There is a simple truth in this world…you are the sum total of the people you choose to spend your time with, right now. Whether you realize it or not, you become like the people you hang out with. They rub off on us, just as we rub off on them. After a while, you have the same thoughts, ideas, values, beliefs, you do the same activities and slowly become like each other.
The same thing happens in organizations, in groups of friends, in families, in couples, etc. In most cases, you don’t even know it is happening, but it does. It doesn’t take a lot of work or effort. It is not like you have to think about it, or necessarily do anything specific. It just happens.
On the one side, this is a wonderful thing. It is part of what makes belonging to a group so amazing because it comes a sense of security and belonging. You understand the norms of behaviour; how to dress, what to say, what your role in the group is, you know the jargon, etc. It can feel really good.
On the other side, being part of a group can also hold you back if you want to create something different for yourself. The group can become so vested in not changing that sometimes it may almost seem like they are holding you back. If you come up with a new idea, they make the attempt to convince you to come back in line with the group by giving you their well-meaning advice. Chances are, they like having you in the group and they don’t want to lose you.
There has been a time, when you made a decision to step out and do something different, although you may have had to leave your group to do so. Maybe you have left a company or a department or a position or a partnership in order to do so. Without a doubt, it wasn’t comfortable leaving the comfort of the group. You missed the security and the knowing of what it means to be part of something. However, in looking back, you will realize sometimes it is necessary to do so, if you want to create something different for you.
If you find you are looking to be something or do something different, here are two things to remember. The first one is, the people you are leaving are not bad people. They are simply comfortable doing what they are. If you want to pursue something different for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to want the same thing. Remember that no matter how you look at them today, there was a time when you were one of them. It is okay to move onto something else, without needing to judge them for not wanting the same thing.
The second one is to be purposeful in selecting your group. If you want to accomplish something different, you need to recognize you need a different group of people who are doing what you want to do. Chances are initially it may feel uncomfortable to be part of that new group. You won’t know their norms. You may even feel a little like an outcast, however recognize that chances are it is only temporary. It is up to you to stick in there. Listen and learn, rather than trying to have them conform to you. It is you who wants to be able to do what they are already able to do, so it is you who needs them. Not the other way around.
It is okay to be comfortable, but if you want something different then it is going to require you to embrace the uncomfortable…you can do it!