* 7 minute read *
Whether we realise it or not we all surround ourselves and are surrounded by circles. Social circles, family circles, business and work circles, Google+ circles, in fact a whole bunch of different online circles! This week I’m talking about circles and particularly family, friends and online circles.
Sometimes these circles just happen, either because we unconsciously allow them to happen or we have been born into them. Other times we consciously choose and create them.
Let’s take family for example. We don’t get to choose the family circle we are born into and it’s undeniable how much this circle influences us throughout our life. In many ways I am so grateful for the environment that I was born into. Through my faith and my family I have always had a strong sense of community to support me. Since I was born, I’ve been surrounded by a circle of people who love and care about me and this is something I don’t take for granted. Other people have not been so fortunate.
My beautiful friend Sue-Ching once told me a story about how she volunteered at a Brisbane homeless shelter. She made this observation:
“I feel like the only difference between these people [those experiencing homelessness] and me has been the choices we’ve made and the people who’ve been there to support us.”
Be Awesome is all about the power of choice and taking positive action, to propel ourselves forward. I’m a strong advocate for the “just do it“approach rather than standing still in a state of uncertainty. In my opinion there is no such thing as a “wrong” choice or action as any action will bring us experience and with experience comes wisdom.
However, this is really easy to say from the perspective of being someone with a strong circle of support. We all make choices or take action at some point in ways that are not in our best interests, and we stumble and fall. Sue-Ching’s point was to acknowledge how blessed we are to have a circle that catches us when we fall, because not everybody does.
This is why our friends are often so important to us. When it comes to our circle of friends, I believe there are two elements that keep this circle strong; choice and investment.
Choosing our friends is really important! As Jim Rohn has famously said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Although people float in and out of our lives for different reasons, it is up to us to choose the ones we want to remain close to. If we are conscious of this important choice, then we can surround ourselves with friends who lift us up, who make us feel more alive, and who encourage to become more of who we are.
I’ve only just realised this week how a big void has been left in my circle of friends over the last couple of months since my good buddies Mark, Simon and Jared have moved to different cities (and countries!) Our friendships can still be strong regardless of where we live, however I realise that I need to consciously continue to create a circle of brothers for myself here in Brisbane.
However, it’s not enough to just choose our circle of friends wisely. We must also invest.
Sue-Ching is an awesome friend; she’s been there for me so many times over the years. I appreciate this support but I realise it also comes with a reciprocal responsibility. It means that I need to be there for her at the times when she needs me.
My friend Simon explains this idea of investment well. He says that our friendships operate like a line of credit that we invest in and draw on when we need to. If we’ve invested a lot in another person, then it becomes easier for them to support us or forgive us when times are tough. However, if we have neglected to invest in our friendship this support becomes so much harder to draw on.
Now, let’s think about our online circles. In a way these circles of influence emerge much like our circle of friends, they can float into our lives quote randomly (a friend request here, a twitter follow there) until we reach a point where that influence becomes overwhelming and noisy! The online world can become extremely consumptive (trust me, I’ve been consumed!), and we must never lose sight of the fact that we have the power to choose what enters our online circle of influence.
We can adopt the same conscious decision-making process for our online circles as we do for our friendship circles. When you’re browsing online ask yourself does this lift me up? Does it make me feel more alive? Does it encourage me to become more (not less) of who I am? Does it inspire me? If not it’s really simple:
And my personal favourite….
Perhaps in this day and age we are the average of the five online sources we view the most of!
So, I’m curious:
- What 5 online sources (Facebook friends, Twitter users or blogs you follow) do you view the most on average during a week? Are they have a life-giving or life-taking influence on you?
- Who are the 5 people you spend the most time with or who have the most influence on your life? Are you allowing these people to lift you up or drag you down?
- Think about some of the points in your life where you have fallen and someone has been there to catch you. I challenge you to reach out to at least 5 people this week who have been there for you in the past and share your gratitude. You are one of the lucky ones!
Til next week Be Awesome!
PS. If you are in Brisbane, the APDL (my day job) is hosting a forum on the 17 September called ‘Think Outside’ which will be exploring the question: “how might we design out homelessness?” Click here for more information.
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