Identifying Your Anchors and 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.

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?

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?

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Nancy Allen

Certified WBENC