Circle(s) of Influence
Your circle of influence can have a big impact on the direction of your life. Especially if you aren’t present enough to observe it.
Seb experienced this when his old buddy from high school showed up and derailed his process. The same thing happened with Max getting wrapped up in office politics without realizing it.
But even in the digital world, the content you consume can have the same effect. The shows you watch, forums you visit, newsletters you read, chats you participate in can all add up.
That’s why I avoid Social media. Specifically Twitter. You end up seeing the same ideas bouncing around over and over again, most of them generating from the news or current events. This is because there are real people involved, and people will often have their own circle of influence, influencing them. And by following whomever you follow, you inadvertently become part of that circle. It’s, of course, prudent to choose who you follow carefully, but even then, people can have different priorities at different times in life that don’t align with where you are or want to go. The constant noise also makes it challenging to think differently and work on your own ideas. Building something of value requires deep focus. Otherwise, you just end up thinking like everyone else and creating the same old stuff again. You wouldn’t want that, would you?
If we go a level up, the same applies to the news. Mainstream news, for example, is usually designed to catch your attention and is hence very sensationalist. If you make that part of your circle of influence, you might start feeling anxious for no apparent reason.
Even if you stick to business news, a bit of mainstream always creeps in. This is mostly just industry gossip designed to get views. I mean, would it really impact your life to know that
It’s quite simple in theory. You just have to ignite network effects at scale. At the scale of millions, to be precise. In practice, it can take 5-10 years (maybe more), which shouldn’t be an issue if you are thinking long-term. But what if you don’t want to grow that big? I get it, neither would I. It’s about having the right strategy. If you keep your expenses and responsibilities at a fixed scale while scaling revenues exponentially, you can find the sacred middle ground. Then you can decide how big you want to get without getting caught in a treadmill of growth. I detailed this strategy in how to build a high-growth tech startup (all by yourself). But the same concepts could probably apply to physical startups as well with a bit of creative thinking.
Wait, what were we talking about again?
As you can see, what you consume can dictate your thoughts, mood, mindset, and even direction in life.
Right, back to the topic at hand.
This is why I prefer long-form content, such as books. You can proactively choose what you want to pay attention to. The content has also usually been fleshed out and is generally more timeless than current trends. You might actually find some deep wisdom somewhere. And as a side effect, cultivate a longer attention span.
But, even the types of books you read can influence your thoughts in an unexpected direction. The key is to align your influences to the direction you want to head in as much as possible and be aware that any time there is a social element involved, people’s own circle(s) of influence will also be at play.
If you want to be an entrepreneur, then read books on entrepreneurship. If you want to be happier, study happiness. If you want to be more calm and less stressed, study mindfulness. If you want to do all of this simultaneously, study them all and find the intersection! If you want to move the world forward, study the greats and make them your circle of influence. Most of them have biographies. You can choose the parts you want to apply to your life and simply discard the rest. If you want to become a writer—well, you get the point. Anything can be learned, and you can learn anything. That’s something worth remembering on its own.
Sometimes you can’t avoid external influences. For example, if you have a family gathering or friends with a different vision. In that case, just observe. This is also a skill that takes practice. Every time you find yourself getting wrapped up in something, take a deep breath and step back. Then zoom out like a telescopic lens—all the way out—to the moon. Once you are there, observe the earth. What do you see? Just smile, and be grateful—simply for being alive and for how silly it all is :)
You can try it out now if you’d like.
Now, where were we?
Right, don’t let other people’s ideas (including mine) become part of your thought process by default—question whether they align with your values and the direction you want to go in. And every now and then, question whether your values and direction are still up to date.
The heart of the answer lies in the question,
Where do you want to go?
Make that your circle of influence.
And simply observe and enjoy the rest.
P.S. - For a more fictional approach to all these concepts, check out Year of the Tiger and Deja-Vu. They both require a premium subscription to finish, so subscribe now if you don’t already have one. Trust me. They are both worth it! :)
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