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The 3 Kinds of People that Push You Toward Your Personal Goals

By Maxwell Leadership | February 20, 2024
The 3 Kinds of People that Push You Toward Your Personal Goals

In his 5-decade career studying the achievement of personal goals, social psychologist Dr. David McClelland came to a shocking conclusion: as much as 95% of your success or failure in life depends on the people you regularly spend time with.

The leadership development community places a high value on personal responsibility: the only one responsible for your results is you. Your thoughts, beliefs, and habits influence your outcome. Hone your skills, refine your disciplines, and reap the rewards. But if Dr. McClelland is correct, then whether or not you get the promotion, lose the weight, start the business, write the book – achieve your dream – is determined by your social circle.

Why? Because humans share themselves by osmosis. Their thoughts become our thoughts – their beliefs, our beliefs; their habits, our habits. Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky said, “Through others, we become ourselves.” And it’s true. What surrounds us eventually finds its way inside of us and determines how we live our lives.

So, how do we make sure our circle sets us up for success?

Creating a Social Circle Constructive to Your Goals

Let’s start by clarifying that setting your mind on a goal does not mean burning bridges with your current friend group. It just means making sure you spend more time with people who have beliefs and habits that support your success. Specifically, these three kinds of people will empower you to achieve:


Inspiration often gives birth to goals, but it is also needed to keep them alive! We all need people to encourage us, cheer us on, and lift us to a higher level. Some people simply have that effect on us. When we are with them, they motivate us to live stronger, think better, work harder, and risk more. They compel us to continue!

One of the things about pursuing dreams is that we often get sidetracked and find ourselves taking unwanted detours. At such times, we need people who will hang in there with us.


We need people in our circle who are willing to tell us the truth. That may at first seem contradictory to the aim to include people who inspire us, but that’s not the case. We’re not looking for people who want to knock us down. Rather, we’re looking for people who are willing and able to give us constructive feedback. That’s especially important in the area of goals because, as Greek orator Demosthenes asserted, “Nothing is so easy as to deceive one’s self; for what we wish, we readily believe.”

Many people never ask for honest feedback from others. They fear reality and worry that someone telling them the truth will discourage them so much that they’ll give up. But pursuing a goal without receiving honest feedback is often little more than make-believe. And a dream that cannot survive honest criticism is a dream that’s likely never to be attained.

Author Stephen R. Covey observed, “It takes humility to seek feedback. It takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it.” It also takes humility to show appreciation for a person’s courage to provide honest feedback. And the good news is that if you ask for advice and show appreciation, you send a message that your desire to grow is bigger than your ego and you invite future feedback that will help you continue to improve.


You can’t do everything on your own. No one can. Successful people seek help from individuals who are skilled in areas other than their own.

The kinds of people you need on your team depend on your particular abilities, experience, and temperament. Think about your strategy for achieving your dream. What must be done to achieve it? Which of those things best suit your abilities? Which will require the help of others with different skills? Where will you need people with experience? What kinds of tasks will require a temperament different from yours?

There really is no such thing as a self-made person. People who are successful have had help along the way from others—whether or not they want to acknowledge it. Knowing this truth can free you to admit you need help and begin looking for it. And that’s a crucial step in the process of achieving success. The next step is to actually bring those people on board so that they are willing to take the journey toward the dream with you.

Are you surrounding yourself with people who push you toward your personal goals?

The Maxwell Leadership Certified Team is a group of more than 50,000 worldwide coaches, speakers, teachers, and leaders growing personally and thriving professionally. Wondering how we can help you achieve your goals? Click here to find out now.

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