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Under Your Influence

I will not be the product of my environment. My environment will be the product of me. (I think the above is a quote from The Departed, so don’t give me too much credit. I’m pretty sure I stole it)

But think about it. How often have you heard that someone is a product of their environment? How often have you thought: I am a product of my environment?

I’ll start: I’ve usually blamed most of my shortcomings or difficulties on my upbringing, genetics, geography…stuff like that.

But I usually take credit–or give credit to other people–for my successes. For the positives. I rarely find myself saying, “I finally got into the right environment.” I’m more likely to say, “Holy cow, I’m so awesome,” whether it’s true or not.

I believe that people who are truly forces for good have the potential to influence their environment more than to be influenced by it.

Does it work both ways? Sure. Influence isn’t always a good thing, depending on who is wielding it. Some people create paradises. Some create smoking wastelands. Feel free to take those literally, or consider them metaphors:)

As usual, I’m going to end with my pitch for vigilant self-scrutiny and bringing about good things whenever possible: just by being you.

My environment will be a product of me. My goal is that that is always a good thing.


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  • Hilary March 26, 2010, 1:26 am

    Hi Josh .. well done .. it does sound as though things are coming together for you – and you have made that happen.

    An example to us all .. enjoy the Spring .. All the best – Hilary

  • Amy Harrison March 26, 2010, 3:38 am

    If I was in the states, I’d be there!

    I remember reading in ben Stein’s Bunkhouse Logice, that there is someone, somewhere with the same background and upbringing who has done what you want to do.

    That’s always stayed with me when I’ve thought about whining about my environment.

  • Greg March 26, 2010, 4:23 am

    There are some who would make the argument that by conquering those same factors that contribute to your challenges, you turn them into strengths. Your “forces for good.”

    I have a few close friends that have overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges from childhood, to be successful members of society, and I have the utmost respect for them.

  • I love this:

    “I believe that people who are truly forces for good have the potential to influence their environment more than to be influenced by it.”

    I had never really thought about the fact that I DO have the power to influence my environment. This universe we life in is nothing but a flow of never ending feedback from all sides, why MY feedback create waves?

    I am going to write:
    “My environment will be a product of me” on a sticky note.

    Thanks Josh.

  • Joy Tanksley March 26, 2010, 5:23 am

    Nice thoughts, Josh.

    It’s interesting that you said you tend to blame most of your short comings on environment but you take credit for your successes. I read a study a few years ago that said that is typically true for men, and women tend to be the opposite! Women tend to take credit for short comings and think their successes are due to luck or circumstance. Just had to put that out there for anyone who might recognize that very unhelpful tendancy in themselves.

    Keep up the good work, Josh. Stick it to your environment! We have the POWER and RESPONSIBILITY to CREATE OUR LIVES. So crazy freakin’ cool.

  • Eric | Eden Journal March 26, 2010, 5:29 am

    I feel that Personal Responsibility is a very important part of our lives. We have to take responsibility for the good and the bad. I see too many people sad because the world dealt them a bad hand. Take responsibility and you become the dealer, and we all know the house always wins. 🙂

    Josh, let me know when the Tourettes tours makes it to Florida. If you make it down here, I may even try to wrangle some theme park tickets for you.

  • Boris Bachmann March 26, 2010, 6:16 am

    A speaking tour? Book signings? I’m very curious!

  • Srinivas Rao March 26, 2010, 8:44 am


    I hope that you do host an event some day and I’d definitely love to see that. In terms of environment and influence I’m beginning to realize that we can start to “shape the matrix” as we see fit. Looking at where I was at a year ago at this time and where I am today, it blows my mind that when we decide to take control and not blame the circumstances, we make quantum leaps.

  • Heather March 26, 2010, 9:43 am

    DUDE! This just plain rocks! ALWAYS! Thanks for this! 🙂

  • Justin Matthews March 26, 2010, 10:23 am

    You know the information and promotion of Tourettes syndrome is great. You are really getting it out of the stereotype of people just screaming profanities all of the time. I’ll admit, that used to be all I knew about tourettes. Now I understand much more about it and it is all from this site!
    Good Work Josh

  • Jason March 26, 2010, 11:04 am

    Josh: Beautifully written.

    Did you ever read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”? It’s still a downer for me to think about his research on the huge impact of circumstances on success.. but then again, that’s the part you can’t control.

    It only makes sense to focus on the part that you can.

  • Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire March 26, 2010, 11:41 am


    I’m sure you you’ve already read it, but if you haven’t, get a copy of “An Anthropologist on Mars” by neurologist Oliver Sacks. That is one of the most amazing chronologies of great stories about psychological phenominae, including a cool story about a surgeon/pilot with Tourettes.

    There is no spoon!

    Whatever you think about the majority of the time becomes your reality.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

    • Josh Hanagarne March 26, 2010, 2:56 pm

      Joshua, I actually haven’t, although I’ve seen the book a million times and I’m an Oliver Sacks fan. You’ve convinced me.

      • Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire March 30, 2010, 7:58 am

        Well I guess it’s a trade then. I just got a copy of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for my birthday, so we will see how that one goes as well.

  • Michael Stagg | My II Sense March 26, 2010, 12:15 pm

    Hey Josh!

    First, congrats on the upcoming events. If you hit Chicago, I’m definitely there!

    As for being a product of your environment, I’m with you – it’s a mutual relationship. Whether or not you allow your environment to influence you to a point of attaching to its perceived negative influences is a matter of choice. All of life is really.

    If I grow up witnessing my dad beating my mom everyday I can either choose to become abusive in my relationships or choose to rise above what I experienced and be the opposite of the example my dad showed me (kinder, more compassionate, etc.).

    Conversely, I could have grown up in a very loving home, received all the attention and nurturing I need and still decide I want to [insert any perceived negative lifestyle or choice here].

    I use to blame my circumstances on externals all the time too. Thankfully, I’ve learned that “if it is to be it is up to me” and let go of blaming people and things when what I want doesn’t happen.

    Awesome post Josh, thank you and please do keep us posted on your event!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 26, 2010, 2:57 pm

      Thanks Michael. How’s life treating you?

      • Michael Stagg | My II Sense March 26, 2010, 3:27 pm

        Life is fantabulous! Thanks for asking! I know you are living it up as well so I don’t need to ask you. 🙂

  • We Fly Spitfires March 26, 2010, 5:15 pm

    I’m really tempted to read the book although, as I’m a big IT geek in real life, I think the computer hacking side of it will just annoy me. I always end up rolling my eyes and muttering things like “that’s sooo unrealistic”. I imagine it’s the same way New York cops feel when they want TV shows about New York cops.

  • We Fly Spitfires March 26, 2010, 5:17 pm

    Rats, I submitted my comment under the wrong post! It’s for your book review on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. How embarrassing. Just when I was blowing my own trumpet about being an IT geek too…

    • Josh Hanagarne March 26, 2010, 5:18 pm

      And just for that, I’m not going to fix the comment. You must learn humility, Gordon:) And save your time for the book that’s coming out next week!

  • Andrew Frenette March 26, 2010, 9:09 pm

    Thanks for the pick-me-up at the end of a long and frustrating day, Josh. I needed that.

  • Amy March 26, 2010, 10:24 pm

    Dead on. How often we forget that everything is interdependent. We influence our environment, just as much as it influences us.

    We have a choice. We create our reality. We can choose how we respond to our environment.

  • ami March 27, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Josh: this reminds me of a Chuck Norris joke:

    When Chuck Norris jumps in water, he doesn’t get wet. Water gets Chuck Norris.

    Thought provoking post. Why can’t we all be Chuck Norris?

    • We Fly Spitfires March 27, 2010, 2:52 pm

      I prefer Jean Claude Van Damme 😀

      Nice analogy though!

  • jenn March 27, 2010, 6:45 pm

    Love this! Nuff said.

  • Dave Doolin March 27, 2010, 9:22 pm

    “I’ve usually blamed most of my shortcomings or difficulties on my upbringing, genetics, geography…stuff like that.”

    Well, it’s true.

    I just read the Wikipedia entry on Steve Miller. Dayam. Had no idea he started out with Butterfield, then played with a whole cast of the usual suspects from that era.

    But the killer: Les Paul was his Godfather.

    Same sort of thing with the Zep/Clapton crowd when they were hanging out in Laurel Canyon. Unreal lineup of musicians.

    Here’s the deal: they didn’t all get famous by themselves.

    They All Got Famous Together. All At Once.

    Sounds like a plan.
    Who’s in?

  • vfb March 28, 2010, 12:43 pm

    This reads a lot like The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Have you read that one yet? I think you’d like it.

  • Mistina Picciano March 28, 2010, 4:06 pm

    Fabulous, thought-provoking and inspiring post, Josh. You’re right on so many levels. We cannot change our environment or our circumstances – only how we react to them.

    You have a fascinating story, and I look forward to learning more. Perhaps we’ll meet on your book tour!