The Person Next to You is Your Greatest Influence There are all kinds of stories circulating about poor leadership. A boss who only cares about profits and will cut corners in order to have a good quarter. A coach who only cares about winning and will tear down players, hoping to scare them into obedience in order to personally shine. A religious leader who cares more about being perceived as someone who is smart and has the answers rather than someone who serves the people in his or her congregation. What's interesting about bad leadership is that it almost always trickles downward. A selfish boss is more likely to create a selfish environment. An egotistical coach is more likely to create an environment of players who chase ego boosts. A pastor who just wants to be right is more likely to create an environment of congregants who judge others. On the flip side, a selfless boss is more likely to create a selfless environment. A relationship-focused coach is more likely to create relationship-focused players. And a servant-hearted spiritual leader is more likely to create servant-hearted congregants. Each of our lives unfold within different environments where there are different leaders. These environments and leaders are affected by systems. Have you ever considered the different dynamics within the environments and systems in which your life unfolds? Have you ever considered what might be trickling down in these different environments? Have you ever considered some of the systemic issues at play in these different environments? Have you ever considered how your environments might be affecting your mentality, emotions, and disposition in life? To take things further, within these different environments are people. And as social creatures, we are naturally affected and influenced by the people in our environments. Have you ever considered who is next to you? Consider the people who you are going through life beside. People who you spend significant amounts of time with. People who you talk to everyday. At work. At home. At the bar. In your book club. People around you can influence you in both a positive and negative way. Your best friend could be your worst enemy because of his or her negative influence. Your worst enemy could become your greatest ally because of his or her positive influence. Your own family could be the source of your greatest haters. A stranger could be your greatest supporter. It’s important to evaluate how those in your environment are impacting your own mental, emotional, and spiritual direction in life. And it's also important to consider how you are impacting theirs. What is trickling down onto others from your own attitude, actions, and approach to life? In order to experience a deep sense of purpose in life, it's vital that we not only journey inward to understand ourselves, but that we also gain awareness for all that is around us. The people around us—those who are connected to our lives—are most likely the ones who will influence us the most and are most likely the ones who we have an opportunity to positively influence. Learn how to positively influence your environment here. Take a step back. Evaluate the people and systems in your life. Ask yourself the hard questions in order to gain an awareness for the different dynamics at play. This awareness will help to propel you into a more proactive way of living and leave your reactive ways behind. It will help you to see more clearly and dismiss the notions (or the people) that do not impact you in a positive or healthy way. It will help you to consider your own role within these different environments and systems, and inspire you to be a good leader, right where you are, in order to serve others and to positively influence their lives. Just as others are next to you, you are also next to others. This is an opportunity to do something that most never even do: invest in the hearts of others through love, service, and connection so that they will go on to leave a positive imprint on others in their different environments. That's what leadership and purpose is all about.