Your Environment for Success - Justin Furness

Break away from playing small and evaluate your environment to succeed

Playing small in your everyday experiences

Most are familiar with the following quote, often attributed to Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” We are wired for survival, and if adaptation is a survival mechanism, then adaptability must be a natural occurrence. I had a chance to speak with Justin Furness, Founder of LifePrint Systems, Behavior & Integrative Healthcare Expert, and High Performance Facilitator and Trainer. He shared about adaptation, and described its two phases: a growth phase where one evolves through a current state, and a protective phase, where one is forced to survive from a state of fear. It is the latter of the two phases that can stunt your personal growth, audacious dreams and aspirations by causing you to contract and play small for the sake of protecting yourself.

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. -Marianne Williamson

Many of us are playing small in our everyday lives and are not aware of the harm we inflict on ourselves or its disservice to others. Fear of losing a job, relationships, or something significant to us can force us to minimize our voice, accomplishments or beliefs. When we play small and contract in certain situations it is important to understand it is our desire to survive that pushes us to protect our ego, or avoid conflict. Not wanting to create insecurity in others and perceived consequences are all factors that contribute to this survival mechanism.

You have to take inventory within yourself and decide if this behavior is best serving you, your full potential or your professional goals.“Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” (Marianne Williamson)

Justin shares a few questions he asks himself in assessing if he is contracting and playing small:

  1. Am I in danger?

  2. Am I going to die?

  3. What is forcing me to contract and play small?

Use these questions to interrupt pattern triggers. Journaling and thinking through the answers to these questions, especially the last question is a game changer for you to realize, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure . . .” (Marianne Williamson).

As Justin points out, you cannot be in both phases of adaptation simultaneously. To survive as an individual, an entrepreneur or a professional of any kind, you will adapt to the ever changing environment around you either through a growth phase or a protective phase. While there is an appropriate time for each of these phases, being aware of when you are playing small where a better response exists will elevate your personal and professional experiences.

As the founder of LifePrint System, Justin Furness, created the system and methodology “to evaluate a person/relationship/team's baseline behavior patterns and the required needs that are necessary to feel valued and fulfilled.” In speaking about the protective phase of adaptation, he explains that evaluation outside of yourself, as well as self evaluation is needed to identify the “walls” we are building around ourselves that keep us in the protective phase of adaptation. These walls may manifest as anxiety, depression, feeling broken, or lacking confidence to name a few. The walls we build create resistance and tension. There is a need to replace these walls with windows that allow you to see beauty in its place. “You’re not going to find the beauty within life until you find it within yourself” (Justin Furness)

How environment matters

It is critical to understand we are adapting to both internal and external environments. Both environments are constantly changing. Internally, your environment can be fickle depending on your thoughts and external stressors. Externally our physical environment is just as complex and messy. Our homes, work places, where we shop and socialize are easily affected by people, politics and other factors that can be beyond our control.

In our conversation, Justin uses the example of stem cells to explain how an environment can impact the outcome. The same stem cell in different petri dishes grows and takes on the properties of whatever cells they are added to. Your external environment affects how you adapt. In a toxic and unsupported environment, Justin explains “it doesn’t matter how tall the flower grows, if it's in a garden of weeds it’ll die, it’ll suffocate ….it won’t even reach that sun.”

Relational dynamics affect the chemistry within any given environment. Take the work place for instance. The environment can be tense with entry-level staff in the presence of senior management. Among senior management that has worked together for several years the dynamic completely changes when a new executive is introduced to bring in fresh ideas. In the context of adaptability as we discussed earlier, the same senior level management can transition from a growth phase in the presence of entry-level workers into a protective phase in the presence of a new top level executive being introduced if there is a fear or perceived threat.

How is your environment preventing you from reaching new milestones and what should you do to change that?

When left to someone else’s standards, we are choosing to give control and power away due to a lack of understanding of how the human operating system works, and we were never taught how to program or operate it, leaving many of us doubtful, dependent and dissatisfied with life, according to Justin.

Unhealthy (or unconscious) dependency can be a big contributor to holding you back from reaching new milestones. This leaves you vulnerable and living under constant threat, and thus, operating from a protective phase rather than a growth phase. Justin advises moving toward resistance (or discomfort) in order to adapt. Don’t run at your fears, lean into it and give it a push.

Justin reminds us that growth in the presence of challenges leads to progression. People, circumstances and all sorts of complicated dynamics contribute to the environments we find ourselves in, so evaluation outside of yourself and evaluation of yourself are necessary. When you evaluate you allow yourself to clearly see the challenges presented from your environment, and can then decide to adapt from a growth perspective.


Reaching new milestones will require you to stretch yourself, and giving yourself permission to fail is needed. Sharing lessons from your struggles and failures with others helps to minimize the ego that often keeps us playing small, therefore allows you to avoid protective phases that will keep you from achieving your next milestone. We often hear it said “get out of your own way.” Doing this will take practice. Challenge yourself everyday until you have total mastery over yourself. Justin’s definition of mastery is wonderfully simple. He says mastery is the byproduct of repetition and failure. You may fail at getting out of your own way everyday, but the repetition of doing so and trying again will lead to mastery. Apply this to all areas of your life as you begin to take inventory of the different environments you find yourself in and evaluate how you are adapting. Are you playing to win or are you playing small. Success in your business or career is a game of survival.

“I want people to stop allowing life to define them and for them to start defining life ...stop being an environmental reactor and start being the energetic generator that fuels your life towards your passion and your purpose so that you can find that friction-less fulfillment where life actually feels as if its happening for you and not against you or to you…” - Justin Furness

LifePrint Systems is the result of more than 10 years devotion from Justin Furness. The systems and programs he offers is not based on theory, but rather based in his personal experiences, research and training with doctors and specialists. His belief is to each one, teach one. There is a passion that cannot be ignored nor denied when you tap into the knowledge and skills Justin offers to lead individuals and businesses to experience being fully empowered and living life with passion and purpose.

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