In general, the two of you have done very well in your choice of friends over the years. You’ve heard and understood the principle that the people you hang with, influence and shape the person you become. And, as you’ve probably come to conclude, when you’ve gone through some rough patches over the years, it’s usually been because of a relationship (or group of relationships) you’ve formed. However, for the most part, the two of you have done exceedingly well in this area.
But, as you now enter this next stage of life, you’re going to need to take that up a notch. You’re going to need to be more intentional about choosing who you’re going to spend time with. Why? Because who you hang out with, will influence who you become. And while your earlier years were somewhat defined by your mother and me, as well as where we lived; your lives from this point forward are wide open—and will be defined by you.
And what you’re probably going to find is that most of the people you’re going to encounter don’t want to get better. They like the thought of getting better, but they really don’t want to do what’s necessary to get better (which is why I say that most people don’t want to get better—remember, actions always speak louder than words).
Now, when it comes to the two of you, you both have virtually unlimited potential—but you’ll never fully develop that potential alone. Since social learning theory is correct (we become like those we spend time with), if you want to tap into that potential, you’re going to need to be very intentional about who you spend your time with. And my recommendation is that you should constantly be looking for people who are better (or beyond) you–in whatever you want to improve in–and then spend time with them.
For example, when it comes to your work, find out who the best performers are in your field of work–and spend time with them. Ask them to mentor you. Volunteer to serve on committees with them. Take a cut in pay if you must to work with them. Study them. Take them out to lunch. Ask lots of questions. Do work on the side for free for them. And guess what? You’ll be rewarded for the rest of your lives for all the time you spent with them.
Also look for people outside of your workplace who are better than you at something. It could be their ability to network and build relationships. It could be their ability to listen and make people feel great. It could be the quality of their relationship with their spouse or kids. It could be their ability to lead people. It could be their skill set related to the kind of work you do. It could be their time management skills. Etc.
In other words, it’s not the specific issue that matters as much to me (or you)—as it is that you’re being intentional about hanging out with people who are better than you.
In general, the people won’t don’t really want to get ahead almost always choose to hang out with people who are either just like them or people with whom they perceive themselves to be better than. Why? Because they want to feel good about who they are and where they are in life.
But if you want to unleash the full potential that is in you, you need a higher standard. You need to surround yourself with people who will help draw out the greatness that is within you. And for that, you need to hang with people who are better than you.
In essence you need to be like the linebacker who chooses to run sprints with the running backs, even though he loses every time. If he wanted to, he could run sprints with the other linebackers and be the winner of every sprint—but why? He’d remain the same. By running sprints with the running backs, even though he loses every race—he knows he’s getting better/faster with every sprint.
That’s who you want to be! You want to be the person who’s running with the running backs. Why? Because you cannot become the person God created you to be by remaining as you are. You’ve got to get better. And one of the great keys to getting better at anything is to be intentional about hanging out with people who are better than you at that thing. So, make sure you choose carefully with whom you’re going to spend your time! Don’t just let it happen.