Why is it that so few of us eventually realize our true potential? Why haven’t you haven't made plans or taken action on a side venture or passion project? How many of your ideas have been stifled before they've had the chance to bloom?
The harsh reality and answer to these questions is, much of your losses and inadequacies are a result of whom you associate with.
“But you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn't making you stronger, they're making you weaker.” - Tim Ferriss
As this quote by Tim Ferriss plainly denotes, much of your personality is defined by the relationships you share with other people. Your mentality on life, love, the pursuit of happiness, your self-esteem and simply the way you view the world are all affected. Individuality exists, but as humans we have this incredible ability to adapt to the environment around us. Sometimes this is beneficial; other times it’s not.
What do the five closest members of your social circle say about you? How similar are you when it comes to your goals, position in life and point of view?
I don’t care if you’re a supremely talented visionary genius, with charisma of John F. Kennedy and the mental drive of Mike Tyson. If your closest relationships are among friends with negative mindsets, pessimistic attitudes and lack of ambition, you are going to be affected by their influence. If your social circle isn’t building you up, it’s dragging you down, as Ferriss said in so many words.
On August 10, 2012, one of college football’s most polarizing stars was dismissed from Louisiana State University. Tyrann Mathieu, aka The Honey Badger, was let go for failing multiple drug tests, allegedly for marijuana. Had Mathieu played out at LSU, it was almost certain that he would have been a first round pick. By letting his draft stock tank, Mathieu missed out on at least three to four million dollars.
I’m sure that some of you are reading this, brainstorming ways to justify his failure. After all, the Honey Badger is still making millions playing in the NFL. But if this is the way you think, you'll never have more than one comma in your checking account. Mathieu missed out on the biggest opportunity of his life. He faced a setback as a result of making a poor decision, influenced by his social circle.
If there were millions of dollars on the line, would your friends be there to stop your destructive behavior? Or would they be persuading you all along, holding you back from greatness? You only live through your 20s once. It's the time to carpe diem, while your responsibilities are fairly low and any potential outcome of your future is high. Not all of us will get a second chance to make it.
In order to be successful, one must come to realize and accept two truths: some of your friends are unaspiring losers, and you need to remove them from your life.
This is absolutely vital for your success in life, especially as a post-graduate. If the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis aren’t helping you move forward toward your goals, then they’re holding you back. This includes friends, roommates, coworkers, girlfriends, boyfriends, parents, whoever. You are the sum of your social circle.
It’s not always intentional, but because some people fear change, they will do their best to prevent it from occurring. Some of your friends, who you believe are your supporters, don’t want you to advance for fear of things changing. They’re happy the way things are. Some people are just content with going out to the same bars every weekend, getting absolutely plastered and then laying on the couch hungover the next day watching Netflix and munching on General Tso’s. You can’t change those who lack ambition or steer those immersed in complacency away from it.
Just like you can’t fix a broken relationship where you’re no longer in love, you cannot help someone who isn’t willing to help his or herself. If he or she is in denial of his or her place in life and has zero motivation to change, you cannot change that.
While it’s out of your hands, you may still feel like you owe it to an unmotivated friend to help him or her out. After all of these years, you can’t help but feel guilty about abandoning a long-time friend. However, as difficult of a pill as it may be to swallow, you have to. If whatever state this friend in is all that he or she aspires to be, or if he or she is trying to lock you into a box of his or her perfect reality, it’s up to you to make the decision. Do you really want to settle for less, or do you want to be elite?
Is Cutting Your Friends Out Machiavellian?
In some ways, yes, but in life and business, you must be able to emotionally detach yourself when making decisions. However, chasing your dreams does not mean becoming a cold, elitist unable to associate with others. In fact, it’s completely the opposite.
What matters are those who you choose to surround yourself with -- those who genuinely support you and raise you up to succeed in your endeavors. To be amazing, you must surround yourself with amazing people -- people with drive, people with vision, people who want to take their lives places and accomplish the things that others only imagine. Surround yourself with people who could care less about what the haters, naysayers and keyboard warriors have to say. These people are everywhere, so if you’re not in the right place, get up and move.
As you build your new network of connections, you’ll become more excited about living. You'll see the opportunities before you and visualize how you’re going to dominate every single one of them. It’s an indescribable feeling being surrounded by people who are working towards a better tomorrow. The power of positive thinking has no boundaries.
The change begins with you. The desire to make a change in your world must ignite from the fire burning inside you. Ask yourself, how badly do you really want it?
I’ll end with a quote from Colin Powell that perfectly describes the harsh reality of letting go the naysayers in order to be better:
“The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.”
Photo credit: HBO/Entourage