The past year has been full of celebrity infidelity and scandal. I’ve always been a news junkie, and it’s amazing to me how tabloid gossip has gained newsworthy status. In one of the “news” stories Tiger Woods’ former adviser was quoted as telling Tiger to “stay away from Michael Jordan,” claiming he was a bad influence on Tiger. Honestly, who’s really going to believe that No. 23 was the reason Tiger had extramarital affairs with a dozen women?!? But somehow, this guy attributes Jordan with leading his former client astray. It was also reported that Tiger’s best friend helped arrange his mistresses’ travel plans so they could join him on trips and have hotel rooms adjacent to his.

Regardless of whether these claims of outside influencers and enablers are true, it appears that personal accountability is becoming unfashionable these days.

So who are you choosing to associate with that might influence and enable you and your decisions? Although I completely believe we all need to be 100 percent accountable for our own decisions and actions, I also think there is a lot of truth in the saying that “birds of a feather flock together.” Whether in business or socially, the people you align yourself with encourage and influence the way you think and act. And that’s probably why the people you include as your closest friends and advisers are considered to be your circle of influence.

Initially, the people within your circle tend to influence your character. These people generally make an impression on you regarding your moral compass. They either help you or hinder you to make principled choices and to define what it means to “do the right thing.”

Next, the people with whom you surround yourself influence your attitude. You’ve probably heard that “attitudes are contagious.” I tend to think that’s a pretty accurate statement. While people with negative attitudes are magnets for like-minded curmudgeons and appreciate each other’s pessimistic company, people with positive attitudes work hard at staying positive and helping their positive-thinking friends to do the same, regardless of how difficult that can be.


And finally, your circle of influence tends to affect what you aspire to do and become in a measurable way. Essentially, this type of influence inspires you to “keep up with the Joneses.” Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re motivated in a materialistic or overly competitive way, but rather that your friends challenge you to strive for personal development and success. Whether that applies to improving your career, company, education, physical appearance or community involvement, the people you choose to associate with challenge you to be a “better you.” And that’s the key concept here ... they challenge you.

Hopefully you’ve chosen to surround yourself with people who challenge you to do what’s right, what’s positive and what’s difficult. Good friends and business advisers are willing to challenge you to think differently, make sound choices and grow on a personal and professional level because they’re invested in you and your success. And although it’s uncomfortable to have someone push back and question your decisions, they’re the people who actually care. PD

Tom Wall