Freelancers and Entrepreneurs — Let’s List Our Early Influences: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Recently I took part in a lively tele-seminar that was presented by a panel of renowned Internet successes. These four are known for their lucrative on-line businesses, their sincerity, honesty, integrity and obvious desire to help others succeed. One of the panelists made a statement that inspired me to think about and write this article, along with using the theme of “Influence” for my upcoming e-newsletter, Portfolio Potpourri.

Alexandria Brown, the E-Zine Queen, said that she wasn’t sure where she heard it but to paraphrase, “As people, we are the average of those people we hang around with.” This started me thinking about those who have and still are influencing my life, my business and me. It also made me think of other influences that have directed my journey. In this article, I share thoughts, experiences, ideas and questions that will help you on your successful journey as a free agent, independent professional and freelancer.

Early influences — the good, the bad and the ugly — must be addressed. You and I both know people who dwell on the past. They talk about how their parents messed them up; their friends as they grew up were a “terrible” influence; they had poor teachers, few or no privileges and a continual struggle for everything they wanted or needed.

I submit to you that no matter how good or bad our pasts were, we can find nuggets of influence that will still prove to be positive strengths and helps today. The success stories abound about those who grew up in poverty and are now millionaires, those who were raised by illiterate parents and today have their PhDs, and those who have faced incredible challenges health wise, yet keep on plugging along with determination.

I value making lists. Look way back and make a list of all of the hard times, obstacles and challenges in your past. Next to each, write how these unsavory experiences influenced you for the better. Usually, it is the obstacles and failures that we face that spur us on to greatness. When you finish this exercise, you will be surprised by how much better those past times will appear to be. Now, for the fun part!

Make a list of all of the good influences you enjoyed in the past. Here are some of the questions to answer:

  • What are some of the lessons my parent(s) taught me that have helped over the years?
  • What teacher made the most impact on my future? How and why?
  • Who are the friends that I still think of with love and how did they affect my life and influence me?
  • What books and movies did I love as a child? Why?
  • What games and sports did I pursue and what did I learn from participating?
  • What did I want to be when “I grew up?” Do I still have that goal, or am I already living it? Should I be?
  • What are the very best and happiest memories from my childhood? Why?

By now, you should be re-evaluating the past influences in your life and the ways you can make them work to your advantage today. What have you learned that you can use to enliven your business and bolster your success?