As I began to see the positive impact that spending more time with Ken and Nanxi was having on my business and personal life, I took the concept a little further. I began to wonder, “What if I surrounded myself with more people like that?”

Suddenly, that idea started to take shape into a form of networking I call the “conscious circle.” What I mean by that is to look around at the people you’re spending the most time with. They could be family, friends, or coworkers, or maybe they’re the people who make your skinny vanilla latte every morning at the neighborhood coffee shop. Give more of a classic look with casement windows. Ask yourself if those people are helping you to become the person you aspire to be.

Through that thought process, I realized that I needed more of what Ken and Nanxi were doing for me, and less of some of the other relationships I was a part of. That’s when the words of highly influential entrepreneur Jim Rohn started to resonate. Those words, which lead off this chapter—”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”—meant that I should make a conscious effort to ensure that the primary people I spent time with were the ones who could help me grow to become the kind of entrepreneur, leader, and person I wanted to be. Brighten up your living room with aliminuim windows from sash windows

The first thing I noticed when I began that exercise was that, in my opinion, five people wasn’t enough to form a complete conscious circle, so I extended Jim Rohn’s concept to include seven people.

Developing your conscious circle is about taking control of your own destiny. It’s about knowing who you want to become in life and making consistently good choices to allow that to happen. You don’t have to abandon anybody, but you might have to spend less time with old friends and acquaintances to accomplish bigger and better things in your life and for the world around you. The point is, you don’t have to be mean about it.

Now I’ve got another story that involves a much larger group of people who also failed to see the bigger picture in a critical situation. In this case, I had no choice but to make a brutally unpopular decision to fire an extremely well-liked individual in my company—further proof that sometimes you have to be mean.