By Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chairman at BNI

What if you lived your entire life in one room? Whoever you want to interact with in life — is in that room. You can continually change your room to include any and all the new possibilities that you might like to have in your life. However, there is one unique feature to this room that will never change — it has only one door. It is a one-way door with a sign that says; “enter-only.” There is no exit. Whoever is in your room, stays in your room forever. Whoever comes into your room and whatever they bring with them, cannot leave — ever. They will remain in your room, with you, forever. If this were true, would you be more selective about the people that you let into your room? When I’ve asked people this question, I have always received a resounding “Yes, I would be a lot more selective!”

So, what kind of room have you created? If you live a life with drama all around you, then what people did you let into your life that created that drama? If your life is full of chaos, who was it that brought that chaos into the room? Are there harsh, angry, or toxic people in your room? If so, who allowed them in? Does your life feel frenetic and complex? Could it be that you let too many people (especially the wrong ones) into your room?

Right about now, most people who I’ve introduced this concept to are having an “OMG moment.” I can actually see the wheels turning in people’s expressions while they think about the type of room they reside in. One woman I spoke to said; “my life is like the waiting room of an ER, I keep letting in one wreck after another!”

Stop for a moment and think, “who’s in your room?” Take a quick inventory. Ask yourself how you might have lived your life differently had you known that anybody you let into your room might actually be there forever. Then think about how, going forward, you are going to determine which people to let into your room and which you’ll keep in the foyer.

The people in your room profoundly affect the view you have of yourself and your life. At this point, it doesn’t actually matter how any of the people in your room got there, what came in with them, or whether you can get them out. You may have invited them in or they may have pushed their way in. They may be in your room because they are family or because you think you need them. If they are in your room, one way or another, their presence greatly impacts the quality of your life — for better or for worse.

Going forward you can become vigilant and attentive to who’s knocking on your door. You can learn to manage who and what has already gained entry. You can set better guidelines that determine who you let inside as well as how to manage the current occupancy and what they brought with them.

You might not be able to permanently eject people or things that are already in your room but you can definitely — permanently — change how those people and things occupy your space.

The quality of your life is a direct reflection of who is in your room. How you manage who you let into your room, your life, or your network is very important. How do you go about choosing who you let in? The answer is a “metaphorical” doorman or a conscious awareness of your values and passions. Do you know what they are? If not, you need to spend time thinking about the values you hold dear and the kind of people you want to be around. Nobody gets in who doesn’t meet your personal values. Ask yourself; “are there people close to me that don’t live my values now? Would I have let them in if I had thought about this concept before letting them close to me?”

This concept fits perfectly with building a powerful personal network. The people we bring in close to us should be people we want to work with. They should be people who share our values and our passions. Understanding this simple concept can help us choose between a person who we think has a skill set we need vs a value set we wish to emulate.

We design the room with the people we live in. We can do that consciously or we can do that by happenchance. The choice is ours. “Who’s in your room?” Knowing this concept now — what would you do different in the future? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

[i]Called the "father of modern networking" by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.BNI.com), the world's largest business networking organization. His book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute (www.ReferralInstitue.com), an international referral training company.[i]