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Associations is the middle level of the GAP Inspiration Model. Before it was your Preservation Level, where you worked on the foundational elements of future success. That included stress management, organization, time management, etc. The goal of the Preservation Level was to develop your purpose.

After Associations come Growth where you will work on breaking out of your box. That is where you develop inspiration that fuels your growth in all areas. In this article we will focus on your Association Level, where you develop your passion.

Associations is a critical element to your growth. It binds the Preservation and Growth levels creating a strong structure for your continued success.

Associations are defined as the people, attitudes and cultures you surround yourself with. Those associations fuel your passion by supporting you, encouraging you and pushing you. They extend from your home life, to friends to work environments.

Associations are about developing and driving your personal passion to fuel inspiration. You need to constantly evaluate the associations you surround yourself with and determine if they are positively impacting your growth by supporting your passions. It is critically important that you make sure your associations are positive. Negative people and negative environments, like a toxic work culture, can have a profoundly negative impact on your growth. You can try to power through it with a positive attitude and even try to change others, but in the end you will be drained and your growth will suffer.

When evaluating associations you need to validate their impact on your passions and growth journey. It is not all about rainbows and sunshine, sometimes those that push us out of our comfort zone are exactly what we need. Surrounding yourself by people that just agree and say things are rosy are not always the best for your growth. Take these steps to evaluate the health of your Association Level.

Get yourself into the right mindset. You control your mindset, you control how it changes, you control what impacts it. The first step is to get yourself into a positive mindset and truly believe in growth and change. This is the start of creating a positive passion that will help drive growth.

Having an authentic positive mindset is critical. If you cannot develop an authentic positive mindset, revisit your Preservation Level.

Evaluate your inner ring. These are the people you have close interactions with. They include friends, family, possibly social media contacts. They are the ones that have the greatest impact on your mindset and growth.

  • Make sure they support your passion. They know who you are and what you want to achieve and help you along the journey.
  • Make sure they are not adding drama or focusing on them. You will help others in your inner circle as they help you. However, they should not be a fountain of drama or continued focus on them.
  • Make sure they are pushing you. Family and partners at the Preservation Level support you all the time. The Association level is for those that support you, but also challenge you to be better.

Evaluate your outer ring. These are the people you interact with frequently and are usually required interactions. Those include co-workers, work culture, friends of friends, extended family, etc. They have less of a direct impact on your mindset, but have a significant impact over time.

  • Make sure that they support your passion. This is not as direct of a support as your inner circle but should be positive or neutral.
  • Make changes to your outer ring as needed. If you are in a toxic work culture or a toxic leader, change your job. You may not be able to up and quite, but you can make steps to change your circumstances.
  • If you have a negative association that is isolated to one person and cannot be changed, use them as a source of learning and inspiration. Even negative people can be a source of learning and growth with the right mindset.

Positive associations are one of the most critical elements when it comes to your growth. You can fail in other areas, but if you have a positive support structure you can overcome those failures and challenges. Being very deliberate with your associations really can be the difference of success or failure.

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