Identify your Anchors & Engines

“Surround yourself with people who lift you up.”

“You are the reflection of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

“A true friend is someone who reminds you of who you are when you forget.”

We’ve all heard these idioms or some variation of them, right? I have found that they ring true for me on many different levels. And, I’ll bet you find that too… Have you heard of the Anchors and Engines exercise? (I don’t know who came up with the concept—I learned it from my coach.) It’s meant to get you to look at the role the people closest to you play in your life. It’s quite simple and really powerful.

You’re going to need a blank sheet of paper. Put a line down the middle of the sheet. On the left write the word anchor. On the right, the word engine. So, it will look something like this:


Now think on this: What does the word anchor bring up for you? Something that weighs you down? Something that keeps you in place? Something that provides you with safety? How about the word engine—what does that evoke? Moving forward? Speed? Progress? Creativity?

Engines: Positive things that are propelling you forward

Anchors: Negative things that are holding you back

Next make a list of the 10 people you spend the most time with. With the above definitions in mind, place the names in the appropriate columns. Who do you turn to if you want help with a new idea or challenge? How does that person respond? “Caution/caution/what if this/what if that?” That person probably falls in the anchor category. A person who responds with “What a great idea!/It’s about time!/What are you going to do first?” probably falls in the engine category.

This is not an exact science… some people will fall into both categories. And just because someone is in one category doesn’t mean they can’t give you good advice: I have plenty of anchors who keep me grounded and safe. I also have engines who I call on to give me a push when I need it. My engines are my champions. They are the ones who “remind me who I am when I forget”.

Go ahead. Make your list and observe your interactions… were you right? Did you put the person in the right category? How did that feel? How did your next interaction go?

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this exercise … let us know in the comments! And of course, if you need help with anything related to being a woman in business, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us on the HerCompany team, click here.

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G. Nancy Allen is an international speaker, coach, consultant and expert on women’s business issues. Nancy has over 30 years of experience helping small business owners at all stages of growth. As President and CEO of WBDC Florida/Her Company Incorporated, Nancy manages and leads an incredible team of staff, sponsors, partners and women business leaders who are dedicated to certifying, connecting and championing women in business. Nancy has been recognized for her work on behalf of women in business through numerous prestigious awards: -Nancy was recently honored by the International Career and Business Alliance (ICABA) as one of South Florida’s 100 most accomplished Caribbean Americans. She is especially proud of this award because it highlights her heritage as well as her professional accomplishments. -Nancy is the recipient of the World Women Leadership Achievement Award from the World Women Leadership Congress -Nancy is also the proud recipient of the Association Marketing Award from Women in ECommerce. -Most recently Nancy was named Honorary Ambassador of Cascais, Portugal by the Ambassador’s Club of the Industry Sector of Cascais and the Estoril Coast. Nancy’s personal motto is Connections, Creativity and Courage in all endeavors. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS, 1982). She was born in Haiti and raised in South Florida. Nancy is bi-lingual in English and French and is fluent in Spanish and Creole.

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