The Influence of Those Around Me    

Where is that coming from? That noise? Those thoughts? This feeling? It seems louder, constant; feels unsettling. I wish they would stop it. Somebody make it stop.

I am listening. I’m thinking. And while this is not an account of actual conversation, a single exchange between me and another, it is a cumulative thematic reflection of the expressions interpreted through any period of time.

As I listen, think, and try to understand, I often find myself pondering, “where are these people getting their information?” “Who are they surrounding themselves with and why?”

Having the occasional opportunity to actually ask these questions, it starts to make sense – and I’m saddened by hearing the answers. Very often, it is ‘the news’ and streaming ‘rants’ from political associations, celebrity quips, and other people they do not know. “Why,” I ask. “Because I want to know what’s going on,” is the common answer.

What’s going on is that you’re reaching for something you cannot touch, attaching your mind and emotions to random others while yelling “stop” into that void, which you’ve chosen to focus on. The saying, “you can’t help someone until they are ready for help,” is not always true, but as in addiction and other behavior struggles – and in these cases, it is true.

In these moments, I find myself fading into a slow head twist, back and forth, as thoughts of the voices I hear, the information I consume, conversations and people I engage in and with, and I’m swept into peaceful gratitude for the people around me.

I think of the podcasts from friends, Garry Turner (Value Through Vulnerability), Kevin Monroe (The Higher Purpose Podcast), Marcel Schwantes (Love In Action). I pause. Whoa. Read that again; personal insight, growth, and vulnerability; greater meaning, intention, and purpose; self-care, self-worth, and outreach with care for others. Amazing. Grateful.

I think of the communities and people I interact with, the authors published on BizCatalyst 360° and the overarching ethos of 360° Nation with Dennis Pitocco, the HumansFirst global network simply inspiring humans, and my work with companies of people seeking positive change.

I mentally scan books from friends: Kimberly Davis (Brave Leadership), Ozlem Brooke Erol (Create a Life You Love), Melissa Hughes (Happy/Happier Hour with Einstein and her gratitude journal), Jeff Ikler and Kirsten Richert (Shifting), Heather Younger (The Art of Caring Leadership [coming soon] and her podcast Leading with Heart), Mark LeBusque (Being Human and the Little Book of Human and his podcast Simply, Practically Human), Heather Hanson Wickman (the Evolved Executive – the Future of Work is Love in Action), and so many, many more.

Look at those titles. Look who these people are. See it, feel it, there are incredibly gifted people sharing their gifts openly, engaging, and bringing dialog, truth, perspective.

By choice, every day, there is an ocean of information to consume that does not cause me to question the “noise,” want it to stop, or feel unsettled. I’m lucky, yes. But “lucky” by choice.

Those I sympathize with, listen to, and feel their struggle, also have choices. While they feel victimized, their choices are fueling that narrative. Much of it is self-inflicted and they resist steps to emotional and mental fitness. They remain fixed in their patterns of information and continue to surround themselves with voices of blind/manipulative allegiances and comparative identity. The opportunity is to stop themselves, rather than shout pleas of conditional change into the void.

Whew. Wow. Thank goodness for the influence of those around me.

We all have the ability to change our lives. In Believership – The Superpower Beyond Leadership, I share the tenets that pointed me to “lucky:”

  • Stop self-sabotaging
  • Have a plan
  • Smile

I diligently and thoughtfully curate and choose my information sources. I am kept very aware of the depth I choose. Nearly 5 years ago I turned off TV news. I am smarter, not dumber. Better informed, not less informed. It was a habit, not information seeking. Try it for one week – seriously, no cheating, not peeks just to see the weather (get an app), and there are no sports so that’s easy. I believe this little test will change your life. Most of you won’t do it. You’ll defend your habit rigorously. I get it and appreciate you and your choices.

Want one more fun little experiment? You know when you hear something you don’t agree with, or someone cuts you off in traffic, or see someone not wearing a mask these days; you pierce your lips slightly together, partially close your eyes, and shake your head side to side. Ever count how many times you do this in a single day? How about a week?

Here you go – choose a friend as a fun/accountability partner. Each day text/communicate how many times you caught yourself in the act. Guess how many times this happens in a week and see how many days it takes to get to that number. Each time you catch yourself in the pierced-lip, indignant headshake, SMILE at the fact you recognized the thought/action. You’ll be amazed at your ability to flip a switch from negative to positive and break a pattern.

I wish you great conversations, supportive influences, and a fabulous day. Choose well those around you.

With Love!


Mike Vacanti
Mike Vacanti
Mike believes, “It’s more than what we accomplish – it’s who we become along the journey!” His mission is to Lift Others, helping people discover their potential, embrace a growth mindset and achieve at inspired levels. Mike has transformed businesses and inspired people to perform at levels they didn’t think possible. Mike's known as a great listener and collaborative, creative problem solver. For generating speed and confidence through innovation and transformation. His current endeavors as advisor, consultant, and keynote speaker, are shifting the belief in what is possible and opening hearts to a better vision and future of business around the globe. Sharing his extensive career of invention, reinvention and highly complex business combinations, he consistently delivers on the belief that the heart of any organization is People – People drive results. Mike has released his new book, BELIEVERSHIP: The Superpower Beyond Leadership, and is the Founder of HumansFirst, a global community of positive change catalysts. Following many years in advertising and marketing, He launched early-stage start-ups & led M&A initiatives for publicly traded tech companies. Five-times he was thrust into the chaos of transformation and helped people navigate the doubt, fear, and chaos of significant change. His teams exceeded expectations, consistently beat the challenge, learned a lot and had some fun.

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  1. Awwww Mike! I cannot tell you how much this means to me and also how much I resonate with it. How did I get to be so lucky to meet you and all the people around me is a question I ask myself pretty frequently! Especially during challenging times this is my biggest treasure. I cannot express my gratitude enough. I look at people at end of life and all they say is about their precious relationships and I am so happy that I have you and amazing people like you in my life. You are a special human being my friend.

  2. Oh Mr V, firstly thx for including the podcast which now includes our collaboration since Ep 100, but this comment “I’m lucky, yes. But “lucky” by choice.

    This reflection reminds of Richard Bransons quote in his book ‘The Virgin Way.’ “Luck is in the intersection between hard work and opportunity.” You have out in a LOT to be where you are and the opportunity that presents itself is both for you and the many.

    The only thing that is truly lucky is winning the lottery, everything carries an element of intention with it, somewhere down the line.

    Thank you for being you and I am grateful for you.

  3. I love this for so many reasons, Mike! This resonates in a way that I’m not sure I have words to articulate. Thank you for your continued support, optimism, hope, and belief that we can all do better, create better and be better. I am going to take your challenge and catch myself in those moments of silent judgment. You just made me a little better and I’m a lot grateful! Thank you, my friend!