Surround Yourself with Awesome


Surround Yourself with Awesome

January 6, 2012

…awesome what? Just. Just Awesome. Surround yourself with Awesome.

This was something that had never really crossed my mind until a couple of months ago. When you stop to think about it for a minute, it seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? If you want to achieve at a high level, surround yourself only with awesome people and awesome things. Then, and only then, will you start to flourish and begin to realize your full potential.

And yet.

[Tweet “I think a big part of what makes us human is also what can cripple us: emotions.”] We become attached to other people and even objects, and then we don’t know how to let go. Perhaps it’s the safety of remaining well within the confines of our comfort zone. It’s familiar, it’s cozy, and we know what to expect. Throw emotions into the equation, and we are that much more unwilling to instigate some sort of change. You know in the back of your mind that that person you’re hanging around with all the time – whether it’s a so-called friend, co-worker, or significant other – is poisoning you and slowly but surely bringing you down. But it’s easier to stick around than to shed that person from your life. And who doesn’t like easy?

The other barrier that has an iron grip on just about all of us is habits. They are hard to change. You’ve become so used to executing the same sequence of behaviors time and time again that to do anything otherwise throws us off kilter. Remember all those times when you told yourself that you wouldn’t wander over to the kitchen and open up the snack cabinet when the clock struck twelve? Remember when you vowed to stretch for 20 minutes every evening? How successful were you at that?

My Own Epiphany

Not too long ago, I had just wrapped up the academic school year and was making the drive down from the Bay area to Los Angeles with a buddy of mine. As we clocked mile after mile driving down the I-5, he turned and asked me what it was that I wanted to do with myself in the fitness industry. That was easy: in short, I wanted to make it big and have enough of a reach to change lives in a way that had never been done before.

“And what are you doing now to get yourself there?” he asked. I rattled off a short list of steps I’d taken, plus several more that I’d planned on accomplishing in the next few months. He stopped me when I told him that I was working with a trainer. “What has your trainer done for you?” Gave me a training plan and a nutrition plan, of course. And answered the occasional e-mail. “And how’s that coming along?” I stopped there. I had no good response. I hesitated to tell him that I’d approached my trainer a few weeks prior, asking for mentorship and guidance as I gingerly navigated my way through the fitness world – and that I’d been turned down… yet still continued to stick around. Talk about shameless.

I had to be brutally honest with myself: I hadn’t really made any sort of headway in getting closer to my goals. One of the problems, as it quickly became blatantly obvious, was that I was continuing to associate with people who added no value to my life and were unwilling to do so. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? My friend in the car watched me patiently as I struggled to come up with a half-decent answer.

“Listen,” he finally said. “Why are you with someone who’s keeping you on the ground when what you really need is someone who can make you fly?”

Gold. That question was gold. After dropping him off and I made my way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d asked. It bothered me; I didn’t like it. I wasn’t a fan of someone prodding at and doubting the way I ran things, but I knew he had a valid point. I’d become so accustomed to the way things were that revamping my life had never been an option.

Not long after, I cut the ties with my trainer. Sure, I waffled a bit. After I’d sat down and really thought about the cost-benefit ratio of keeping that person around, though, the answer was clear. I was scared to make myself vulnerable in that way and have no one to report to every other week. But something had to give.

The next couple of months, my life suddenly underwent a metamorphosis of sorts. I knew what I wanted to do, and I had a better idea of how to get there. I began to peel away from the people in my life who had nothing but negativity to offer. I took a deep breath and reached out my hand to those who I knew would be able and willing to help me in my journey.

What I Did

Talk about making yourself vulnerable. Do you know what it feels like to dive headfirst into something with nothing but sheer determination and the hope that good will come out of your actions? It’s scary. Yet that’s what I did, and here’s everything I’ve accomplished in a matter of four months:

  • I attended the FMI conference. Here I met some amazing people and learned about how to market myself as a fitness entrepreneur. I also had the opportunity to shoot with four different photographers. The biggest things I took away from this conference was that if I wanted to make a name for myself, I’d have to hustle – every damn day.
  • When I returned home, I finally threw myself into the winds of social media and made a Twitter account, which is something I’d long been hesitant to do. I was uncomfortable doing so, but I knew that in order to succeed, I’d have to get used to being outside of my comfort zone.
  • A few weeks later, I created a Facebook fan page. Do you want to know something? I cringed while I did this. Self-promotion is something I’d never done, and at first I couldn’t help but feel as though I was coming off as self-righteous in doing so.
  • I wrote my first-ever fitness article for Will Brink‘s site on my battle with my eating disorder. This was very well-received and currently has around 850 Facebook shares. Absolutely nuts!
  • In the midst of this, I began to more aggressively network in the fitness industry. Nobody knew who I was; I was bent on changing that soon. I’ve since been connected to Dick Talens, Rog Law, JC Deen, Coach Stevo, Ryan Zielonka, and Von Blanco, just to name a couple. More to follow.
  • Finally, about a week ago, I launched my site. This has probably been one of the more exciting milestones for myself. The fact that you’re here reading this – that is huge to me. Hello and thank you 🙂

Many of the connections that I’ve made recently would not have been possible had it not been for people who believed in me and went out of their way to assist in me some way. This is the power of social networking. And all of this came to fruition because I opened my eyes, shed my baggage, and associated myself with better, greater people.

Putting It Into Perspective

There’s a famous social psychology experiment called The Elevator Experiment. In short, it shows how we as human beings feel so much social pressure to conform to the behaviors of others.

This piece I’m writing isn’t about social pressure – but do you see the parallel here? Those people who walked into the elevator were total strangers, yet they got the subject to mimic their behavior in a matter of seconds. Seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? Now multiply that effect by about 8,234,104. Imagine what you could do if you spent the majority of your time around people who were awesome. Whatever they do, you may end up doing also, perhaps without even realizing it.  Eventually, you’ll find yourself… Awesome.

What You Should Do

Take a good hard look at the way your life is right now compared to the way you want it to be. Then think about the people you are closest to or spend the most time with. Are they tying you down into the ground? They may be preventing you from reaching your goals and becoming the best you.

It’s hard. Believe me, I know. It’s heart-wrenching to accept the fact that, no matter how emotionally attached you may be to them, some people and their chapters in your life may be over. I encourage you to be brave. Be bold. You may have something to lose, but you have everything to gain.

Examine your habits, too. Replace them. You may find that simply by virtue of being around Awesome, your habits will fix themselves.

Being Awesome in Vegas last week with my brother’s best friend, Awesome Josh

I don’t care what your goals are – whether they be fitness-related, career-oriented, personal, or what have you, I promise you that you will find yourself in a world of good if you surround yourself with Awesome. But don’t simply latch onto someone well-known and hang on for dear life in hopes that their magnificence will diffuse into you. It’s a two-way street, so make sure you have something for offer from your end as well. Help each other out.

Got it? Awesome.

  1. taranaki 9 years ago

    AWESOME post :). Couldn’t agree with you more.
    Reflecting on this I’m luckily already surrounded with awesome! My family and friends are really supportive of my goals :). And yes, I had to go through some phases where I realized that people where hindering my goals… it’s hard, but it was worth it 🙂

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      Looks like you’re ahead of the curve then 😉

      • taranaki 9 years ago

        I hope so :). I’ll keep working on keeping it that way!

  2. Yvette Rowe 9 years ago

    Excellent post! Self promotion is really hard for me too. I am kind of going through these same things.

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      Thanks for reading, T <3

  3. Meara M 9 years ago

    I was totally thinking about this on the way home from school today. This is something that I really need to focus on. I always tell my friends that how you feel is a choice, time to take my own advice and make myself awesome. Great post 😀

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      You can almost always control your own behaviors. Good on you for coming to this realization 🙂

  4. This was great Sohee. Or better yet… this was AWESOME.

    I’m glad to see that there’s other people out there who have a vision. A lot of people don’t have a vision for anything. They like living life of off scripts. Not me.

    I love that video of the Elevator Experiment by the way. It’s a perfect example of what we shouldn’t be doing in life. 😉

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      You have to have a vision to get somewhere, don’t you 😉

  5. Brian Danley 9 years ago

    Sohee, your point was well-stated. In essence one becomes a reflection of the people he or she allows to surround himself or herself. Your friends say much about who you are as a person. Exude positive energy and it will come back to you in spades.

  6. Matt Kittoe 9 years ago

    So I just came home from the bar, contemplating cutting many friends from my life because they offer nothing other than, well, shots of vodka. Before 2011 ended I’d decided I wasn’t going to go out with my friends for awhile and focus on meeting my goals, both physique and otherwise. I decided tonight that I’d give it one more shot– I’d stay sober and judge whether or not these people are actually worth being around.

    They aren’t. They so, so, aren’t.

    And so I came home, hopped on Fitocracy and saw that JC Deen linked to this post. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was so very relevant to what I’m going through.

    Thanks for posting this. It’s exactly what I needed.

    • JC Deen 9 years ago

      hey, I ain’t Sohee, but I feel I can contribute to this comment at least.

      I think anyone who ever comes to the realization they really want something specific will cross the road of deciding whether or not the people around them are going to be beneficial or not.

      Sadly, you may learn that you have to cut people off – sometimes for good. I’ve done it and I don’t regret it. Why? Simply because my life is richer than ever before because of the positive people I’ve surrounded myself with.

      Make sure you know what you want, then start removing the limitations – even if those limitations breathe and have a name.

      • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

        Hey Matt – sorry, definitely thought I replied to this already.

        I’ve certainly been in your exact position before. It’s not easy to move away from those kinds of people but you will find it incredibly refreshing once you do so. I’m really happy you stumbled across my article. Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Rob Umfress 9 years ago

    Great post Sohee. Especially around this time of year when people are just looking at making resolutions. Self awareness is huge for changing your behavior and your life. Toxic people are a bad habit, not much different than smoking or drinking (which is usually tied with the toxic people too).

    Love how you mentioned habits. Breaking old habits is hard, as is adopting new ones. Just take it little by little and they are sure to stick. Keep up the good writing, it’s nice seeing something other than a new way to loose fat or a new bunch of exercises this time of year. Would love to see a follow up in June.

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      I have several bad habits that I need to fix myself. I’ll tackle them one at a time.

  8. Taylor Smith 9 years ago

    Solid piece – guarantee this resonates with anyone who’s tasted success on an athletic, professional, or personal level. It takes more than crazy personal ambition and drive – having a supportive network is supremely important, especially if its filled with other ambitious, driven people that subconsciously push you to the next level.

    Looking forward to your next post!

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      Yes, Taylor, absolutely!

  9. Zak 9 years ago

    Great article. I think people vastly underestimate the influence that our friends and environment have on ourselves. Sometimes it can be very hard to cut those limiting relationships. But, at the end of the day, your friends will not care if your personal goals have been reached- you will.

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      Zak – Great point. I think sometimes you have to be a little bit selfish and put your own wellbeing and personal development first.

  10. Wifebucket video 9 years ago

    Highly descriptive article, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

  11. Michael 9 years ago

    Why do you have to go find other awsome people to surround yourself with? Why can’t you just become awsome yourself and rub off on those around you, lifting them into awsome territory? Don’t go looking for people to rub off on you. Try rubbing off on others. Awsome had to start somewhere.

    • Sohee Lee 9 years ago

      Michael, thanks for your input. It’s a two-way street; a cycle of sorts. You’re continually striving to make yourself awesome, but at the same time, you want to surround yourself with awesome people. Then you’ll encourage each other to become better and better.
      I’ve found from personal experience that trying to be awesome myself while continuing to hang around the same not-awesome people wasn’t enough.

  12. Danniel Paikau 5 years ago

    Churr great read.

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