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Who’s in your Tier 1? (continued)

Updated: Jan 20

In a prior post, I shared the definition of Tier 1 friends and the role they play in keeping things in perspective, especially when you find yourself STUCK.

I also suggested that Tier 1 friends can take forms such as books, podcasts, or videos, which really just represent people you haven’t met and may never meet, but people nonetheless. People that can still give you needed insights. That can “tell you you’re being stupid, without making you feel stupid.” That can help get you UNSTUCK.

In the example I shared in the other post, my Tier 1 friends started out as books and podcasts that led to conversations with real people who offered similar insights and new perspectives. They were positive influences on me.

But Tier 1 can also have a dark side.

Tier 1 – Defined

So that we’re all on the same page, here is how I’m defining Tier 1 (it’s a little different than how it was defined previously):

  1. Tier 1 are those people or things you allow to influence you.

  2. Tier 2 is everyone and everything else.

When you allow someone or something to influence you, it changes the way you think, which changes the way you act/react.

For example:

  1. Advertising makes millions influencing each of us every day. If you find yourself watching a commercial and purchasing whatever you just saw, that commercial had a Tier 1 impact on you.

  2. You’re on a project at work. Three people in the group suggest a specific approach. No one else disagrees. You aren’t sure what you are feeling about it, but you don’t have another solution and you can see where the suggested approach will work. You decide to go along with the group. The group had a Tier 1 impact on you.

  3. Your 14-year-old asks to drive home from an event. Your brain instantly fills with images of sliding into a ditch or running into a phone pole, but he assures you he’s a “safe driver,” having taken driver’s education. You s-l-o-w-l-y hand over the keys…your teenager just had a Tier 1 impact on you.

So what? Why should you care about any of this?

The reason it’s important to recognize who or what you are allowing to influence you is because these influences are impacting the way you think, which impacts the way you act and react. This, in turn, impacts your relationships, how well you communicate, levels of trust, etc.

Not all influences are good influences, and you may not even be aware of what is truly influencing you.

Tier 1 – Friend or Foe?

In the About CI post, you learned more about the original version of the Courageously Imperfect (CI) logo and how it represents us on our life journey:

  1. The light half of the circle represents the self we choose to show others; it’s who others think we are based on what they see/observe.

  2. The “shadow” half of the circle, representing part of our self we fill – consciously or unconsciously – with our past experiences, with influences we’ve allowed to shape us, with tools we’ve learned, and with emotions (fears, etc.) that are part of how we are naturally wired.

  3. The outer circle represents our whole self, which is made up of both parts – our light side and our shadow side. It symbolizes the continuous cycle of how the things we allow to fill our “shadow” side will, eventually, flow through to the light side, which is how we present ourselves to the world. The outcomes can be positive or negative. We get to choose.

Now let’s apply Tier 1 to our CI journey. It looks something like:

The things we allow to influence us fill our “shadow” side first. It’s the part that others can’t see. Whatever is on the “shadow” side eventually flows over into the “light” half of our circle. This is how we act/react. This is what people see and how they perceive us, based on our actions and behaviors.

In my journey, it took me a while to recognize the Tier 1 influences that weren’t serving me well. That’s because some of these influences had been around almost my entire life, so I wasn’t aware of them and the impact they were having.

Since transparency is the path to authenticity, I’m going to share my Tier 1 Foes with you, along with the impact they had on my actions/reactions. See if you can identify with any of these:

Tier 1 Environments

Your environment – the external forces that surround you on a regular basis – can also have a Tier 1 influence on you, whether you realize it or not.

Growing up, my environment was heavily influenced by a large, extended family and farmers who worked hard every day.

Looking back, I see where I adopted positive Tier 1 influences, such as:

  1. A strong work ethic

  2. An appreciation for where food comes from

  3. Respect for the cycle of life

  4. Resilience – being able to recover quickly from setbacks

  5. A love of food with fellowship

  6. An appreciation for old hymns

I also see where I unconsciously adopted these Tier 1 Foes:

  1. Not viewing emotions as valuable/necessary.

  2. “I can get the work done (and done more efficiently) without them, thank you very much.”

  3. Putting on a “good face” in whatever situation you were in.

  4. Believing that success meant marrying a farmer and having multiple kids while being a stay-at-home mom.

Please note that I truly believe each of these is an honorable path! And I have much respect for farmers, farmer’s wives, and stay-at-home moms. These just weren’t my paths. I encountered a lot of frustration trying to fit this mold through my mid-20s.

When I try to pinpoint where I learned these Tier 1 Foes, there’s not really one specific answer. They weren’t lessons that were “taught” at school or home. Some of it depends on how we’re wired and how we translate situations – based on our perspective – without realizing there could be another perspective.

That’s why it can take a while to truly identify Tier 1 Foes, especially if they have been unconsciously with you a while.

Time to Clean House

For those on your own Courageously Imperfect journey, if you can get to the point where you can recognize the difference between your Tier 1 Friends and Tier 1 Foes, you’ve reached an important crossroads.

  1. What you allow into your “shadow side” will eventually come out into the “light” (the side you show others.)

  2. You get to choose what fills your shadow side.

  3. You can choose to remove what doesn’t help.

  4. Removing Tier 1 Foes creates space for self-compassion and peace.

  5. You get to choose.

If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on those who didn’t cut you. Unknown

On my journey, the Enneagram Type assessment and the descriptions of each type were the first personal assessments that truly helped me see me for ALL of me – the parts I liked AND the parts I didn’t. I’d taken many assessments before, but they only described my strengths and preferences. They didn’t help me understand “why” I was the way I was. The Enneagram was a life-changer for me in this aspect.

I realized I’m a “3 – Achiever.” While I wasn’t initially thrilled about the description of my number, I also realized there are many others out there like me. Somehow, that brought me comfort to know I wasn’t alone.

I couldn’t ignore how well it described me in my current – unhealthy – state. It also described what I could look like in a healthier state. My authentic self. And I truly wanted this. To “achieve” that, I had to give up Tier 1 Foes that I was treating like Tier 1 Friends. It was time to clean house.

Having this awareness helped me recognize the power in me to get unstuck.

I wasn’t flawed. And I didn’t need to push myself to achieve- to be worthy – but rather just be. It led to surrender (surrendering old beliefs and taking on new ways) which led to my initial transformation. I realized where I was allowing myself to be influenced by Tier 1 Foes. Now that I could recognize them, I could remove them.

This realization was empowering and vulnerable at the same time. It was the beginning of my Courageously Imperfect journey. It allowed me to feel compassion for myself and others. I experienced peace.

Friends and Foes – And So the Journey Goes

Hopefully you are starting to recognize Tier 1 Foes that you’ve consciously or unconsciously allowed to negatively influence you. They keep you from the authentic self you desire to be. They keep you STUCK.

On my journey, I had Tier 1 Friends that walked alongside me who were farther along on their journeys. Having this support and safe space was just what I needed when I needed it. And it was their way to give back.

Ready to take the next step?

Schedule a free, 30-minute consultation to determine the right amount of support for you.


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