There is a Bruno in all of our lives. They’re the fellow or gal who makes our blood boil just by being around them. The Bruno I know, who lives on the streets, is a wild man with out of control hair and behavior. He usually lumbers up to any line where food or goodies are being handed out and demands his share and more.
Nothing seems to satisfy him week in and week out, year in and year out. He has a permanent grimace on his face and shows his disappointment for life in general by grunting and stomping off in a huff after any encounter. Folks around him just expect this negative attitude from years of experience in dealing with him.
But miracles can happen, people can change, and apparently being around others who are kind, positive, and respectful can have a ripple effect. One day after years of grumbling and grunting, Bruno got in line peaceably waiting to be served food from the back of my truck.
When I explained to everyone that I had only a dozen sandwiches, a bag of fruit, and some bottled water and had to give each person a half sandwich, they understood and were grateful for what I had to share.
Expecting the usual disgruntled Bruno, I was stunned when at his turn he said, “May I please have half a sandwich?” Absorbing the marked change in him, I slowly handed him a bottle of water and said, “I am sorry, the fresh fruit is gone.” He smiled and said, “That’s okay, thank you for this.”
Overjoyed at his 360 shift, I hugged him with gusto and said, “Bruno, something wonderful has happened to you out here.” He was puzzled. I continued, “You have become gentlemanly just like the rest.” His street chums did the modeling and he became a new man with a much brighter future.
So when I am feeling “Bruno-ish”, what works? Sure, at times being alone is the only solution when I am fighting my way out of the doldrums or feeling reactionary. But what really works for me is thinking about the circle of extraordinary people around me and imagining how they would manage a sticky situation or muddle through everyday messes.
Motivated professionals hoping to move up the ladder of success often read books and blogs searching for leadership tips suggesting how to be the best they can be. A number of bloggers and leadership coaches have been taken by Jim Rohn’s simple observation “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Rohn who died in 2009, was a self-help sage, inspiring people to improve their lives and their businesses. The author of The Art of Exceptional Living and a nationally recognized quote-master, Rohn believed that in our personal and professional lives we grow or not depending upon the people “we hang out with”; their ideas, attitudes, and interactions influence us more than we can ever imagine.
So is this what happened to Bruno? I think so. From years of living with a core of gracious homeless people and absorbing their ways of being, he changed, becoming like them in attitudes and acts. This conversion probably snuck up on him. I bet there were no aha moments or stern lectures from his fellow street people, it was just a human environmental transformation that happens to all of us.
What a truth to grapple with— our parents were right! Friends and associates do matter. Their outlooks and ethics rub off on us, which can be scary or enlightening depending upon how we let this insight affect our lives. We all have the opportunity to be saints or sinners. Which do we choose?
And more importantly, whom do we choose to emulate, which can dictate the outcome? Conversely, the circle of five means that we too are powerful influencers on those in our circles whether we are boss, employee, peer, parent, friend, or family member.
Like Bruno’s compatriots, we need no special bag of tricks. Our behavior is what counts. So now I’m going to think about those circles of five in my life. Who is influencing me? Who am I impacting? Heady stuff!