We are all given a limited amount of time in this life, and we all want to make the most of it. But how intentional are we about who we spend our time with? For good or for ill, the people we spend the lion’s share of our time with will impact who we become. Are your associations building you into the type of person you want to be?
Anyone Bringing You Down?
It’s been said that your income will be the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I contend that often your habits, worldview, and maybe even your physique will also tend to mirror that of the people you let into the moments and hours of your life. If you’re a part of a group of successful people, over time you’ll tend to build yourself into a successful person too. If you hang around with losers, you’re well on your way to becoming one.
Observe the Words
A good way to distinguish successful people whom you’ll want to model from the kind of people who’ll bring you down is to listen to what they’re predominantly talking about. Are they more positive and encouraging? Or do they spend a good deal of time speaking about others negatively? Is their conversation about future goals they have, and the means they’re planning to accomplish those goals? Or are there frequent diatribes of blame: I’d be better off but for what so and so did; If I weren’t so unlucky, I wouldn’t have all these problems. A person who you want shaping your character will be speaking positively about future events more than he’ll be speaking negatively about past ones.
One quick disclaimer before you think I recommend sitting in your own personal ivory tower looking down on all the poor untouchables down there: there is a distinction between choosing to be part of a toxic circle of friends and spending time with people in order to evangelize, mentor, or disciple them. The former is hazardous to your future, the latter is vital. Only make sure that you’re spending enough time with strong leaders that you are strong enough yourself to influence a weaker group, rather than being influenced by it.
Can I Do That?
But where can I find a group of strong and godly leaders? Why would they want to hang out with me? I have two answers to this point—a short term and a long term answer. First, you already know a few winners, and I think if you’ll spend a few moments considering it, you can think of few high-quality people in your life who’d answer your phone call. Start there. As you intentionally work on those relationships, you’ll be exposed to other winners naturally, and better than that, you’ll actually start to see and recognize the qualities of good leaders in those around you. And one great thing about strong, godly, successful leaders is that they absolutely love to help people like you who are looking to grow themselves!
Own Your Time
Limit your time around negative people. Particularly if your core group is of this sort, you’ll have a hard time keeping your distance, but you must gradually ramp down the time and replace it with time with positive role models. If your negative group is family, you’ve got an even more challenging task. But you must do it—for your good and ultimately theirs. Get strong enough over time by being with winners that you’re capable of being around the weaker group and influencing those people positively. And finally, recognize that you can create boundaries with people—even if those boundaries make people mad. In fact, if your boundary makes a person mad, they’ve just identified themselves as the kind of person that you definitely need to set boundaries with! A winner will respect others’ boundaries, and even if he feels slighted, he’ll approach you in a gentle and respectful manner, because that’s how winners behave.
Simple, Not Easy
Today’s lesson can be a tough one to live, particularly if the discussion of “toxic groups” brings the names of a few close friends to mind. But just as the flight staff tells you to put your own oxygen mask on before helping your child, the best way to help your negative friends is to become a real leader yourself. We’re here for you along the way, as is our Father in heaven. Follow Him first and you’ll never be last.