You Become the Company You Keep

You become the company you keep.

Another way of saying it is "you are the average of the X people you spend the most time with."

I believe WHO you invest most of your time with is the most important decision of your life.

In the right company, most things seem easy. Often you can see the trail of a group of people rendezvousing every here and there overlapping companies and organisations and wonderful things happen. You don’t have to be one of those to have magic happening to you.

Create your own magic. Create your own group of people doing the work that matters. You can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. So if you find you’re not getting the support you wish, nor having those around you value and act on the support you give, then it is up to you to find new people to help and to encourage. Afterwards, you’ll find that you’re on the path to building that group of masterminds that align to what you value. Towards what you want to help create in this world.

I attended a coaching course this week (Lego Serious Play, detailed info here) where one of the things we talked about is how lasting the hurt of criticism can be, and how much power there is in encouragement: in helping to see the viewpoint of our teammate. Criticism really makes it harder for your company to do better now and next time. Be mindful and wary of that. Try to seek and include more people around you that boost you, that empower you to do better with way more encouragement. When they feel the need to criticize they should know where the source of those feelings come from. If it’s internal coming from themselves, they can always opt to re-voice their thoughts of criticism in another way to encourage a better version. Note that criticism serves an important purpose but it should be used with respect since it is most often hurtful, thus use it with care.

Be kind to people because you never know what people struggle with that isn’t shown on the outside. You never know what the previous bag of hurt someone else is carrying and your criticism might accidentally hit without them saying. Being kind is also a great get together with other people who are kind and who wants to help.

Why do I believe this is the most important decision in your life? Because if you hang around with people who will encourage you to archive great things and who believe in you the reason is that, in essence, they believe in themselves and their own power to create great things. You will go further in life.

The mirror neurons in your brain will learn from their successes. Learn from their manners, from their behaviors: small things on how they talk and settle things on the phone. How they encourage themselves and others to clarity, courage and knowing when to dare to take a leap despite trembling legs. When to listen to those tired legs and award themselves some rest and rejuvenation. Because they’ve been there. Because they too know how to fumble and be new at something. Because they too trust that with grit and willpower which you will learn to master too even if you’re in the dip right now.

Because study after study shows that parents who actively look for things to praise their kids with will see more of those. In return, it is helping their kids grow. It’s the exactly the same thing with managers, even if you might have to set the boundaries and challenge level higher.

If you surround yourself with people who enjoy looking for things you’re doing well, who actively enjoy supporting those tasks that challenge you, will both lean to you for peer insight and as well as time to time have gone a step before you. Or listening to your wisdom on parts of your life where you are ahead of them… you will go further. You will have a greater impact.

Another incentive for you to make this happen is that MRI scan studies show that our brains actually align when talking to people we like. And if you’re impressed by their friendship and their results – isn’t that a great thing for you?

Isn’t it wonderful to invest time with people who challenge you and help your mind soar high above, yet keeping your feet grounded and your hands on the plow of the hard work that’s required of making it happen? These are people you’re just happy and thankful to spend time with. Suddenly, you’ve both achieved something that makes all of you happy for each other’s sake?

These things might seem simple and obviously easy when looking at groups of awesome from afar. Yet here we stand, confused and sometimes not knowing how to archive it.

You can’t change your past, your childhood, and other people but you CAN choose to re-arrange how you invest your time. (Unless you’re imprisoned. I’ve read somewhere, that the option to choose who spend your time with is the major loss when imprisoned. The mind and most other of our arts are still free to soar).

Start by becoming aware of where you invest most of your time. Start by honestly asking yourself: am I doing work for things that matter to me? Am I getting the impact I dreamt of as a kid?

Then, once you know that, ask yourself who you’re doing what with the most. Look towards people doing the work that matters to you and ask yourself, how can I help them? Start with something small and re-apply until you notice something stick. If you’ve never done it before, you’re likely to fail a couple of times but that doesn’t matter. You’re doing this primarily to be kind, to help and not to receive.. but if you feel you’re not getting what you intended out of it just disengage and retry with someone else.

Aim for small things like sharing a lunch. It could be anything. Don’t throw half your week at this. Ensure you still deliver all you’ve promised and squeeze something small in. And once you’ve got that going well, squeeze in some more until you’ve got a plate full of the work that matters to yourself and let go of things that aren't part of that plate.

Surround yourself with people who act. It's easy to talk about how things should be, and gossip might feel good for a while but both things actually make things worse in the long run so it's better to just step away. Otherwise, you’ll never be “free” to surround yourself with people who act. Remember that predicting the right thing might be impressive, but its actually preparing and creating something to harvest is what makes a difference. Be one of those that act and take initiative and people who matter will follow you… eventually. This is NOT a quick-fix to get new friends. This is to ensure you’re surrounded with people who you love and who love you back for the long haul. This is the way of building longlasting relationships.

This will NOT happen by itself. This will happen when you start and keep at it for a while, learning as you go. NOT taking action is the same as digging yourself harder at where you are. The earlier you show yourself that you can take a small step, the easier it is. Your future self will thank you. As will the world, since you’ll be making the world a better place

If you prefer seeing it from the business side:

Ever thought about why the managers who deliver great results and retain their people, focus so much more on the important order in which “who does what by when”. These are people that really changes what is possible by when in a big way. Most of the time you can’t replace 'who' without also affecting the result. If you can replace the 'who' without also affecting the result, you're not asking the individual to stretch; to really do the important work that matters big time. You're not really getting the most out of the individual, nor is the individual getting the most out of this work.

Here are some quotes from some smart people to get you inspired to take action on this:
Perhaps their wise words will make you see who you want to approach?.. or let go?

These are just some quotes that make my day and makes me know I'm with "my" people. What quotes will help you identify yours? What behaviors should you be on the lookout for?
What behavior should you show yourself to attract them?

Don't underestimate the power of your "just one" person around who vent their frustration without taking any actions themselves/complains/etc over time. Don't underestimate the power of not choosing your own path.

Give yourself the investment of really great relationships & friends, if only for a few minutes more per week for starters.