Gravity’s lesson on influence (watch your environment)

Yesterday’s experience at the car dealership caused me to reflect on a principle I’ve often taught and thought about. It’s the power of gravity. Gravitation is the natural phenomenon by which all objects with mass attract each other. Every object in our environment exerts a force upon us. We don’t really notice this because of the huge force of the earth beneath our feet, but it’s there.

Similar to the forces pulling on us by the physical objects in our environment, there are spiritual, emotional, and psychological forces exerted upon us by our environment as well.

Back to the dealership now… standing there in the showroom, surrounded by the new ’08 Jag lineup, knowing I could just jump in one of those cars and drive away for another four years was really, really tempting. I had already made the decision to purchase a far more modest vehicle. But all the wisdom behind my prior decision sure seemed vague sitting there under the spotlights (they do that intentionally, and wow is it effective marketing!).

And of course there was my salesman, anxious to tell me all about the new technology (I’m a sucker for gadgetry, and because he’s a good salesman, he knew that—he’s a powerful persuader).

Fortunately, I forced myself to pull away, forced myself to realize that in that environment, surrounded by those shiny, new, expensive cars, I wouldn’t be using my best judgment.

Once I’d successfully dragged myself away from the much disappointed salesman (who really didn’t want me to go), my brain began to clear, the fog of my prior surroundings disappeared, and I was able to remember and appreciate the reasons why I’d made the decision I did.

The whole experience reminded me of the importance of paying attention to your surroundings. They play such an important role in the decisions you make.

If you’re at a party, for instance, where bad decisions are happening all around you, then all of a sudden making bad decisions becomes so much easier. On the other hand, if you’re putting yourself in constructive environments with like-minded people who have similar goals in life, their influence tends to propel you forward.

Whichever environment you choose exerts a force upon you, so choose wisely.

Environment can be a powerful mechanism of influence, when used appropriately. Good leaders know how to leverage this principle.

So it becomes helpful, even urgent, for us to take a look at our surroundings. What pictures hang on your walls? What music do you listen to? What friends do you have? Where do you hang out? What does your home look like? What does your ROOM or your car look like? What really IS in your environment? Look around, and ask yourself if the things that surround you are constructive, clean, positive, healthy, uplifting, encouraging, and orderly. If not, then the influence they’re exerting upon you might be one of your most significant self-imposed limitations.

So catch a vision of who you want to be and what you want to become, and then surround yourself with people, objects, sounds, and reminders of that vision. Pay attention to your environment—its force (for better or worse) is inescapable.


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