arts-and-crafts-close-up-collaborate-951236There is no wiser advice than the saying, “Choose your friends wisely.” Why?  Because who we spend our time with significantly impacts our success. Our peers either inspire us to achieve our potential, or they give us an excuse to do less than our best.

For example, I have a friend whose daughter spent her college years with some fairly unmotivated young people.   Not surprisingly, when graduation day came, none of them had jobs. Now for most college graduates, that would be a cause for panic. After all, college is expensive, and their parents had just spent a lot of money to send them.

However, these kids weren’t worried. They all decided to go home, live with their parents and take low-level jobs. They didn’t motivate each other to use their college degrees to make something of themselves.

Our peers can drive us to success or to mediocrity. You even see this “peer effect” with things as simple as our health. How often do you see families in which every family member is overweight? All too often. When the people you live with eat junk food and watch television every night, it is hard to be the only one who eats healthy foods and goes to the gym.

It may sound callous, but if you want to be successful, you have to be strategic about who you spend your time with. At the end of the day, success isn’t about brains. There are lots of very smart underachievers out there. Success is about choosing to be around the right people, those who will inspire you to be amazing.

For example, my daughter is a bright kid. And she gets stellar grades. But I don’t attribute her grades simply to her brains. She gets great grades because she hangs out with kids who are hard workers.

Many of my daughter’s friends are first generation immigrants. Their parents made major sacrifices to come to the U.S.  As a result, they expect their kids to get top notch grades and achieve the American Dream. And these kids do it! They are academic rock stars.

By hanging out with kids who set a high standard for themselves, my daughter has ended up doing the same. These teens aren’t partying, having sex, and playing video games in their free time. They are achieving. They are incredibly impressive young people.

Even with respect to the way we conduct ourselves, it helps to surround ourselves with people who strive to be highly ethical. For example, there are lots of people who like to judge others and gossip. Those folks can be very friendly and fun, but that is their character flaw. If you spend too much time with people like that, inevitably, you will start judging and gossiping about others too.

Keep people who bad-mouth others at a distance. Sometimes that is hard to do when they are family members (every family has at least one gossip!). But at a minimum, try to avoid in engaging in gossip with them.

It is easy to go down the path of judging others. None of us is perfect and anyone can be picked apart. Better to align yourself with people who are kind and compassionate. I have a friend who is incredibly compassionate. Anytime I go down the road of being judgmental, he stops me. He reminds me that most people are doing the best that they can with the limitations that they have. He inspires me to be more compassionate toward others.

Not only do high quality, successful people motivate you to be your best, but they will actively encourage you to be your best. That is because they aren’t threatened by your success.

Successful people are confident. As a result, they don’t insult other people or hurt their feelings. Why? Because they are confident in their own abilities. They don’t need to put others down to feel better about themselves.

People who lack confidence are dangerous. They may not physically harm you, but they will try to undercut your confidence with a carefully chosen insult (or backhanded compliment). You don’t want them in your life. And if you have to deal with them, you want to keep them at a distance.

Better to surround yourself with highly successful, confident people. For instance, I have been blessed with supervisors at my jobs over the years who were highly confident professionals. Not only did they regularly give me positive feedback, but they encouraged me to do my best in all things. I owe each of them an incredible debt of gratitude.

It sounds very harsh, but if you want to be a person of excellence, you have to carefully choose who you associate with. Certain people will inspire you to be your best. Others will keep you in mediocrity.

This week, consider who you choose to spend your time with. Are you spending your time with people who are going to put you on the path to success? Or are you spending your time with people who are going to drag you down professionally and personally? As the saying goes, “Choose your friends wisely.”

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Books: “The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother” by Meerabelle Dey ( )

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