Do you like who you are when you are with your friends? Jim Rohn, business philosopher, says that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I totally agree with this, and I have seen it modeled in my own life. If you look around, I am sure you see it in yours. But, who SHOULD you be spending your time with and who should you be avoiding? And how do you get around those people you want to be around?
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If Who You Spend Time With Is Who You Become then …. Who Do You Want to Be Around
- Child Test – Next time you are hanging with friends, ask yourself “would I want my kids (even if you do not have any) to be with these people?” If yes, you may have a winner. If no, then you need to ask yourself why you are not comfortable.
- Encouragement Test – You want to be around people who encourage and motivate you. Not that they need to complement you constantly, but they somehow inspire you to be a better you. These people are often willing to call you out when you need it.
- Model Test – Are they living the life you would like to be living. Something about them is admirable. Could be they are successful in your business field, or could be they are stronger Christian’s. Whatever it is, they model something you admire and want to be more like.
- Reciprocity Test – This is not a one way relationship, you can add value to their lives. You do not want to be a user or a predator (see below) so you want to make sure you add something into their lives also. Even if these people are mentors, you need to have something to offer in return. It may be just friendship or allowing them to guide you and help you – but they need something from you just as you need from them.
Who Should You Avoid
It is nice to talk about who we want to spend time with but who we should avoid is a tougher call – often because we are already heavily embedded with them. There have been times in my life when I looked up and realized I spent almost all of my time with the wrong people. One common way to realize this is that you find yourself doing things they do, and you do not like yourself for doing it.
This is a tough situation. So start with looking for why these people are the wrong people.
Note: Getting away from these people takes a lot of strength and courage, but the first step is identifying the problem.
Bad Influencers – This group can be full of fun and adventure – but in the end they are destructive.
- The Drama Queen – This person is always in a drama. They often need you, and often at bad times, such as late at night.
- The Deceiver – Mixed in with the drama king or queen is the deceiver. I do not mean people who tell you lies, that is likely all of us. I mean those who habitual twist the truth and deceive you. People who lie so often they begin to believe their own lies.
Predators – These kind of people drain you and your energy and motivation. Problem is, they are often people very close to us. I see many people who are dating in these destructive relationships.
Predators are often insecure and need you (or someone else) in order for them to feel important and needed. They can be hard to spot, and it is even worse if you are one.
- The Controller – They often will manipulate you into spending time with them through guilt. They may want to even dominate you and your time when you are at a party or around others. Signs of this is they answer questions for you, or when someone else is talking to you, they come up and get in the conversation and turn it back to themselves.
- Uses you – These people are all about them. They act like friends as long as they need something, but then they disappear until they need something again.
A great book on the subject of changing relationships is Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward.
How to Change Your Bad Influencer Network
1. Admit you cannot change them
Our first mistake is to think we can change someone. We see this most often when someone realizes they are dating the wrong person. They think “he or she is wonderful if they would only start….” and then they begin to justify it with all kinds of words.
– He/she is really a good person, just a little confused.
– He/she just needs to get away from their parents/friends/hometown and then they will be OK.
– He/she is really trying to change, it just takes time.
If you find yourself saying ANY of these things – look in the mirror and tell yourself you are now the deceiver. You are deceiving yourself and your friend. In fact, you might be part of the problem. They might change only when you get out of their life. They may need the wakeup call. You might be the bad influence. You might be their crutch. Either way, you have to take action to change you, not them.
2. Add in the right people
The best way to get away from the wrong people is to replace them with the right people. Get involved in something else. Go where the people who you want to be go. The classic is men and women who hang out in bars hoping to meet Mr or Miss Right.
When you do add in the good, expect turmoil. You have gotten comfortable with the drama. And your destructive friends will often make it difficult.
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