Column: Change your surroundings

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Early in my career, I worked with a business in the construction industry with about 40 employees. They wanted me to help increase profitability and productivity which had been slipping for years.

After a few meetings, I quickly realized that the problem started with one of the senior leaders in the firm, a guy we’ll call Steve.

Steve was always in a bad mood. In addition, no matter what the situation, Steve would come up with 15 reasons why things were about to become worse. He never saw a solution – only problems.

Unfortunately, the owner was convinced that the whole place would implode if Steve were to leave. No one could possibly replace him.

After months of conversations, I finally convinced the owner to give Steve his walking papers.

Guess what happened?

People actually smiled when they were at work. There was less complaining and the parking lot didn’t automatically empty at 5:01pm.

Guess what else happened?

Profits and productivity steadily rose. It turns out the company could survive without Steve.

The truth is that we are all a product of our environment. While our ability to resist its influence changes as we mature, the environment still heavily impacts the decisions we make and the results we generate. If your life isn’t where you’d like it to be, take a look around and see what needs to change.

First, start with what you watch on TV. Do you watch the evening news, a 30 minute barrage of negative information focused on keeping your attention? How about the radio? Do you listen to talk shows that slam every celebrity, politician, or sports figure? What about the Internet? Is your web browser filled with chat rooms that blast political candidates?

In other words, have you become obsessed with Lindsay Lohan?

Next, what about the people at your office? Do you tend to hang out with (or recruit) individuals who complain about your customers, prospects and the economy? Do you schedule lunch appointments with old friends who gossip about your college friends?

Think of your brain as a software program. The inputs or lines of code are comprised of what you read, watch and listen to throughout the day. Are these inputs programming you to become a positive person focused on the endless opportunities we enjoy each day? Or, are you becoming cynical, expecting bad news every time you turn on the TV, open your email or pick up the phone?

Environment

As with most things in life, the solution is simple. All you need to do is choose to execute.

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