Your Friends Are Either Slowly Killing You Or Slowly Building You

by Zack Arenson

Jim Rohn is famously quoted as saying “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” While I think the number five may be a stretch, I do believe his sentiment to be accurate.

While parents and family members do have forever-lasting, monumental impacts on our lives, sometimes we undervalue truly how much weight our friends have on our personalities.

We are born into our families and technically have no choice but to allow them to influence us. Some of us — like myself — are lucky enough to be born into extremely caring, supportive and motivational families. However, some people aren’t afforded that support growing up. In either instance, the greatest influencers in our lives eventually become our friends.

These are the people who are there for us when our family members cannot or will not be. These are the people to whom you tell your secrets, concerns and most importantly, off of whom you bounce your ideas.

Consider the things you have not told your family; the things you can’t discuss with Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Grandma, Grandpa, etc. Your friends know these things and have helped you through them.

You make your close friends during the years when you're most impressionable and you choose to hang out with each other.

You either genuinely like and want to be in someone’s life through thick and thin or you don’t and you move on. We’ve all had to make tough decisions about who is a real friend and who is an acquaintance. The key is being able to decipher between the two.

It's difficult to not confuse your friends with "yes" men or women who think you’ve never had a bad idea or have ever been wrong. If these are your friends, they are toxic human beings and you are probably a pretentious assh*le. Members of my core group of friends are the first to tell me I am an assh*le when I am being one.

This is important because it keeps me in check. I've never gotten to the point of being a complete dick to people because if I tried, I got called out on it.

I always surrounded myself with friends who demanded respect, respected others, knew when to have a good time and understood that our core group is only as good as its weakest member.

If you’re realizing that nobody in your core group of friends has put you in check in a really long time, take a step back and analyze what these friends are doing for you. I don’t want to hear about how it’s not what your friends can do for you that make them friends. Save it.

That’s exactly what true friends are — not in the sense that they should be doing chores for you, but they should bring something significant to the table. If you choose your friends by deciding whom you can walk all over the easiest, then you have it all wrong. Your friends need to motivate you, inspire you and be there for you.

Your core group of friends must be supportive in situations when you’re flying high as well. Many people think friends' only responsibilities are to catch you when you fall and sit back and relax when you are flying. Not true. When you’re feeling good about yourself, you are the most vulnerable.

This is when you need good friends the most (and don’t know it). They have helped you get to where it is you want to be and they need to keep you on track.

The pathway to success (business or personal) is paved with many distractions. These friends are with you when your dreams become realities, so make sure you don’t turn them into nightmares.

I can’t imagine success without the friends who helped me get there. I’m not saying you can’t achieve goals and reach the levels of success you want without friends, but isn’t it better when you all can bask in it? When you can share it with others?

Every person has his or her own definition of what friendship means to him or her — and that’s fine. I know that each one of my friends not only means something completely special and different to me, but they also are in my life for a reason.

Right now, you may think it makes sense to gather as many friends as you possibly can — the more, the merrier. This is the misconception of networking being misconstrued and mistaken with real-life social networking.

You’ll understand quickly that quality over quantity is supremely important when it comes to your core group of friends. Your friends will either kill you slowly or slowly build you.

The tricky part is realizing what kind of impact your friends will have on your life, before it’s too late. Make sure that if you don’t like it, you have people around you who are ready and willing to help you build the life you want.

Photo Courtesy: HBO/Entourage