Have you ever been told to surround yourself with high-speed Soldiers and wondered why?
I recall my husband referring to the phrase early in our marriage. At the time, I related the concept to what my mom had instilled in me from childhood. She would say, “Kimbo, you are the company you keep, so pick your friends wisely.”
The notion of surrounding one’s self with winners is most likely a familiar concept due largely to our parents and grandparents repeating it over and over throughout our youth.
It wasn’t until my teenage years, when my greatest acts of stupidity reigned supreme, that my mom’s mantra on the subject changed from a gentle reminder to an unsympathetic warning that called-out friends by name followed by a laundry list of certain perils that would surely follow.
Of course, I knew it all and didn’t listen, which resulted in a reserved seat in in-school-suspension for most of my sophomore and junior years.
While the definition of a good friend varies from person to person, most would agree that it is someone who demonstrates ethical behaviors and decision making, respects themselves and others, takes responsibility for their mistakes, and encourages others to do and be their best.
We are cautioned to select our close friends with care for good reason. The more time we spend with someone close to us, the greater propensity to imitate their behaviors, adopt their opinions, and embrace their values — be it good or bad. Hence, the advice from parents and grandparents to pick wisely.
According to author and podcaster, Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with.”
In theory, the people whom we spend the most time with have an influential role in shaping our values, perceptions, and attitudes based on the law of averages.
We may interact with several people through the course of our lives but the circle of friends we are closest with have the greatest impact on the decisions we make, how we behave and how we are perceived.
The old adage, “A man is known by the company he keeps,” illustrates this point well. Essentially, the impression you make on others and their impression of you is based on the positive or negative characteristics and behaviors of the people you surround yourself with.
If your close friends are negative, abusive, disrespectful, bitter, petty, or in poor relationships, they have the potential to adversely impair your ethical reasoning, offset your moral compass, or skew your value system, all of which are the foundations of responsible decision making.
If those aren’t reasons enough, the consistent association with individuals of questionable character can also damage your credibility in the eyes of others.
As with most things, I had to learn this lesson— and many others — the hard way! As I’ve grown older, my mom has grown wiser. I finally understand the significance of the fundamental principles she sacrificed her hair color trying to impress upon me into well into my twenties.
Life experience has taught me to live by the friends on one hand rule, meaning that true, genuine friends are so rare that they can only be counted on one hand.
I’ve met several fair-weathered friends in my forty-plus years that have come and gone. Fortunately for me, I am blessed to count four positive, quirky, dynamic, strong, successful, inspirational women as my dearest friends despite distance or time.
I think having close friends who conduct themselves in a positive manner, in both word and deed, is key to staying on course down a successful path. It’s worth evaluating your closest relationships in respect to whether they play a positive or not-so-positive role in your live and in the choices you make.
And if you determine that a close friend could use some inspiration or guidance to make better choices, I encourage you to take the opportunity to help them get back on track. After all, that’s what friends are for!