145 – Friends Who Hold You Back

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Today’s episode is inspired by one of you…a listener.  This listener is named Rich, and he has written to me before.  I was really happy when I read Rich’s letter because he posed a very relevant question.

Rich has been listening for awhile now, he has been on the path of actually being a better man today than he was yesterday…and his question is;  what do you do with your friends that seem to have zero interest in improving?

I was so happy that Rich asked this question, because it is an inevitable one.  Rich probably never even noticed these friends of his were not interested in improving themselves until he started improving.  But, once you start to take action, once you start the process of becoming a better man, then these other guys will become obvious to you.

So now, there Rich is, being a better man and he has these friends who just don’t get it.  They obviously have not been listening to this podcast, and they are content to just drift along in life…becoming no better than they were the day before.  So, Rich wants to know what to do with these guys, and it’s a great question.

You have probably all heard the saying by now that you are the sum total of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  If you have not heard that…you are hearing it now.  It’s true…we are the sum total of the five people we spend the most time with.  I was resistant to this idea at first, but I have come to agree with it.

So how that works, is if you assign a number to everyone, a number from 1  to 10.  One is they are a complete loser, absolutely nothing going on in any capacity, and ten is they are a dynamic individual with great tons of potential and possibility.  Everyone you know becomes a number on this scale.

Now take the five people you spend the most time with.  For example lets say there is a 2, a 3, a 4, a 6 and one 8.   add those up and it equals 23.  23 divided by 5 = 4.6, that’s the average.  That means that if these are the five people you spend the most time with that you equal a 4.6.  On a scale of 1 to 10 that isn’t even average.

It sounds kind of harsh, but it’s really true.  If you want to be a millionaire then hang out with millionaires.  If you want to be a great auto mechanic…then you need to spend time with accomplished auto mechanics.  If you want to be a better man, then it would serve you well to find the best men you can, men that you respect and admire, and hang out with them.

At the very least, find other men that are committed to improving themselves.  It may not  be that easy, we are a rare breed these days, but those guys are out there. 

It may sound like I’m going to tell Rich to get rid of all his friends immediately…but I’m not.  I will advise Rich to stop spending much time with them though. 

I don’t believe in just cutting people out of your life without a word.  They are your friends after all…that means you are their friend too, and friends don’t just eliminate people.

However, that doesn’t mean you are obligated to spend excess time with them.  personally, I would just be straight with them. 

If it was me I would tell them; 

“Hey Joe, as you know I have become committed to really improving myself.  I’m trying to be a better man every day and correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you are not interested in that.  We have been friends a long time and I value our friendship, if you ever need anything please call me…but I want you to know I’m not going to be available on a regular basis, because I’m searching for other people like me who are committed to improvement.”

If you tell your friend Joe that, he may become offended.  He might tell you to piss off.  Or, if there is any hope for Joe he might realize that you are serious, that you are onto something, and decide to finally join you in your commitment to improvement.  Either way, it now becomes Joe’s problem, you have put the ball in his court.  You have done the honorable thing, you have been straight and honest so your conscience is clean. 

If your friend makes the decision to eliminate himself from your circle, great.  It’s possible you could lose all of your current friends like this because people do not appreciate their inadequacies to be illuminated.  For some reason people like other people to suffer with them.  That is the same reason why it is so important who we spend our time with.  Because it’s natural for people to try and pull you down to their level, so that they don’t have to feel as bad about where they are in life.

In the past I have been in this situation and I thought that I could be a good influence, and I was to a degree, but we are all subject to the law of osmosis.  If we surround ourselves with lesser men than us, then we will gradually become lesser ourselves.  I had to learn that lesson the hard way, I hope you don’t.

For some of you, you may have family members among the five people you spend the most time with, and you are wondering how that works in this formula.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our family.  It’s often more difficult to spend less time with family members, especially if we live with them.  The same rules apply though, if your family members are not interested in improving, find a way to spend less time with them, for your own sake.

Life is kind of like one big massive game of chess.  When I first learned how to play chess the only person I had to play with was my dad.  He was obviously much better than me, and I lost the first few hundred games we played.  Constantly losing was frustrating…but it was the only way I could improve my own game.  I did improve, I kept getting better until I ultimately beat him.

That’s how it works.  We must be challenged, we must have something to strive for otherwise we will atrophy and succumb to mediocrity.

Thanks again Rich for bringing this question to the forefront.  If any of you have a question or idea like Rich did, then just click on CONTACT ALF in the menu bar above, and write me a letter. 

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Alright guys, now head out into the big world and remember that you are the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with.  You have the right to discriminate and choose who you spend that time with.  You may feel an obligation to some of these people…but remember your highest obligation is to yourself, your family, and the people that you will influence by your life and example.  With that in mind, you see how important it is that you are a better man today, than you were yesterday…and then, keep doing that.

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