I just realized the other day that I didn’t consciously choose many of the things that influenced me as a child. I imagine this is the case for most kids. We’re guided by our parents and teachers, who choose for us how to spend our days and, when we’re really young, who we spend them with, too. This is appropriate, of course, but it means that we rely on our parents or other adults to make the best choices for us. And not everyone has caring parents or compassionate teachers (like I did).

As you grow up, you get to choose more and more of the things that will have an influence on you. You’ll choose new friends, you’ll decide what to study and what to read. The amazing thing is that even if you had a crappy childhood with less-than-ideal role models, as an adult you can make different choices for yourself. You can choose to learn from new people who share your interests and values. You can move beyond what you already know by changing who and what surrounds you everyday.

John Wooden said, “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” We don’t always consciously choose these things, of course, but when we can, doesn’t it seem incredibly important to choose them wisely?

Are you careful about what influences you every day? What do you think?