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Surround Yourself With Success

You must look into other people as well as at them.

Lord Chesterfield

When I first heard of surrounding myself with success, it was not only a foreign concept in that I had never heard of it before, but it was foreign on the most base level of my understanding of social relationships and how they affect the individual.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.¬† First, I’ll let you in on what exactly I’m talking about when I say surrounding myself with success:¬† I’m referring to the people in my life, and surrounding myself with people who are successful rather than those who are stagnating or those who do not share the same goals as myself/are not actively working towards them.

Okay, so now that you know what exactly I’m talking about when I say ‘surrounding myself with success,’ I can confidently tell you that it was a foreign concept to me.¬† I had never thought about it and I never wanted to think about it because it meant that if I was serious about being successful I was going to have to make some big changes in my social life.

You probably will too, but not to worry, I’ll cover that.¬† First I’m going to talk a little bit about why you would want to surround yourself with success and what the difference would be between who you are now and who you might become.

Think of the 2 – 5 people you spend the most time with on a regular basis:¬† This includes friends, family, co-workers and people you don’t even particularly like.¬† If you’re spending the majority of your time on a regular basis with these people (Let’s say over the last six months.) then they belong on this list.

Got them?  Okay, good.  As a collective group, how do you view these people?  Are they successful in the ways that you want to be?  Are they moving towards that success in any way?  Are they positive people?  Are they negative people?  What do they do in their spare time?  Do they spend all their time out at a bar spending their money on drinks for a good time, or do they spend some of it improving themselves and some of it on recreational activities?

There are a bunch of questions you can ask yourself about the group you’ve come up with, but the chances are that you’ve already asked all the questions and you already know all the answers.¬† That’s just human nature.

When you’ve answered all or most of the questions I’ve listed above, answer this one:¬† If you were exactly like them, would you be satisfied with where your life is now and where it seems to be going?¬† To rephrase it, is this group of people heading in the same direction you want to be heading?

It’s a pretty simple question, and one that you’ll no doubt have the answer to almost immediately; But the answer is important due to its implications.

However you view those people reflects on you two ways:¬† First and probably most apparently, others view you as part of the same group.¬† So if you don’t like the way your group of people looks, realize that you are also a part of the group and that is reflecting on you.¬† To most others, you are coloured the same colour as those in your group.¬† All their strengths and faults are also yours.

Secondly, you will become (If you haven’t already.) like those you spend the most time with.¬† Sometimes the change is slow and takes several years, sometimes it’s shorter and most of the time you don’t even realize that it’s happening, but it does happen.¬† Those who are negative all the time tend to rub off on even the most positive of people, causing them to eventually lose their positive demeanour.

And the same is true of success.¬† If those people you’re spending your time with waste all their time on frivolous activities (Substance use/abuse is a big one here.) then that will eventually rub off on you too.¬† Furthermore, even if you’re not doing the same things they’re doing like drinking or smoking or even something as harmless as bowling, you will be seen as the same.¬† A drinker, smoker or a bowler.¬† It doesn’t matter that you’re not actually doing those things because those you are spending all your time with do.¬† And when people think of you, they automatically associate you with those you spend your time with.

That sounds unfair, and it is, but it’s also the truth of what we do as human beings.¬† We love things in a category– it makes it easier for the mind to deal with.¬† Instead of having to constantly re-evaluate the traits of the individual it is much easier to find the appropriate box they fit into and just slot them neatly away into the appropriate category.

You might already know where I’m going with this, so I’ll finally get to the crux of this post:¬† While surrounding yourself with people who are negative and who are not on the track you want to be on reflects both on how people see you and on your own attitudes, so too does surrounding yourself with positive, successful people.

If you want to be someone who graduates from college/university and you’re currently in high school or just out of high school, then seek out others who want to do the same thing and are tangibly moving towards that goal. You’ll find a lot of people might share that goal, but that much fewer are actually actively putting in the effort to achieve it.

The same would apply if you were already out of school and wanted to get a post-secondary degree.  Find those who are either doing what you want to do or have already done it and start spending time with them.  They will rub off on you.

The same goes with financial issues, social issues, moral issuesРpractically everything.  You want  to find people who are actively moving towards the goals and the attitudes you want to have in life and maximize your time with them while minimizing your time with those who do not fit with your dreams for yourself.

That’s not to say that those who are not moving towards the same goals and attitudes as you want to are bad people, or even that they don’t want to also be moving towards those goals– it’s entirely possible that they do.¬† But despite the fact that they are good people, their actions are not, and spending the majority of your time with them will ensure you get stuck in the same kind of position they’re in now.

If those you’re spending time with are successful and are doing what you want to do, that turns out really well.¬† If they’re not, then the result is not as pleasing either.

I know how difficult it can be to turn your social circle upside down when you’re trying to make a change like this, but nonetheless if you’re serious about making change in your life and finding something better for yourself, it’s most likely a change you’re going to need to make.¬† The sooner the better.

But don’t be afraid of change.¬† There are six billion people on the planet, and there are definitely a huge hoard of people out there who want to do the same things you do and are working towards making those a reality.¬† There’s lots of positive thinkers and people who take action on their dreams.¬† Those who are actively making it happen instead of sitting on their sofas and thinking: ‘One day…’

It’s not easy, but making the changes that will enable you to live your dreams never are.¬† You can do it.¬† Anyone can.

4 Responses to “Surround Yourself With Success”

  1. Mathieu says:

    Thomas,

    Loved your post. It’s been something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. But I really have to contend a point of yours. Many of my friends are “substance users” (i.e. cigarettes, beer) – they are also very financially successful. In this respect, I let one positive dump out the negative. Not everyone needs to be a vegan, exercising, CEO, etc type to be successful financially. And since I believe I have my life ordered in terms of:

    1. relationships
    2. health
    3. family
    4. job

    …I can focus on being friends with people that KNOW HOW TO MAKE MONEY!! Something that I have found particularly difficult and is quickly becoming a top priority of mine. At the same time, I am actively moving away from “success” based on other people’s ideas. My own success is my own success. I am my own God. All my ideas cannot be contended.

    Keep bloggin’ brutha

    • Tom says:

      Actually I completely agree with that, though I don’t think I was very clear in my post in that respect.

      No one is perfect, and you’re always going to find people who excel in one area of life and falter in another– that’s just part of being human. But there are routinely people who are substance abusers, aren’t going to school, aren’t making money, aren’t really going anywhere. When I referred to substance abusers, I was referring to those who fall under the ‘not doing anything with their life’ category.

      There are lots of people who like to spend the free time they get when they’re done with their job, or taking a break from their business or even when they get some free time with school, and that’s their choice. It’s certainly still possible to excel while maintaining that kind of lifestyle.

      But I do maintain that if you’re trying to avoid that kind of lifestyle, you still need to be careful. You may be learning from their money making skills or their social skills but you will also take after their substance use if you spend enough time with them. If you’re one of the few rare people who can resist the peer pressure and still hang out with the group (I had one such friend when I was hanging out with drinkers and smokers routinely.) then all the power to you. However you’re still going to run into the problem of being viewed as part of that group, which may hurt other relationships you’re trying to cultivate.

      Thanks for the comment. I love discussing these things, and I especially enjoy differing opinions!

  2. Nicole Wray says:

    I’m glad I came across this. I just graduated from university where it was pretty easy to surround myself with people who have similar goals. Now that my social and living situation has changed, I’ve realized how important it is to hold onto those people who do have goals and aspirations and to move away from those who are most often just too lazy to keep growing after university.

    • Tom says:

      University is a huge sticking point for a lot of people. I find that often people think that once they’re done school, they’re done– the hard work is over. They can find a comfy job and relax, working 9-5 and never worrying about learning again.

      Companies complain about it, but more importantly I think it’s important to always be seeking knowledge and bettering yourself. That’s hard to do when you hang around those who are complacent.

  3. [...] talked about this in my post about choosing who you associate with and that who you spend the most time with is not only how other people view you, but how you will [...]

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