Those you surround yourself with can either help your cause or hinder it. Be they family members, friends, colleagues, or otherwise. The network of influence you live within, day-in and day-out,  affects who you are as a person and how you respond to the world.

You want to align yourself with people who help you soar, not people who bring you down.

That’s not to say you should drop relationships, but it’s important to know who your greatest allies are in achieving your goals and making you feel supported.

Having a solid support network is a gamechanger.

How do I know if someone helps me soar?

You’ll be able to recognize a positive influence because they’ll push you to be better, do more, and support your journey. They don’t employ language that downplays or belittles you or other people. They’re hard working, and hold you to high–but reachable–standards. They’re capable people who have their own goals, plans, and desires. Their self esteem comes from within, not from outside of themselves.

And, a key thing to remember, is that they challenge you.

To quote Michael Dell of the Dell computer company: “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room…”

You want to surround yourself with people who offer you new ways to think about your ideas. And doing the same for them–being a sounding board, offering suggestions, or giving them the resources to succeed–will help you succeed as well.

Constructive criticism or thoughtful advice can really help you grow.

But what you don’t want are people who pull you down. You know the type.

How do I deal with people who bring me down?

It’s not always easy. But occupying your time with worthwhile pursuits will keep those that can bring you down at bay. It’s good to have down-time to hang out with your friends, for example, but be mindful of people who lack ambition or distract you from what you need to do.

If you’re moving on up, they probably won’t tag along for the difficult, self-actualizing challenges. Like a networking event, a club you wanted to join, a new gym routine, or anything that improves the self.

People who can bring you down or distract you won’t go the extra mile to follow you where they can’t fly. So stay busy, and focus on your goals.

Another suggestion is to simply surround yourself with more positive, affirming go-getters. The people who try to pull you down won’t want to be around people that push others up.

Practicing mindfulness and self-awareness also helps. Keep your eyes on the prize, work towards being your best, and leave the negative distractions behind.

By surrounding yourself with people who inspire you, that help and challenge you, you’ll fly further than you ever thought possible.

In order to be your very best self, you need to surround yourself with positive influences. People that will help you as much as you’ll help them. People who lift you up and make you all the better for knowing them.

It takes a great team to raise a great leader. And you can start building that team, right now, today.