I’m sure you’ve all heard it before – “surround yourself with the right people.” While some of you may have already realized the importance of this practice, some may not have just yet. In addition, I wanted to try to explain a bit more about why this truly is an important thing to think about, as too often, we take it for granted.
I’ve spoken a lot about context. The idea that whenever you do something you have to know what’s around you. Whether architecturally in the design process, or even in your own life, it’s important to understand holistically the environment you are in. We do this because often times a better understanding of these external forces and systems will allow you to make more informed decisions about your project – whether it be a design project, or a project of personal growth. Even in the business world, when releasing a product or investing in something, a thorough analysis of the market (the context) is a major driver behind the validity of a decision. When the context favors your goals, you’ve found the right project. What I want to discuss today, is the concept that when your project does not fit the context but fits within your vision, it’s time to change the context, not necessarily the project.
This approach to thinking about context and our surroundings can be understood in another way. Let’s think about it at the scale of the individual, the context being the company that we keep. Usually, when we think about what is around us we do so with the notion that what we want to put into the world has to fit into that context. We have to respond to that context in a way that engages our own interests, whatever they might be. The environment we surround ourselves with frequently, becomes the context within which we operate as humans. When we don’t fit in the context, we become unhappy and frustrated, because at that moment our interests no longer align with those of the people around us, and following your own path and journey becomes difficult. Among the biggest challenges in this scenario, is how to actually change your context, and find an environment where your vision can in fact flourish.
The importance of knowing the people you surround yourself with speaks to an idea I introduced in an earlier article, Isolating Toxicity The notion that you have to step back and look at how things in your life are affecting your time, decision making, health, stress levels, and journey to finding your purpose. There are a significant amount of things that may be appealing to us, but upon a closer look actually distract us from the long term goals we want to achieve. Among those, can be people. We tend to hesitate at the thought of cutting people out of our lives. We become attached to their presence, and comfortable with their influence on us. I don’t know the reason for this, but I would guess it had to do with the caring nature of the individual. It can be difficult to remove somebody from your life, especially if they were there for a significant chapter of it. The ability to understand the influence of the people we surround ourselves with can actually start to impact the ways in which you begin to grow and take steps to follow the life you want. When you no longer owe anything to a force that is holding you back, you are free to blossom into the person you want to be.
Just as I had mentioned in the beginning of this article, when you understand how the context affects the decisions you make you will start to see how important it is to surround yourself with the right people. The right people will push you to become something you want to be. Not because they owe it to you, but because they also want something similar. You begin to learn from one another, and support the progression of attaining your goals. Now, that is not to say that you have to only surround yourself with people that think like you. On the contrary, I think there is significant value in experiencing other opinions that contradict yours, as they allow you to be more aware of your context. The detachment from negative influences that I speak of comes more from a place of realizing what sucks your energy. Of understanding that some people in your life might hold you back from being something you want to be, and that is an extremely toxic situation to find yourself in.
So how do you really change your surroundings? How do you walk away from something you are familiar with and put yourself in a situation you may be entirely new to? This brings us to the concept of being uncomfortable. Many people will settle for toxic situations because they are afraid of the feelings associated with being unfamiliar with a new situation, or a new context let’s say. The danger of such a scenario becomes apparent when you ask yourself what you are learning from any given situation. A situation you are comfortable with, will not teach you as much as a situation you don’t know at all. To be stagnant is to surrender your growth process, and allow yourself to be swallowed by surroundings that are not helping you become who you want to be, and in some cases, taking away from who you already are. It takes a very strong will and lots of emotional strength to remove a toxic person, or toxic people from your life, but when you are faced with that feeling, ask yourself, what am I learning from this situation, and is it teaching me how to be the version of myself I want to be?
There is nothing wrong with fitting in, and there is equally nothing wrong with being different. The important thing is to realize when either of those scenarios starts to hold you back from attaining the goals and pursuing the purpose and passion you want – that is when you know it’s time to change your context.
See also: The beauty of being uncomfortable