What kind of people do you surround yourself with?
The Law of Attraction or the Law of Magnetism would say that you attract and surround yourself with people similar to yourself. I think if we look around society, we would agree. The rich usually group together with the rich. The positive with the positive. The negative with the negative. The athletes, the computer programmers, the historians, and the artists all tend to find themselves surrounded by people with similar interests, disposition, socioeconomic status, etc.
Have you ever stopped to wonder if your group of friends is indicative of the type of person you are, or whether you are a product of the group of people around you? Did you draw them to you, or did you change to become like them?
I belong to a wonderful group of philanthropic dentists called the Crown Council. One of our mantras is “Birds of a feather flock together, and flocking causes birds to be of a feather.” You will naturally surround yourself with people like you. But you can actively choose another “flock” and become like them.
I am reminded of the story of a father and son who were driving through the countryside and came upon a farm to ask directions. As the father spoke with the farmer, the young boy wandered over to the pen where the chickens were out scratching in the yard. Moments later, the boy came running back to his father and said, “Dad, there is an eagle in with the chickens!” Not believing him, the man continued talking with the farmer. Again the boy returned and said, “Dad, you have to come see this eagle.” The father told his son that it couldn’t be an eagle and began to apologize to the farmer for the interruption. The farmer stopped him and said, “It’s okay. There is an eagle in there.”
In disbelief the man walked over to the fence where his son stood pointing. There he saw a bald eagle walking around on the ground pecking for food in the dirt. The man could not believe it. He turned to the farmer and asked, “How in the world did this happen?” The farmer laughed and said he found the eagle when it was a baby. It had fallen out of its nest in a storm and was injured. He brought it home, weened it back to health and put it in with the chickens because it didn’t know how to fly yet. Time passed and the eagle grew but never learned how to fly. In fact, it never seemed like it wanted to. It was happy to be in with the chickens, eating seeds and digging for worms.
In the story, the father was absolutely right. An eagle had no business walking around on the ground digging for worms. Eagles are meant to soar. But if you put an eagle with a group of chickens, sooner or later, it will act like a chicken.
Who are you flocking with?
Again I ask, what have the people around you helped you to become? Have they lifted you or brought you down. Do you feel happier around them or more negative? Do they have the same types of goals that you do? Are they positive and uplifting? Do you feel like you are always the one holding the friendship together? Do your friends make you want to be a better person?
If the people you associate with don’t push you to be better, then it is highly unlikely that you will have the energy and support to follow your goals or dreams. You know the type of person I’m talking about. They are like motivation vampires. They just suck the excitement out of you.
But when you are surrounded by people who are motivated to improve their lives, you will suddenly find that you are more productive and proactive about chasing self-improvement. Just being around them makes you want to work harder towards your goals so that you can feel comfortable in the group.
#1. Take an inventory of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Are they what you want to become, or are you happy you aren’t more like them? If it is the latter, guess what, you are becoming more like them every day. If it is the former, congratulations, you are becoming more like them every day.
#2. Decide who is bringing you down or holding you back and cut them loose. Okay that sounds a bit harsh. I wouldn’t say you should ever completely get rid of someone as a friend. They might need you. But you can add someone else to the mix who brings you more happiness and choose when to associate with a negative person. Just remember, they are influencing you as much as you influence them. You will end up meeting somewhere in the middle and that is NOT what you want.
#3. Look for people who are already the way you want to become. Most people know somebody who has accomplished a lot of what we want to accomplish some day. Find a way to get closer to them. When I graduated dental school, one of the first things I did was find the “top dentists” in my city and go to talk with them about how to be successful and happy as a dentist. We didn’t become friends but just my association with them has greatly accelerated my progress and fulfillment in my profession. You don’t have to be best friends with someone you admire but you should try to find as many opportunities as possible to be around them.
#4. Be picky about your flock. As you form your group of friends and acquaintances, be picky about who you give your time and energy to. They will decide who you become. You don’t have to devote yourself to someone who doesn’t build you up.
In the end, you are the sum of your friends. Choose them wisely. They will decide who you can become.
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