…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 
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.