Throughout my leadership journey, I’ve learned a lot by reading, and listened to many CDs on LIFE and leadership. One principle I’ve learned about that has come up often is the power of association. Although I might not have the results to show the truth of all the leadership principles yet, this is one I can vouch for from my past experiences.
There is many quotes that can be found about what the right, or wrong association can do. For example, Robert Kiyosaki says that your income will be the average of your 5 closest friends, and so it makes good financial sense to hang out with wealthy individuals. Claude Hamilton said to be careful who you hang around with, because if you hang around with bank robbers, you’ll probably end up robbing a bank one day; or at least drive the getaway car.
I can look back throughout my whole life, and see the influence of others around me, be it good or bad.
When I was in elementary school, I never had the best grades, and always thought of myself as too lazy for school. I didn’t like homework (like every other kid I’ve ever heard of) and didn’t see the need for it since I didn’t believe it would improve my grades very much. I kept telling myself I was too lazy to be any good, and what I was telling myself defined my early childhood. I’ll admit right now that my laziness never really went away, though I feel I’ve been doing a good job getting around that as time went on. I had mediocre school grades until grade 10. I didn’t realize it back then, but one of the main reasons my marks improved, was because of a new group of friends that I hung around with. One of my closest friends that I started hanging around with was named Marc, and he did very well in school. He always showed up early before classes and did homework; at least until I showed up and got him to play cards! Through Marc I met other friends who also did very well in school, and it was around this time that my grades went up. I started wanting to get good grades and impress my friends. I didn’t want to be the outcast. I started actually doing my homework, studying, and ended up graduating from high school with honors.
You might look at this and say it wasn’t my friends that made me smart, but that I had it in me all along. However, If it wasn’t for my friends, I probably would never have been driven to do what I needed to do to succeed. My potential was there, but it was my association with my friends that brought it out.
Things went downhill once I reached cegep, which is a school in Quebec that comes after high school, but before university. I started off well, getting grades in the 80s and 90s during my first year. Then I was hanging out with people who did drugs and skipped class often. Guess what I ended up doing? Luckily I never got heavily into it, but at this time my grades dropped like a rock, and I even ended up failing a semester so bad that I had to wait a year before I could go back. This happened because I started hanging out with different people, and they influenced me in different ways. Now that I look back, I’m happy they weren’t bank robbers!
Throughout the next few years I was hanging out with different types of people, and always developing similar habits. One of these people was a manager I had when I worked at a Tim Horton’s, who kept telling me how good I was. I had not thought I was a hard worker or that I was good at the job, but between him and my friend Linda (a very hard worker who I became friends with), I wanted to work harder. I developed a drive to succeed in everything I was doing. I was even able to get promoted to management positions at a couple of my jobs, which started with this manager getting me promoted to supervisor. Would this have happened if I stayed with the friends that did drugs everyday? Probably not.
A year and a half ago, I started hanging out with yet a new group of friends that I met through a business opportunity. These friends are interested in success and leading a better life. The past year and a half, since I’ve been on this leadership journey, my life has been amazing. It keeps getting better and better, and this would not have been the case if I hadn’t started hanging out with a group of people who are also striving to improve their lives.
You might say I’m just easily influenced and that this is not the case for most people, and not the case for you. You may be right in that I’m easily influenced, but everyone is influenced in the end, even if not to the degree that I have been. I’m not saying you need to stop being friends with people just because they are not headed in the direction you want to go. I’m still friends with everyone, I just don’t hang around with them as much anymore. I choose to hang out with people that will get me to where I want to be in life. I want to have a good attitude so I hang around with people who have good attitudes. I want to be successful in my family life, and with my finances. I want build great friendships and have lots of fun. I want to be happy and free. If I choose to hang out with people with similar goals and results in life, I can have all of that. What do you want from life? Where do you want to be in the next 5 or 10 years?
The people you hang around with the most will have the most influence on you and the direction you take. Be careful who you let influence you; you might end up with their results.