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You Are the Company You Keep: 6 Growth-Minded Changes to Make to Your Environment

By Maxwell Leadership | December 6, 2022
You Are the Company You Keep: 6 Growth-Minded Changes to Make to Your Environment

Take a moment to think about the last time when you were truly inspired – the last time you felt like your soul was well-nourished. You’re energized, filled with ideas, and eager to tackle the day’s challenges. 

Where were you?

What were you doing?

Who were you with?

What brought on the feeling?

And most importantly, were you inspired by your environment, or in spite of it?

Growth thrives in conducive surroundings.

One of John Maxwell’s 15 invaluable laws of growth reminds us that the health of our personal development is susceptible to our habitat. What is around us will eventually impact what’s inside of us – so if you’re on a journey of personal growth, you may need an “atmosphere adjustment.”

Here are 6 steps you can take to ensure you’re in a growth-friendly environment.

This blog post has been adapted from Dr. John Maxwell’s bestselling personal growth guidebook 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. For a comprehensive roadmap to accomplishing your personal growth goals, you can pick up a copy here.


All growth begins with an honest assessment. Take a survey of everything you’re exposed to in your environment – the ideas, attitudes, beliefs, experiences, and emotions brought on by the things you connect with daily. Consider that your environment sways your choices, and your choices directly determine your results. Then, analyze it all by one metric: is this helping me grow, or holding me back?


Even if we change our surroundings, growth is not a guarantee. Growth is not a given in any environment – it will always be something that we must actively seek. As John Maxwell says, “Everything worthwhile is uphill.”

As you adjust the atmosphere around you to support your growth goals, lean into the process. Begin the process of internal change before anything is different externally. This way, you increase and accelerate your chances of successful growth.


Social psychologist Dr. David McClelland dedicated his 50-year career to research on human motivation and achievement. For three of those five decades, Dr. McClelland conducted research as a Harvard faculty member – and for five years, as Chair of Harvard’s Department of Social Relations. One 2002 survey published by the journal Review of General Psychology named him one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century.

According to Dr. McClelland, the company you keep, directs your life.

His research concluded that the people you regularly spend time with can not just influence, but direct, “as much as 95% of your success or failure in life.”1 His findings are summarized perfectly by businessman Dan Peña’s wise words: “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.”

You are the company you keep. Is your circle nourishing you? Are you a better version of yourself when you’re around them? Do you aspire to their level of integrity? Do they speak life and accountability into your growth?


One of the hallmarks of a growth-oriented atmosphere is that it doesn’t allow you to coast. You must either stretch as you confront the challenges you’re faced with or settle back into your comfort zone.

But new surroundings aren’t a wave-of-the-wand solution – it is still your responsibility to stretch. Be on the lookout for every resource your new environment has to offer.

In The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell describes one personal development practice he’s kept since starting his growth journey: seeking out others “ahead of him” to learn from every week. Even to this day, he prepares for fruitful discussions with other leaders by asking five questions: 

  • What are their strengths? The area where they excel is where you learn from them the most.
  • What are they learning now? This is how you catch their passion for personal development.
  • What do I need to do right now? This question helps you apply their insights to your situation.
  • Who have they met, what have they read, or what have they done that has helped them? Asking this helps you find more growth opportunities.

What haven’t I asked that I should have? This question gives them the chance to offer their perspective on the changes you should make.


We all know what it’s like to regret – we’ve all felt the sting of wishing we’d made different choices. And unfortunately, we all know what it’s like to worry about what the future might look like.

We all know what it’s like to regret – we’ve all felt the sting of wishing we’d made different choices. And unfortunately, we all know what it’s like to worry about what the future might look like.

But how might things change if we focused on the present moment?

Movie star Shirley Temple Black once shared a poignant story offering perspective on regret and worry. When her husband, Charles, was young, he asked his mother, “What was the happiest moment of your life?”

“This moment, right now,” she answered.

“But what about all the other happy moments in your life? What about when you were married?” he asked her.

With a laugh, she said, “My happiest moment then was then. My happiest moment now is now. You can really only live in the moment you’re in. So to me that’s always the happiest moment.”

Right now is the only moment where anything happens. Memories hold the past; dreams hold the future – now is for decisions. You can utilize the moment before you to its fullest benefit.


We cannot reach our fullest potential alone. We need growth-minded partners on the journey with us who can hold us accountable and thoughtfully advise us: coaches, mentors, and life-giving friends.

But if we’re going to be intentional about growth, we have to be single-minded in our approach – and that means being selective about the input that we accept. No matter what your goal looks like or what plan you put in place to achieve it, there will be those who criticize without insight or noble intent.

Albert F. Geoffrey says, “When you take charge of your life, there is no longer need to ask permission of other people or society at large. When you ask permission, you gives someone veto power over your life.”

Move forward into growth, beyond your comfort zone, regardless of what your critics say.

1 The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John Maxwell

Are you searching for a growth-centered environment?

Surround yourself with empowering influences to guide your thoughts toward growth. The Maxwell Leadership app is free to download and curated with content purposed to help you accomplish your growth goals.

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