the power and many benefits of multiple minds working together better than anyone I’ve ever met or studied with.

#3. When you model successful people the benefits are multiplied. This should be common sense, but let me share with you a powerful list of the many benefits readily available when you model successful people:

• You learn successful habits
• The ability to learn from their successes and failures
• An incredible amount of time savings
• Positive support on your life and career journey
• Introductions to other successful people, contacts, and resources
• The chance to share and receive new ideas that can help you and others

#4. Your opinion and attitude is directly influenced by those you spend the most time with.This is indisputable. Again, the question to ask when self-reflecting upon your own life is: are the people I’m mainly associated with lifting me up (Eagles) or are they bringing me down (Pigeons) with their actions, words, beliefs, goals and intentions?

If you do what I describe above, you may have a profound revelation and experience what the late, great, business success philosopher Jim Rohn described as, “The day that turns your life around.” To take a time out from the complexity of life, sit quietly and really look at where you’re at in life is a unique blessing that only human beings possess. It is truly a gift that few people really ever employ, yet alone on a consistent basis, to help them gauge where they’ve traveled on the wheel of life, where they’re currently at, and where they’d like to be in the future.

#5. Continued exposure to negative influences is not easy to fend off, but it is possible. I’ve been hammering home this point for years: Most media and entertainment around you is negative, hostile, guilt-driven, designed to provoke a reaction, and fear-based. I could lay out 101 reasons why, but I’ll strip it down as to why I believe it’s both seductive and hard to resist the negativity circling us: we are creatures of habit and programming.

When you see the media showing and glorifying people “drifting” and taking the easy path of instant gratification, it’s extremely difficult for many people to see or want to believe that persistence, patience, life-long learning, and hard work are just a few of the skills that high-achievers all practice. Stop and really think about that last sentence for a second. The ‘get-rich-quick’ mentality is not only an illusion but it makes people jaded to the reality of what will be required to improve their present situation if they know deep down they want to make a change.

I’ll go out on a limb here by saying that I truly believe that you owe it yourself, those you love and those you want to serve to strive at being your best and living with joy, passion and at full-throttle. To do this requires a proactive regiment of feeding your mind with positive information and most importantly surrounding yourself with other like-minded ‘Eagles’ that will support and push you to fly to greater heights.

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