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Friends or Foes? – 5 Ways to Find the Right Buddies

Pick Your Friends Wisely

Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Warren G. Harding, and Harvey Firestone

It has been said that you are the average of your 5 closest friends. That means, in general, that your income, family structure, house and cars, even your personality are all pretty similar to the people you are around most often. Even though we are all unique, many of your daily actions and lifetime goals fit in pretty closely with the ambitions of your friends.

All parents have seen this happen whenever their child gets a new best friend. Their child starts to bring home different behaviors almost instantly. I am always amazed at how much my children change when they get a new class for school. It seems like the new peer group at school sends home a new vocabulary, an interest in different toys, changes in their taste in clothes, and sometimes a bad attitude. My children start to become more and more like the kids they play with at school.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Friends

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

It is no different for us as adults. We pick up mannerisms, ideas, and hobbies from the people around us. Sometimes these things are detrimental, sometimes they are beneficial. But all in all, they make up much of who we are. (In this post I’ve sprinkled in some pictures of famously successful people spending time with the people that push them to be better.)

So if our friends and co-workers have so much influence on our daily life and future success, shouldn’t we be picky about who we spend our time with?

A business leader once taught me that if I wanted to grow my business I needed to spend time with people who had already accomplished it. If I want to travel the world given motivational speeches, I need to find people who are already doing it and get closer to them. He told me that just by associating with them I would pick up on little ideas that would help me. My vision would be expanded and I would start to become a successful motivational speaker.

What did I do next? Nothing.

I thought, “Whatever, I can do this on my own through hard work and perseverance.”

Guess how often I got paid to speak? Never.

A few years later I decided to give it a try. I linked up with one of my favorite speakers, Rory Vaden, to host a speaking engagement at a local high school. While there I met one of the directors of the local chapter of the National Speakers Association. She got me connected with the community of public speakers in my area. I started contacting them and participating in the online discussions.

Well guess what happened? Within a few months I was contacted to give a keynote speech for a multi-day conference. Soon I had another opportunity to speak. What had I done different? Nothing other than associate myself with people who were doing what I wanted to be doing.

Is there an application to other areas of life?

Of course. Many of the greatest athletes train together. Small-business owners all over the world form networking groups with other business owners. You have a group of friends that you bounce ideas off of. Many of them might started branding with good resources.

Are you comfortable in your group? Probably. We tend to distance ourselves from people who don’t share similar views as us. So I would be willing to bet that most people feel pretty comfortable where they are right now.

What happens when you want to accomplish more?

Crosby, Sinatra, & Garland Friends Working Together

Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland

As your goals change, so will the dynamics of your relationships. You may be surprised to find that some of your closest friends will discourage you from chasing after your biggest goals. It isn’t that they don’t care about you or want you to be happy. Subconsciously they that if you succeed, it makes them not as good as you. So to avoid shaking the balance of your friendship, they want you to stay right where you are. (There is a whole psychology behind that called “The Scarcity Complex”).

Take a close look at your friends. Do they make you better or keep you the same?

If you don’t have at least one friend who pushes you to try new things or reach for your personal goals, go and find one. I have one friend who I really look forward to talking to because he is always supportive and excited about my goals. I try to be the same way with him. When we get done talking, I feel energized to go and be better at what I do.

I hope you have friends that inspire you but if you don’t, here are some tips for finding one:

1. Locate someone you know and admire. That person who is “everything you want to be”. As long as you are at least acquaintances, invite them to lunch or to go do something. Get to know them better.

2. Ask for advice. If there is someone who you think could be a good friend or mentor, ask them for advice. We all love to give advice because it strokes our ego a little bit. It means that we must be important if someone is asking us for advice. This will open doors for you that otherwise may have seemed unavailable.

3. Join the club. Find out where the successful people in your field hang out. Most of them are a part of at least one networking or collaborating group. Maybe it is the National Speakers Association. It could just as easily be Rotary Club, a book club, a Bunco group, a church, or a gym. Be a part of the group that is producing the type of people you want to be.

4. Be a friend to others. If someone could use your help or advice, be ready to give it. Maybe they are looking for someone to help them meet their goals or dreams. When we look to help others, we draw to us the people who can help us. It is a beautiful system.

5. Don’t be afraid to let a friend go. You may find that you have to let go of some friends who are holding you back or not supporting you. It can be difficult but it has been my experience that you will later realize how much they were draining your creative energy. Take a tough look at your closest friends and decide if they are pushing you forward or pulling you back. It doesn’t mean you have to completely ignore them or stop being their friend; just evaluate how they affect you.

I hope this article has helped remind you of the importance of strong, supportive friends. Your friends will determine much of your future success in all areas of life so choose them wisely and don’t be afraid to switch groups if you have to. You don;t want to be pulled down by people who don’t help you progress.


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