3 Reasons To Choose Your Friends Wisely

The secret has been out. The most important decision is who you decide to keep around. Those people will have the biggest impact on the trajectory of your life. You can only do so much on your own. Most people have recognized this by now. Yet, awareness is only the first step to building a life changing tribe.

In sociology the Five Chimps Theory gets referenced a lot. It states the behavior and mood of one chimp is the average of the five chimps they spend the most time with. The same principles hold true for us as human beings.  

Thomas Jefferson was one of the best entertainers during his time. He was able to charm and delight everyone he met, even his political enemies. How was this the case?

His secret was choosing the right people to entertain based on the qualities they had. Jefferson hosted intimate parties with both his friends and enemies. He realized that becoming more charismatic was easy. Surround yourself with interesting people. 

The people around Jefferson built him up, but also did the work of charming others for him. They raised the sentiment his guests had associated with him.

Thomas Jefferson looked for simple qualities in the people that he would choose to be around. As a result his friends provided him 3 overwhelming benefits.

Emotional Osmosis

We pick up on the emotions of those around us. It’s cliche to say “misery loves company”, but people that are unhappy do not want to be alone in their suffering. No one understood emotional osmosis better than Napoleon Bonaparte.

Napoleon surrounded himself with people that had the qualities he admired most, like Talleyrand. Talleyrand had a way with other people. He had wits and charm. Napoleon tried to keep him as close as possible. 

Changing and picking up on the qualities Talleyrand had through osmosis. Had Talleyrand not possessed the characteristics he did, Napoleon would not have developed the level of influence he had.

The people around you will infect you with their qualities. Avoid people that have your defects at all costs. Be around those that reinforce your positive characteristics. Through osmosis they'll continue to build you up.

Jefferson only wanted to be around people that were educated (a rare quality in colonial America), curious, voracious readers, and in constant pursuit of knowledge. These people created a pleasant atmosphere. One filled with insightful conversations, wits, and laughter. An atmosphere that can only be crafted through the diffusion of strong characters.

Stand Among Giants

The best companies are successful because they hire remarkable people. Steve Jobs attributes the success of Apple to finding and only hiring “A team players”. He found that if you do the work to find these “A team players” they like being around each other. 

It’s so rare to find others that perform on those levels. Choosing the people you spend time with is the same process as choosing the people you'll hire.

These people are hard to find and even harder to stomach. The ego of most managers cannot handle the person below them outshining their work. A thriving company must exist this way. Most people cannot handle their friends being more impressive than themselves. You have to break this toxic habit. Constructive friendships exist this way.

My close friends are doing way cooler things than I am. For example: 

  • One of my friends is running a 7 figure eLearning business. 
  • Two of my friends are running an automation agency together. Scaling to over 30k/month. Working with people doing interesting things in business.
  • Another one is running ads for a real estate mogul.

I’m not saying this to brag about how awesome my friends are (although I do believe they are all rockstars). When someone got promoted to the head of an office at Ogilvy & Mather, they received a Matryoshka doll. The smallest one had a note that read “If each of us hire people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.” Do you want to remain a dwarf because you cannot put your ego and envy aside to be around giants?

You'll never build a personal development team if you don't control your ego and emotions.

Jefferson surrounded himself by giants and others took note. John Quincy Adams once said, “You can never be an hour in this man’s company without something of the marvellous.” If everyone around you is great at what they do, you will want to be great at your craft too.

Invest In The Up And Comers

You don’t need to only be around people that have achieved some form of “success” in their life. It’s about finding the people who have the right qualities. The up and comers. In Naval’s tweetstorm How to Get Rich he said, “Looking back on my career, the people who I identified as brilliant and hardworking two decades ago are all successful now, almost without exception. On a long enough timescale, you will get paid.” Investing in building relationships with these types of people so you can celebrate in their success.

Invest time into the relationship with others who have a well furnished mind, exceptional curiosity, a sense of humor, and an obsession with their craft. These are the people that go on to be the most fulfilled in life. The same ones Jefferson brought together to create the best memories in his life.

Spend time thinking about what the criteria for your friends and mentors should be. This pays off when you find them.

FOOTNOTES

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