Your Sphere of Influence

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.”

-Napoleon Hill

How many people are in your sphere of influence?  I bet it’s a lot more than you think.

Don’t underestimate the influence you have on the people around you.  Everyone you encounter today, and everyday, will be subject to your direct influence.  Whether it”s positive or negative is up to you.

I firmly believe that a major measure of a person’s success in life is their ability to positively influence the people around them.  Here’s the thing: you don’t need to be Tony Robbins or have the social reach of the Joe Rogan Podcast to have a profound impact.  Understand that influence can be as minute and nuanced as simple facial expressions, body language or even how you view the people around you.  It all has an impact.

How do people respond when you walk into the room, or when they see your name come up in their Facebook feed?  Do they need to prepare themselves for a sob story of doom and gloom, or does their day get immediately brighter?  I’m sure we’ve all hounded a friend to come YOLOing on a Saturday night, but have you hounded that same friend to change his life through Jiu Jitsu?

In a Jiu Jitsu Academy, everything you do has a direct affect on your classmates.  Everything from your attitude walking in, how you count during warm-ups, to how you respond after getting tapped out influences the room.  Are you the guy in the locker room recounting the night’s submissions to a captivated audience?

Be the type of person that makes training the best part of someone’s day.  Your teammates shouldn’t cringe when they see your car in the parking lot, they should be excited.

A shining example of this is when my good friend Bill Morris comes to visit my academy.  Anytime I see Bill walk through the front door I get excited.  Why?  Because he’s excited, and he waves it triumphantly like a banner.  He doesn’t try to hide it, he understands it’s contagious.  In warm-ups Bill’s counting shakes the walls and the chest cavities of the people around him, and soon enough everyone follows suit.  He isn’t embarrassed by his enthusiasm.  The energy is palpable, it raises everyone’s game, mine included.  I challenge you to be apathetic around Bill Morris, it’s impossible.

Your influence over those around you goes beyond how you act; we must also guard the way we think.  Psychologist Bob Rosenthal performed experiments proving the “expectancy effect,” where an observer’s expectations affected the outcome of an experiment.  He famously used two groups of ordinary, random rats and labeled the groups “smart” and “dumb.”  He then had two groups of researchers run the rats through a maze and record the results.  Interestingly, the group labeled “smart” performed far better than the “dumb” rats, although they were selected at random.  Why?  Because the researchers were clearly telepathic.  No.  Because the researchers unwittingly and naturally let the label of “smart” affect the way they treated the rats.  Science.

We unfortunately do the same thing with people.  If the first thought you have when you slap hands with your training partner is “this guys sucks,” you’re doing the both of you a disservice.  Change the way you think, and it”ll change the way you train.  This in turn will help your training partner improve, and help you not be an ass.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be in a position to influence countless people over the years through martial arts.  It’s something I do not take lightly.  Do your best to be fully aware of how you influence the people in your life, and of the importance that even your personal thoughts have on the outside world.

author: Peter McHugh

Professor Pete McHugh is the owner and Lead Instructor of McHugh BJJ in Mt. laurel NJ. He is a black belt under BJJ & MMA legend Ricardo Almeida.


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