Based on your business model and procedures, the time(s) when you take these measurements may change. At certain times of the year (like the impending changing of the seasons), people often reflect and “take stock” (a clear reference to inventory) of their progress as a start to looking forward to a successful future.
While there are many things you could be measuring, considering, and thinking about, I’m going to suggest you take an unusual inventory. This isn’t likely one you have considered often, but it could be as influential as any you could undertake. I’m encouraging you to take an inventory of your associations and relationships.
It’s been said that the only things that will change us in the next five years are the books we read and the people with whom we associate. I’m not sure it is quite that cut-and-dried, but there is no question that we are influenced greatly by the people with whom we spend our time.
These people influence our attitude, the information we collect, the perspective we have, the language we use, and so much more. Yet, most people don’t make conscious choices about whom they meet and spend their time. As important as these associations and relationship are, it makes sense to exercise control and choice in the matter.
Take this inventory by asking these three questions . . .
Who am I spending time with? Make a list of the people you have spent the most time with over the past year (or few months). Like an inventory, list who these people are, and if you can, some rough amount of time spent with each (or perhaps putting people on 3 lists based on overall amount of time you’ve spent with them).
How are they impacting me? This is the key question. For each person, think about the time spent with them, the topics of conversation, and how you feel before, during, and after your interactions with them. Examine how they are influencing you, your attitude, your emotions, and more.
Is this what I want? Once you have done this analysis, determine if that influence is what you want more of in your life or not. Is your interaction with that person serving your health, wealth, and happiness? Or is that person’s influence on you an obstacle in your path?
Just like in business, collecting the inventory information is only half of the process. Once you have the information, you must take action based on what you have learned. Consider the following actions based on the results of your inventory.
Let them go. There may be some people on your list that you now realize are a hindrance to you and your future. If so, look for ways to release them from your sphere of influence. This isn’t easy and shouldn’t be taken lightly, yet making this change may have a significant positive influence on your life. . . and it is your life.
Limit your interaction. Even if you want to, there may be some people you can’t, or choose not to completely disassociate with – co-workers, Customers, and family members come to mind. In these cases, the key idea is intentional interaction. While you will need to be with these people, find ways to limit the interaction or manage the conversation and situations in new ways. Be aware of how these people have influenced you in the past, and resolve to be more immune to it, or even try to change the conversations or interactions in the future.
Expand and increase. Perhaps the most important part of this exercise, the idea here is to make time for those positive influences and situations. Further, look for ways to meet and interact with more people who will be a positive influence on your attitude, emotions, and thoughts. Think about who you can learn from and who you want to emulate. Be proactive in getting to know them (adding them to your associations) and/or spending more time with them.
In every case of a business inventory, time is set aside for an important task. Those taking that inventory might think there are other, more pressing matters, yet we know the inventory is needed. The same is true for the personal inventory I am suggesting here. In the moment, it never seems necessary, and in the moment, there is always something else to do. The most effective leaders (and achievers) get past the moment and look at the bigger picture.
While not easy or obvious, this conscious and intentional personal inventory might be the most important one you could ever take.