437 | Pause and Reflect Episode: Choosing Our Influences

What are the influences that you’re currently choosing in your life? Choosing our influences is vital for personal growth and development.

You know, we all have various influences that are currently at work in our lives, shaping our thought patterns, habits and behaviors, and ultimately our character. The tricky part can be discerning the effect they’re having on us, and what to do about them!

The theme for the month of September has been influence, and in this final episode of the month (wrapping up the 3rd Quarter of 2021) the coaches get together to reflect on the influences that they’ve allowed in their lives – delving deep into both the positive and the negative effects of those choices.

The good news is that we can accept or reject the influences in our lives, it’s a powerful choice. I hope this episode helps you to choose wisely!


Aaron West, Joel Fortner, Chris LoCurto

Chris LoCurto  00:00

The impact of the influences we choose; the good, the bad and the ugly. That is coming up next.

Chris LoCurto  00:17

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show, where we discuss leadership and life, and discover that business is what you do, not who you are. Welcome to the show, folks. I hope you guys are having a fabulous day, wherever you are. We are having a fabulous day in studio because we got-and I say, "we" because we have some great folks in studio. Welcome, guys.

Joel Fortner  00:40

Hey, glad to be back.

Aaron West  00:42

Hey, glad to be here.

Chris LoCurto  00:44

Our coaches are on today. Well, we're in studio Joel and I, and Aaron is in his studio in crossville, Tennessee.

Aaron West  00:52

Amazing technology.

Chris LoCurto  00:53

Shout out to crossville, Tennessee, and our three listeners there.

Joel Fortner  00:59

Aaron, his wife, and one of his daughters. I want to know which daughter isn't listening.

Chris LoCurto  01:04

That's right. Why don't we have four, Aaron? Come on. So today, we are talking about influence, influence in general. And if you have not listened to 435, How Influence Shapes your Character, you want to make sure you go back to that. The theme for this month has been influence.

And we've talked about that for a few weeks. And now as the coaches, we get to come together and dive deep into both the positive effects and also the negative effects of the choices that we have made when it comes to influences. So by definition, influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character development or behavior of someone else.

So when we come back, we're going to open up a bit and get really vulnerable talking about where we've gotten wrong with the influences that we've allowed into our lives and where we think that we may actually be getting it right. So we're going to talk about that when we come back right after this.

Joel Fortner  02:07

Hey, it's Joel Fortner here. I'm the Vice President of Leadership Development on Chris's team, and I oversee our Next Level Mastermind business coaching program. Most business owners and leaders lack a clear path to succeed in business.

They question whether they're making the right decisions, if they're focusing on the right things to really grow their business. If this is you, you need a coach in your life. Coaches help you make better decisions, navigate uncertainty, lead more effectively, and grow your business without sacrificing your life and your family. In their first year, our clients typically see an average of 67% increase in gross revenue and an average of 138% increase in net profit, and regained hours of time.

Our clients stay in the program for three and a half years simply because of the results they get. So if you're ready to run your business at the next level, and see the growth you've been wanting, then visit chrislocurto.com/mastermind. Again, chrisocurto.com/mastermind today.

Chris LoCurto  03:08

Alright, so we are talking influence. Let's dive into a few questions for the coaches, who wants to roll first?

Joel Fortner  03:15

Yeah, I'll go.

Chris LoCurto  03:15

You gonna go first? Okay.

Aaron West  03:17

Joel drew the short straw.

Chris LoCurto  03:20

Joel pulled the short straw?

Joel Fortner  03:21

You paused for a brief second and I was like, I'll do it.

Chris LoCurto  03:24

Eh might as well. High I jump in. It's the high I, there you go. So we've got a few questions that we're going to go through. The first one is, where have you seen the effect of negative influences in your life? Ready, go!

Joel Fortner  03:36

All through my life. I was born. And then I was in kindergarten, no when I really-when I reflect back on life, especially with what we teach here in terms of root system of understanding your past your influences that you allow in and experiences and I especially think about from childhood you know that I remember not only do you have family influence and the things your parents struggle with, your sibling struggle with, there's a lot of influence there.

But the thing that comes to mind when I think about this is that even my neighbors I grew up with that I remember my parents cautioning me about hey, this family right here-

Joel Fortner  03:46

I feel like a, "I didn't listen" is coming in here.

Joel Fortner  04:07

Well, there is some of that, but it's like I think as a parent I think they really struggled with like letting-like okay, we're gonna let them play with the kids or just however, like not know exactly what to do. But I wonder, I should ask my parents about you know, my mom, my father passed away in January for those who don't know, but to ask her like, what did you think about who we grew up with?

Thinking about Dusty and Danny and then other neighbors around us looking back with wiser eyes today. I can see the toxicity that was in the home-and I'm talking severe toxicity. And it did lead to some very bad things that happened in my life.

Chris LoCurto  05:06

Do you think those guys are listening on the show right now?

Joel Fortner  05:07

I'm sorry?

Chris LoCurto  05:08

Do you think those guys are listening on the show right now?

Joel Fortner  05:09

Very possible. I hope that they are, I hope that they're getting positive influence listening to the show. But man, I think about stuff like that all the way forward into who I went to school with, all the way up through college into my 20s of looking at the amount of negative and toxic influence that I chose to surround myself with, especially in my teen and early adult years, of how many really poor decisions that it led to in my life that thank praise God, I get to use as teachable moments for people that I coach and I train and people who come through Next Level Life today. But that's where it all started with me.

Aaron West  05:52

Yeah, it's so interesting you talk about those things, Joel because they echo a lot of my story as well. And even as a person growing up, you know, I grew up in a small town, my dad was the head of HR at mainly the really the only factory in our town. My mom worked in the court system. So guess what questions always got? "Who were their parents?" Because my parents probably knew them.

They either work for my dad, or they'd been in court with my mom. And so it was one of those where, for me a lot of the questions of, who are the negative influences in your life, who are the negative influences that have an effect on you? And so I was always very cautious about friends. But there were some friends that had a tendency to get me in trouble. And I went along with it a number of times, and, you know, even going through-

Chris LoCurto  06:42

I love the victim mentality right there from Aaron, "They got me in trouble."

Aaron West  06:47

You heard that right, folks, they got me in trouble. And, yeah, I'm not taking any personal responsibility for that at all. But what what is really interesting for me is the impact that, you know, I have lost both of my parents. And so for me having three older brothers, that have had very positive influences on my life, but also have had very negative influences on my life. And even sometimes not even realizing the negative influence of a close family member.

Even until just a few years ago, and going through Next Level Life with Chris and talking through and realizing that the negative influence that we all shared with each other as brothers together around some situations. And not even recognizing it as such. But now looking back and realizing, gosh, this was something that was holding us back as individuals. Yeah, that's pretty powerful.

Joel Fortner  07:44

That's such a powerful thing you bring up Aaron. And as you think about the influence you have in your life and the things you go through, is how does it kind of mess you up? How do you become toxic in the process? And then how do you contribute negatively? How do you become the negative influencer to those around you? That's the thing today, that's the like the, oh my gosh, that's the part I probably hate the worst.

Chris LoCurto  08:07

It's so funny. Because when you started Joel, I realized we have three former people pleasers. We have three recovering people pleasers. And it's so funny because I'm like, I bet you we all have relatively close answers to this, about negative influences in our life.

And I think for me, so I'll speak for me, the effects of negative influences in my life. And I have to take, you know, responsibility for this, I was trying so much to make people happy that, you know, I would allow that negative influence to be something because I thought, Oh, if I can make this person happy, then I'm worthy, right? It's the very stuff that we talked about in the stuff that we teach, is that I probably allowed so much negative influence.

There's a combination, there's certain negative influence that was thrust upon me. It's, you know, without going into deep information, there's certain things that it's just, this is happening, there's nothing you're going to do about it, right? And then there's the people pleaser of, "Man, even if I go do this thing with that person, then I'll really be liked. And then I will feel really good about myself and surely I'll be something."

And I think everybody can probably relate to that. I believe everybody listening to the show can probably relate to that. Later on in life when God took a two by four upside my head and is like, "Knock it off. Do you see what you're doing?" That was super impactful for me, and things shifted. Where instead of me being someone who sought out, gosh, I never really sought out negative influence, right?

It was just, if it was there, and I can make somebody happy in the process, then there you go. But I was, you know, I was a pretty good kid. Didn't get in trouble, didn't do a whole lot of you know, bad junk. But later on in life, when I look at the negative influences, interestingly enough, it was in a reverse for a long time where it's now I'm trying to help people, and still not recognizing the need for healthy boundaries, the need for, you know, understanding when somebody is trying to use the daylights out of you with their negativity, you know, and so sometimes, you know, you try and help, help, help and the person just soaks it up, and then everything else becomes worse in their life.

And then that becomes more influence, more influence, more influence. So I think the next question I'm going to ask, I'll just roll into this, and then yall jump in. The second question is, how did you finally realize they were negative and put a stop to them? I think, for me, when I started recognizing how it was impacting my life in a negative way. So it could be times of having conversations with somebody. And in the, "Alright, listen, I'm gonna do everything I can to help you help you help you."

And then all of a sudden, it's like, you know, it's not working out for them, or whatever, and it gets turned back the other direction. "Oh, wait a second. I don't think I like this." Or another piece, which is interesting, has also been people that were friends that when we were friends, or close friends, life was great. They're doing things great. They make different decisions in life.

And then it's this attempt to draw me that direction, not so much in a, "Hey, I want you to come and make bad choices like I'm making, but affirm my choices." Right? Does that make sense? Like you can you can see some of those people that were great, great, great. And then all of a sudden, they're making bad choices. And then it's like, "Hey, why don't you come with me?"

And it's like, whup. No, I don't think so. I will help you out of that." I will point out that it's a bad choice. But I think when I started seeing it wearing on me, personally, that's when I started going, "This is knowing where I want to be." Anything that threatened my relationship with God, I think that's when it started to pop out is, you really need to rethink this process.

Joel Fortner  12:38

Yeah, I think, gosh, I'm sitting here reflecting as you share that, Chris, and I'm thinking about, for how many years did I live life that it I could recognize-this is the thing about this question. It's like I could recognize that not everything happening here was good, and that there was negative influence. But I didn't care.

Because the acceptance of the people, was more important than the influence I was going with is like, if I was accepted by, you know, certain crowds of people, the people that were more popular on all the way up through high school. It wasn't until college that life really started to change in for me in that way.

And God started putting other people in my life that a lot of even even what I had my life day-to-day today directly links back to half my life ago, with much positive influence and started coming into it in college, but up into that point-I mean, I remember it, I could recognize this kind of decision making, the partying it was, but I didn't care, because it was the acceptance that outweighed the influence. And that is a dangerous place to be.

Chris LoCurto  13:52

Yeah. And I think we need to make a very clarifying statement here. We're not talking about our own bad choices. Listen, I have made stupid choices in life, I have made you know, that's one of the things that I'll tell people through Next Level Life, I am glad that I have come to a place to be very blunt, and blatant about how I have screwed up in life. I've made bad choices. I've hurt people, I've done stupid.

We're not talking about,have we made stupid choices. Oh my gosh, tons. We're talking about the negative influences and how we've allowed that to be a part. So I definitely want to separate that out. Because otherwise, we can sound like a few angels in here. And that's not you know, that's not true. We've done stupid, there's no ifs, ands or buts about it. If we hadn't done stupid we couldn't do the things that we do now and teach people and guide them and direct them. So we're only focusing on the the negative influence side of this conversation. So hopefully that's understandable.

Aaron West  14:53

Yeah, and I'll jump over to the part I was sharing earlier about my brothers and just that piece, you know, for me I didn't realize that it was a negative influence for the longest time. I mean, for 35 plus years in my life, I didn't know that it was a negative influence. And then, you know, going through and going through the process of, and again, I'm not trying to place an ad for Next Level Life here or anything.

But going through that process of Next Level Life, for me really opened my eyes to see the effect that it was having on me, and on my family, and on my kids, and on my brothers. And so for me the whole thing of how do you stop that is, is there was a hard conversation that happened. And what my high S personality goes, "Oh, this is conflict, this is gonna be bad, this is gonna be rough. I don't know if I can handle this."

All of that kind of stuff. And the reality of it was, it was a recognition by all of us to go, gosh, this is something that we've all been struggling with and never realized, yeah, let's stop this. And it suddenly became an accountability thing around it, "Hey, we're not gonna talk about that. We're not going to bring that up. We're not going to have that discussion." And it's really helped us to chill out that negative influence we had on each other that we didn't realize we were doing.

Chris LoCurto  16:10

So powerful.

Joel Fortner  16:11

Yeah, I think just before we move on here to the next question, I think to even answer a little bit more of this, how did you put a stop to them that- Aaron, you reminded me of this, when you said that when you recognized that was negative influence, there's so much power in recognizing, okay, here's the person, this is what they're doing. Here's the negative influence, these are the surface level responses that I'm getting.

And you realize even, how do I tend to play into that? How do I make it worse? Where do I not have healthy boundaries? Where do I get caught up in it? And when you can have the perspective to see, no, this is just that person, this is what they struggle with, that fast forward through a lot of information that would come through Next Nevel Life, is you learn not to take things personally, and you watching you observe, this is just that person being this way.

Where in the past, for instance, one example in my life is that I would get drawn into it, like into a fight or into a battle. And then now look who's being toxic: me. And so when you can have that perspective of being able to realize like, okay, what's going on here? That is one of many ways that you actually stop that influence from coming into your life.

Chris LoCurto  17:19

Yeah, and I don't know how I don't take a god turn here. For me, I think my relationship with God, when I started realizing that I thought I had a relationship with God. And what I really had was a relationship with a belief system. When I started creating that relationship with God, that really, God showed me, "Listen, you're only here for a short period of time. You're with me for eternity if you choose to be. So choose wisely."

Right? How do you want the influences to be impacting your life? And I think that was, for me a big piece of saying, "Crud, I got to push a bunch of this not a bunch, but what's negative influence in my life away, and create what we kind of talk about around here of circles." We all do. Here.

I don't know if- a lot of people don't have this. But for us, like I've got my inner circle of healthy people. These are healthy people, it doesn't mean that they don't screw up, that doesn't mean you know, you guys are in this healthy circle, it doesn't mean that you guys don't screw up, it doesn't mean that there isn't issues, it doesn't mean that there isn't problems, it means that the people inside of my healthy circle are all seeking God more than anything else. Right?

That they're seeking a relationship that's impacting an eternity as opposed to setting up their best life here, right? And then outside of that, you start having circles of influence of, you know, close friends, friends, acquaintances, and in there is every bit of, you know, love for people. But for me to make sure that I don't screw up, I segment who I allowed to influence me. Right?

And I think that's a very smart thing to do. Now, what I'm not saying is I don't spend time with people outside of my inner circle, I actually spend a lot of time influencing people outside of my inner circle, right? Teaching, guiding, helping, coaching, being there for people, whatever I can, just being an ear, right? Doing whatever I can. But when it comes to the influence side, rarely do I allow outside of my first one or two circles to really be an influence on my life. So I think that was a huge piece for me of putting a stop to negative influences.

Joel Fortner  20:03

Yeah, that's powerfull.

Aaron West  20:05

And I'll just add on something Joe was saying to that I think is just fantastic. Where the whole recognizing that piece and what you're just talking about Joel, how often do we easily see the negative influences and other people, but then don't stop and see the negative influences we're portraying ourselves? And, you know, that's where that one really hit me, as you're sitting there talking about really hit me going, gosh, when am I, you know, it's easy for me to see all these other negative influences people have, but where am I portraying negative influences on other people? How am I holding other people back?

Joel Fortner  20:37

Yeah, totally.

Chris LoCurto  20:38

I think that's probably one of the most powerful pieces. You know, we do talk a lot about victim mentality here. If everything is happening to you, and only these people are negative influences. All three of us have a good amount of I. And you know, high I's, we can be victims, "Everything's happening to me, I'm not doing it." That is just absolutely wrong. When you start to recognize how you're hurting somebody, there's so many God turns on to take right now. You know, when you start to recognize that, then it makes a big difference on how you act, and the choices that you make. So number three, question number three, what motivated you to start seeking positive or in essence, the right influences?

Aaron West  21:25

Yeah, for me, I'll jump in first, it honestly was recognition of who God created me to be, and who he wanted me to be. And really stepping outside of like, you were just talking about Chris, what is it that I want? What are my desires? What is it you know, what is it I'm seeking? And instead, going, what is it God wants for me? What is he leading me to? And that that revelation right there for me is what forced me to go hang on timeout. Why am I allowing these negative influences to have an impact on me?

Why am I allowing these things to shape who I am? Instead of really going, Okay, Lord, who is it that I am to you? What is my worth to you? And then taking that and going, gosh, now, those negative influences don't matter to me anymore. They're no longer influences. Now I'm going, gosh, let me go find positive influences. Let me go find the things that do matter. You know, what does his word say about me? What is the creator of the world, who has he created me to be? And seeking those things out, those answers out, that has a huge impact for me.

Joel Fortner  22:36

I think for me, the first place I can think of really goes back to graduating high school and then go into college. And because I started to think about, "Hey, it's now time to do something, man. It's like you have done pretty much nothing." You graduated high school with like a 2.5 GPA I skirted by. I just didn't care, I did enough to get by. But when I got to college, I was like, it's now time to kick things into gear, because it's the thing that stands between you and your career. I didn't mean to make up a poem right there. But yet I did. I'll try to do that three more times throughout the episode. So what I kind of stumbled upon it though, because I got going in college and realized-

Chris LoCurto  23:21


Joel Fortner  23:21

I'm sorry?

Chris LoCurto  23:22


Joel Fortner  23:23

Yes, yes, actually, I got more formal about it. Speaking of college, I'd love creative writing class, I loved it. And I had a girlfriend that could write stuff to. That's really pretty terrible looking back at it. But that's neither here nor there. But I stumbled upon it because I got into college and started realizing I was like, wait a minute, I'm meeting like all of these people that are leaders in the school, and they're leading student activities and all this stuff that was like, this is awesome. I love this.

And I'm very utility with my learning and I always have been. So there's only been brief moments of time when I would go read a bunch of stuff that had no, like economic benefit, meaning, like ROI, or any utility or you know, benefit at all. It was that was very rare. But I've always been that way. And I started realizing, wait a second, I am learning so much about life and about this thing called purpose and godly people. And this whole world of opportunity started opening up to me that was so exciting to me.

I remember when I met his name is Joe Martin. He was a motivational speaker. And he opened my eyes to this whole concept of purpose, like why are you here, and living intentionally, and it set off a fire inside of me. And it was like it stoked a passion that God gave me that I never knew was there. And that started moving me forward to now pursuing this type of influence because it was so exciting for me. And then that led to career choices and then all in all through academics and half of my time in college was spent in student activities because it was was such a strength and a passion of mine. And then it just continue on from there into other areas of life such as relationship with God, and so on and so forth.

Chris LoCurto  25:08

So for me, interestingly, I've pretty much always sought out positive influence, once again, I was a pretty darn good kid, I made more of my mistakes later on in, you know, my 20s and stuff. But as a youth, a very high S, didn't like conflict, didn't want to hurt people, all that kind of stuff. But I can go all the way back to remembering my football coach when I was in Pop Warner football.

So we're talking about, you know, junior high. I think I started in elementary school, I can go back to Mike Mishary, who was just this amazing dominant guy, but a great guy. You know, he was always yelling at the kids, but we didn't think anything of it. I mean, he was fantastic, everybody loved him, thought the world of them. And he was on a plane and the plane dropped out of the air.

And everybody freaked out, and his wife was sitting next to him. And he's just sitting there, calm as can be, when everything came back around. She's like, "How were you not scared?" And he said, "I've lived a good life, God has got this, if it's my time to go, it's my time to go."

I remember that from back in those days in being so influenced by that. And that making such a huge impact of me wanting to seek God and learn more about God, that I've always kind of sought positive influences, I've have always enjoyed positive influences, because I've always known how it's benefited my life. I think by far, the biggest time that I really started seeking positive influences is after, you know, failed relationships in my 20s.

And well- a failed relationship in my 20s, where it's just like, I'm going the wrong direction. And it's not even horrid. It's just not great. It's not good. And I made a decision. Well, I made a decision not to date for three years, which was a fantastic decision, it turned out to be six. But it just focused my relationship on God. And that was crazy powerful. And that was in my early mid 20s. And that was huge.

And I think at that point, I really started looking around and asking myself the question, this is the influences that have been in my life for the last, you know, 10 years or so, or a little bit less than that. And this is how jacked up things got for quite a period of time. I don't like that. That's not fun. I want things different. So I started looking at positive people, you know, people that we're doing things in a positive way, especially in a more godly type of way. And I think that's when I really started knowing that I was looking in the right direction. So Alright, question number four, what's been the greatest influence for positive change outside of the Bible?

Joel Fortner  28:15

I love that caveat. That's where we will go, right? Yeah.

Aaron West  28:20

You got my first answer? Okay. Here's my second answer.

Joel Fortner  28:22

Straight to Elijah. Straight to him. All right, Aaron, you want to go?

Aaron West  28:27

You know, I think for me, I've had some amazing godly men and couples in my past and in my relationships that have helped really significantly guide me. And it's not just that they've been fun people, they've been kind people, it's that they are willing to call me out and hold me accountable to things. Kind of a funny story here for you guys. You guys may not even know this story. Before Bekka and I, when we were dating, we actually went through a 40 day fast together. And our fast was actually from each other. So we did not communicate with each other for 40 days. And did a Bible study at the same time. But we had a couple-

Chris LoCurto  29:08

I remember that you told me that years ago.

Aaron West  29:11

Yeah. And we had a we had a couple who who were our accountability people through that whole thing. They were a married couple that we respected and knew. And so they communicated with us, but they kept us accountable through that, that 40 day fast and really was praying about our relationship, what is our relationship going to look like? And thankfully, coming out of the 40 day fast, I felt the same thing that she did. And so she said yes, not long after that, but yeah, that that whole thing of we had people like that who would pour into us who would help shape us and call us out on things whenwe were, you know, being stupid and doing stupid and willing to hold us accountable and love us for who we were.

Joel Fortner  29:57

You know, I'll say I have had-since especially going back to like half my life ago, I have had tremendous positive influences in my life. And when I think about people like, you know, Patricia Meyers at Pellissippi State in Knoxville, and so many other people Pat stands above most back in that time, in my life and onward into the military-countless positive influences of people I work for in particular commanders who were just amazing people all the way through, but I will tell you, and it's not because you're sitting here in front of me, but my, it was called life plan back then back in the day, my Next Level Life experience, though now seven or eight years ago, was the greatest two days of positive influence that I have ever had.

And I point back to it, and I talk about it almost every week when I lead someone through, because it was no joke, it was the major turning point in my life for so many reasons. And it's what now 400 plus people have come through this process and experienced as well, that eyesight so much now, years later. So much fruit, so much health, so much growth in God, MaryBeth and I mean, especially when she went through her event a couple years later, the amount of positive I'll say impact in result in our life today and years leading up to today directly links back to our individual events.

Chris LoCurto  31:32

So I have to jump on that bandwagon as well. When I took myself through this process years ago, long time ago. One of the most powerful things for me, and it's funny because it ends up and it starts out in a negative but ends up in a positive, was recognizing my lack of healthy boundaries. In my own life and not knowing it, like literally teaching people, helping people put healthy boundaries in place, you know, helping them get healthy, helping them make right decisions, doing all kinds of stuff. And man, it was, again, it was that, you know, proverbial two by four upside the head of just, stop. This is enough.

And I remember just this powerful moment of going and it's, you know, sometimes I'll share this with people of like, "Hey, you need to grow backbone." Right? This area of your life is missing this, right? It wasn't a backbone, it was something else. But we're gonna use backbone in here. Because it was this, "Hey, you're teaching people, you're helping people, and you're not seeing that this exists in your own life." And man, it was really difficult because-I was ready, I was ready to put the healthy boundaries in place.

I knew it was something that needed to be done. And I knew it was something that was holding me back from an incredible amount of freedom in God. Because I was putting something else before you know, a human being before my relationship with God way before, I was way more concerned about this person than I was myself. And so when I started putting those healthy boundaries in place, man it it made things a bajillion times worse.

But so, that part I don't love. But it became, it ended up being the greatest influence for me to go, "Enough is enough is enough is enough. I've got to take responsibility for what I'm allowing. I've got to take responsibility for not having shut certain things down in certain areas of my life and certain aspects and bad decisions I'm making and all of this crap." It just became this phenomenal change in my life for positivity.

You know it again, I help people to understand a lot. You know, and you do as well, Joel, in Next Level Life, that this when you start to really set healthy boundaries, because you're taking responsibility, you're not being a victim. You're taking responsibility, because they're your choices. You're allowing this to happen. You're allowing somebody to impact you in a certain way. This is you, right?

And so, everybody listening to this, there is a freedom when it stops being somebody else who's doing it and it becomes, "Oh, I'm allowing it." Because then it's a shift in mindset. And that became so positive for me because again, it went really bad, and then has had the most phenomenal, you know what a bar graph curve up over the years of just being super positive. So, Alright, we're gonna take a break. But when we come back, we'll be talking about why influence has such a deep impact on our lives and how to push back against those negative influences. That's right after this

Speaker 2  35:22

"Freedom, it's so powerful."

Speaker 3  35:24

"I felt rejuvenated, almost renewed, to some degree."

Allison  35:28

"I just felt so welcomed and loved and accepted for who I am, and not an ounce of judgment. So I was very comfortable there, that had a really big impact on me."

Speaker 4  35:39

"It's going to be worth it. It's going to be hard, but it's going to be even better on the other side."

Speaker 3  35:45

For me, it was just very refreshing. And I want to say life giving, for me, it really was."

Speaker 2  35:51

"You know, I would go through Next Level Life again, and probably again, and probably again, because it's so powerful."

Chris LoCurto  35:59

I want you to ask yourself a question: Could you hear the sense of hope and freedom and their voices just then? I want you to know, that could be you. Look, it's easy to get trapped in old habits, negative thought patterns, and unhealthy relationships, it's gonna take some work. But yes, there is hope for you. If you want to experience the same kind of life transformation, the same kind of self-awareness and freedom that they have, or maybe you're just curious what the process would look like for you, then head on over to chrislocurto.com/nextlevellife.

Chris LoCurto  36:36

Folks, the information that we choose to consume will ultimately shape our character. So information is an informative process, we become what we choose to receive, and incorporated into our lives.

Aaron West  36:52

Chris I was gonna say, that sounds a lot like the old Zig Ziglar statement that he used to say where you know, he'd say, "I read the newspaper in the Bible, both in the mornings, just because I want to know what both sides were doing."

Chris LoCurto  37:02

Is it? That's exactly it. Wow, that's so powerful to think about that that way. Even in that statement, you can see the power of negative influence. Right? So that's awesome. That's awesome. All right, we got some Bonus questions for us to talk through. So here's the first one, how can someone listening to this episode put a stop to wrong influences?

Aaron West  37:27

I think the first thing you got to do is you got to be able to recognize what those wrong influences are. You've got to be able to see what they are, you gotta be able to call them out. And on top of that, I think you've got to be able to put people around you who can help you see right, positive influences, and hold you accountable to those things hold you accountable to not allowing those negative influences to to have an impact on you.

Chris LoCurto  37:54

Yeah totally. So for me, there's three areas that you have to recognize as you're talking about Aaron, one of those being the people. You know, who actually is speaking into your life? I mean, seriously, there might even be times where you have, you know, negative co-workers that are just a drain, because you keep allowing them to have a negative influence, it doesn't mean that you can't help out, it doesn't mean that you sit there and treat them like crap.

They're, you know, a creation of God as well. But you have to recognize how it's influencing you. It could be relatives, you know, like you talked about the four of you boys all impacting each other negatively, not recognizing it. But once you did, what a powerful thing it was to switch that around, it could be people that you've put up on a pedestal, there, believe it or not, it's sometimes hard to understand-first off you nobody should be on a pedestal except for Jesus.

But sometimes we'll put people in places and not realize the negative effect that they're having on us. They might even be really good and really positive in many ways, but still having a negative impact on us. So people is a huge, huge piece. You've got to recognize who's influencing you, not just who you'd spend time with, because you can spend time with somebody, you know, you can work in the same building with somebody all day long, and they don't have an influence on you.

We're talking about the folks that that literally are influencing in your life, even if it's five minutes, you know, it doesn't even matter how much time you spend with them. Are they having an influence? Another thing for me and this is a big one for me. Going back to the Zig quote, what you read-let me change out the word, "read" to "consume". What you consume information wise. It's funny, a lot of times, people will ask me, you know, "Have you read this book over here?"

And it's something that, you know, hey, it sounds like it's a great book or whatever, I spend so much of my time consuming stuff on God. It is the bulk. By far, by far, my wife and I spend a large amount of time, every single day. And at least double or triple that amount of time on on weekends of just consuming God's stuff. Because here's the way I look at it. Again, back to the Zig quote. The more I know about that, the better decisions I make here, the better decisions I make for eternity, right? But one thing I have really had to change, it started back with Al Gore, who invented the internet.

Joel Fortner  41:00

Thank you Al. Otherwise this podcast wouldn't be possible.

Chris LoCurto  41:03

That's so true. If it wasn't for Al Gore, we would not have Aaron coming in on the computer.

Aaron West  41:11

And he's a Tennessean. And so you know.

Chris LoCurto  41:12

Right, right, right. It's actually-I blame Al Gore for this. But that's just funny. It's not Al Gore, it's, again, three times go back to the Zig quote, it was the news. During the Bush Gore election. And this is how long it's been, since I've watched the news. So literally, I had not watched the news unless it was like, no choice because it's in an airport or something like that, I hadn't literally just sat down to watch the news until my honeymoon and COVID hit. I'm trying to find out what I need to do.

And the reason is simple. I would get up in the morning, and I would turn that on while I was getting ready. And I would head to work upset. I would find myself mad. I mean, just mad. And after doing that for like, a couple of weeks, I realized I've never done good watching the news, right? I've never actually done good after I've had, you know, sat down and watched the news for a while because there's always what's the intention nowadays?

It's always you know, if it bleeds, it leads, if it's, you know, if it if it could create frustration or fear or whatever, this is the stuff we're putting out there. And I found myself being really jacked up by watching it. But it doesn't stop there. Right? I've had to make sure that there's a whole lot of social platforms, I do not have on my phone, I will not have it with me.

Because it is a at the very minimum a time drain on your brain. At the very minimum, it is a waste of time on your brain, right? Very minimum, then you take a look at what you know what's being said, what's being shown. Everything is sexy nowadays, everything is negative, you've got all of this crap that just piles up into your brain. And then you sit there and wonder why life is the way that it is. Right? So I think information is, you know, the stuff that we consume on a daily basis is huge. If you just take a look, even if you read the wrong, I don't know comic strip, does anybody read comic strips anymore?

Joel Fortner  43:35

I don't know if they're strips.

Chris LoCurto  43:37

Zig would because he would still have the newspaper, you know, whatever it is, even if you're just looking at, you know, something that's supposed to give you joy, but instead it doesn't. And then I think the third thing and this is again, so powerful for what we teach here is your thought patterns. Right? The things that you're processing in your brain. I believe it's Philippians four, correct me on this, Philippians 4:16 Those things that are lovely, those things that are pure, those things that are hopefully I got that right.

Joel Fortner  44:13

I wish I could just correct you, or check you on the fly, but I can't.

Chris LoCurto  44:18

So Aaron's pulling it up.

Aaron West  44:21

Yeah, Chris that's Philippians four verse eight that says, "Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."

Chris LoCurto  44:37

So, so powerful. When you think about the negative thoughts that we have all day long, right? Here's what I know. I could watch the news for, I don't know 10, 15 minutes and go to work mad; upset. Because that influence is jacking up my thought patterns. And what do we see here?

If you change the things you're thinking about, and you put in these things that are lovely, these things that are pure. If you put this kind of stuff in your brain, then an amazing thing happens. Those become the things you're thinking of. Right? So I'm currently I hate that I've never read the hidden place, or The Hiding Place. Thank you, MaryBeth Fortner, Bible study last week, I said something and she goes, that reminds me of The Hiding Place, which is Corrie Ten Boom's story.

And so I immediately bought audio book that night, and I've been going through and I'm just like, I'm just loving it. But one of the most powerful things is her father. Her father's attitude all the time was just so pure. And so positive that I love, she had a line in there. She's like, you know, my father, who was never deceptive, or even could recognize deception, right? Because he was so sweet. Such a great man.

And just the thoughts of, you know, like, if somebody needed help with their coat, being put on going out the door, picking up a tool that dropped on the floor, it's just that sweetness, right? And he lived in God's word. And just that thought of the more pure precious things you put in, the more pure precious things you'll think about, the more crap you put in. Well, by default, the more crap that comes out.

Joel Fortner  46:29

Yeah, I think another piece-all that's absolutely fantastic. Another thing that comes to mind is, is to set goals. Is to set positive goals. And then you're like, Okay, this is where I want to be in my life in all these different areas, and then go and get the information that you need, go get the coaching the books, the podcasts, the videos, the courses, you know, whatever it is, that helps you get to where you want to be, go get that information, because so much of our time, especially with media consumption, it's reactive. It's just well flip open Instagram, flip it up and Facebook, jump on tik tok, whatever, or just go to Google News, or just turn on the news. And whatever I'm fed today I am, but it's all reactive living.

Chris LoCurto  47:18

I have a moment without anything influencing me, I need some sort of influence, do something on the phone.

Joel Fortner  47:25

Absolutely. But it's just it's reactive living, though, rather than, where do you want to go in your life? What are your goals this year, and then go after the information that's going to really get you there. And then you get really, really good at that. And that becomes your new force of habit.

Chris LoCurto  47:39

That's powerful, being proactive versus reactive. And setting that in, as you say, set those goals. What's the key to setting goals? You have to have a plan, right? It's not enough to say, "I want a better marriage." What are the things you're doing to have a better marriage? What are the things you're doing to have better kids? What are the things you're doing to have a better career? Put those steps in place. That's really good. Alright. So how can someone listening to this episode start incorporating the right ones?

Joel Fortner  48:10

You know, I would just say what we've been talking about here, I feel like we've answered this question, in many ways already. I think one of the biggest pieces when it comes to influences is awareness, it's understanding, it's being intentional, it's being proactive, kind of like everything with success in life. Success is not going to come from reaction.

Aaron West  48:32

Yeah that's a key word, there's the proactive versus reactive, you know, how many times do we just react to things around us versus just- and I hate to beat a dead horse, but really, honestly, that is such a huge piece of when we choose to be proactive. I think it's just an important piece of it right there.

Chris LoCurto  48:50

Yeah, I think we left off one important piece that's just hitting me right now. And that is, so many of the decisions that we're talking about, involve me numbing from a current situation, you know, me trying to deal with a current situation. So I think that's a big piece. As we were talking through this and we're talking about setting goals and all that stuff.

All of a sudden it hit me why we you know, the very thing we teach, why do we make so many bad decisions? Why there's so many surface level responses? Because of the stuff I don't get, the things I don't understand, why am I emotionally eating? Why am I emotionally spending? Why am I a people pleaser? Why am I doing these things? And it's because so much of that stuff is tied to our worth in man.

So I think a big huge piece is the recognition is so powerful. Being proactive is a must. But if you recognize and become proactive, without recognizing the why, right? If you recognize the "what" Become proactive without recognizing the "why", you'll probably do the same thing in another area. You've got to get to a place of understanding why these things exist, why these decisions, you know, you're making, and I think we've all talked about that in our own, you know, personal Next Level Life processes of discovering things that made that impactful piece. Because if right now, information is being consumed in my life, because it's feeding something, right?

Maybe I'm consuming negative information. Because it's keeping me you know, it's helping me to see other people's negativity so that I don't look at my own well, crap. If that's what I'm doing, then shutting that off is actually going to be slightly detrimental, because then I'm going to have to sit my own stuff, and then I'm not going to like that, and I'm going to go find another thing.

So that's, I think that's one of the big things, is that it can be really tough. Like I was thinking through how setting healthy boundaries. It wasn't until I realized that it was me, who was the problem with the healthy boundaries. Could I truly set healthy boundaries? And when I could take personal responsibility, then I could set them, so if if you're not there yet, that can be very difficult.

That can be very tough. You know, how do you change your diet? Well, if I'm emotionally eating, and I have that part in my life, or, you know, pasta was my nightly- I've never been a sugar guy. But man, give me a bowl of pasta every night. That was that was happy for me. You know, and just making that adjustment. How do you make that? How do you stop emotional eating?

Well, you've got to solve the thing that's creating the emotional problems. So if you need help getting away from the negative influences in your life that are pulling you down, go back and listen to Episode 404, which is, Replacing Negative Influences in your Life with the Right Ones. Also, feel free to send us a question or comment to podcast at Chris LoCurto. You might have something that you want to hear us talk about send it in.

There's something you want to hear. So as a summary. Really take a hard look at all aspects of what's influencing you. Whether it's information, whether it's people, whether it's your own thought patterns, start taking a hard look at those. Write down a list if you need to, of the things that are really affecting you in a negative way. Right? Whatever it is, obviously, our hope is for everybody to go through Next Level Life.

Everybody needs it. Everybody does. We've had folks with the worst situations in life, we've had folks with barely anything negative in their lives that have had just powerful, amazing Next Level Lives. So don't hold back. If that's something you want to do chrislocurto.com, on Next Level life, folks, as always, I hope this has helped you out. Gentlemen, as always, thank you for joining me on the show.

Aaron West  52:54

Yeah, Thanks, Chris. It's always fun to join even if it is virtually.

Chris LoCurto  52:58

Thank you Al Gore.

Joel Fortner  52:59

Yeah, it's cool. We can see you all the way in Cossville it's the neatest thing. Also hat tip to Al Gore. I hope he listens to the show. That's be kind of fun No, it's so fun do this.

Chris LoCurto  53:13

I love that you just use the word "neat". That's fantastic. Well, folks, as always, we hope this information has helped you today. Take this information and:

Joel Fortner  53:22

Change your leadership.

Aaron West  53:23

Change your business.

Chris LoCurto  53:25

Change your life, and join us on the next episode.



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.