“You’re only as good as your mentors” Robert G Allen

The people whom you habitually associate with are called your “reference group” and these people determine as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life. The most significant factor in any person’s environment is the people. We become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most. If you change nothing else in your life for the better than that, you will have increased your chances of success tenfold. Think long and hard about whom you are spending the most time with, for wherever they are headed so are you. In other words “Too many Urkels on your team that’s why your wins low.”

When it comes to growth we tend to think that the journey is traveled best alone but this is far from the truth, not if you want to reach your full potential. We can’t get where we want to go on our own. We need the help of others to guide us on our way. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it means that you are strong. It’s imperative that you surround yourself with people with more experience than you so that they can help you reach their level. You can learn only if others are ahead of you, which makes it well worth the discomfort. Always ask questions. “The questions that you ask are far more important than the things that you could ever say.”-Elmer Wheeler.

I’ve met many people on my life’s journey and they have all impacted me in some way. In the past I would let toxic people into my life. People who wanted to use me and take advantage of me. People who didn’t have my best interest at heart but theirs. As I continued down my path of self-growth, I began to be more protective of myself and who I associated with. If they aren’t adding value to your life, they don’t need to be in it.

Recently I had an altercation with someone I thought was a good friend. In this moment they tried to demean me, talk down to me and devalue me. They said things like, “You aren’t that special.” “Who do you think you are?” among other negative things. I told them that I am special and I know my worth and I won’t accept the negative talk from them because I don’t even accept it from myself. This person had offered me a ride home because the bus stopped running, then had the audacity to try and speak negatively on me. These are the kind of people that I no longer wish to associate with. They are a waste of time and energy. They are energy suckers. They want to bring you down to their level of insecurity, don’t fall into the trap.

Surround yourself with positive people. People who will support you. People who cheer you on. People who will be there for you when times get rough. People who will promote you. People who will uplift you. Loyalty is hard to come by these days but find someone who is loyal and maintain that relationship. I have significantly changed who I associate with and the growth has been tremendous. Most of my current friends are my mentors. Seek the people who will help you grow and don’t let squares into your circle.

Make everyday your masterpiece

One of the fundamental keys to success is time management. Time is one of the most valuable resources as once it’s lost its gone forever. How we choose to use our time has a direct effect on everything that we accomplish. Staying organized helps significantly. You either run the day or the day runs you. Every hour of my day is planned out months in advance, meetings, clients, writings, emails, events, family time. I personally like to use Google Calendar, to stay organized.

I once read that in terms of an 8 hour work day, “Everything that you have to accomplish at work should be able to be done within those 8 hours.” Which is true. When you learn to prioritize your time and make it work for you, the possibilities of what you can accomplish are endless.

The biggest factor in terms of time management is EFFICIENCY. When we work efficiently we accomplish a whole lot more. All too often we try to “multi-task” and fail epically. Every. Single. Time. The problem is that we cannot fully engage in two tasks at once. One of the tasks will receive less attention.

We have to schedule our priorities. I always select one task that I MUST accomplish no matter what, that is typically my priority for the day. Then I follow my commitment to myself, self-growth. On a typical day I allocate 3 hours to reading. 1 in the morning and 2 at night before bed, or I accomplish a majority of my reading while on the bus. Generally multi-tasking is inefficient but it works in this case, what else would I be doing? The other 11 hours are used to their best benefit. I prioritize by allotting a certain amount of time per project, whether it is prepping for an event, writing a blog post, or cooking for a client. I plan my day according to what needs to get done. I set a time limit for each project. I figure out how long I think it will take then I add an additional 30 minutes to an hour depending on the level of difficulty required just to be safe.

When we prioritize we factor out all the bullshit. Once you begin to prioritize your time you will see how much is wasted on minor things that probably are not doing anything to help you reach your goals anyway. Let’s be realistic, balance is also important. We can’t be all work all of the time but when you prioritize your time, you have more time for yourself. I schedule at least one task a day that I enjoy doing, swimming, hiking, listening to music.

I first learned the value of time while working in the kitchen. Time is very important, everything you prep, cook, plate and clean in a kitchen has to be done with efficiency and that is achieved by prioritizing. You almost have to plan every move to make sure that you are operating with the highest level of efficiency. If you need to grab two things at once you always reach for them with both hands simultaneously. If you don’t manage your time in prep or cooking you can quickly put yourself in the weeds and bring the entire line down.

I also learned to be punctual in the kitchen. It is better to be two hours early then one minute late. Typically you are expected to be in the kitchen dressed and ready to go 15 minutes before your shift. When you have a pre-shift meeting it is pretty obvious when you are late. When everyone comes back from family meal to scrub the floor before dinner service, it is obvious when you are late. Being late also shows a lack of respect.
When it comes to achieving your goals prioritize your day put first things first and make your everyday your masterpiece.