Ever walked away from a conversation completely refreshed and ready to take on the world?
Imagine feeling that sense of motivation regularly.
I recently caught up with an old friend over dinner. We updated each other about our career paths, love life, personal development and the like.
We’ve been friends since high school and, on average, I’ve spoken to her once or twice a year since then. But it’s one of those friendships where time doesn’t seem to pass and you pick back up where you left off.
She enjoys reading Foreign Affairs and The Economist during downtime and actively pursues knowledge, staying on top of any and seemingly all current global events.
As of this piece, my friend is a teacher for AmeriCorps and on the path to attend graduate school for a Master of Arts in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration. Her long term aspiration is to become a researcher for the development-based, non-profit think tank, Center for Global Development.
I don’t know what any of that that means either.
I do know that there’s no doubt my friend will be successful in her aspirations.
After dinner, I realized that it’s not just that one friend. I’ve surrounded myself with many highly self-motivated individuals who will inevitably achieve success.
I’m excited for these friends. And I’m also excited for myself.
Because I know with friends like that, I’m more likely to be successful.
Forget Who You Are. Who Do You Want to Be?
There’s a phrase that says, “you do you.” Be yourself. Don’t change.
Despite good intentions, that’s horrible advice.
What if who you are isn’t who you want to be?
Jim Rohn states, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
However, your circle of friends will likely change. You’ll lose friends and you’ll meet new people who may end up being better influences.
I propose a slight change.
You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Your friends will change. And if you want to become better, you will change.
Your Friends Influence More Than What You Do
When you’re with a group of friends and they all decide to go see movie, you’re more than likely going to agree to watching a movie. In most cases, the group is going to be in unison. Not everyone may agree, but everyone generally goes along with it.
Now imagine that each person in that same group of friends has obtained a dream job doing what they love.
If you haven’t gotten the same opportunities, you might compare yourself to them.
But if they’re your close friends, they’re likely going to push you and motivate you to do your best to obtain your own dream job.
Your friends don’t just influence your actions.
Your closest friends influence your mindset.
They influence your level of motivation.
This is why the most successful people are involved in some form of a mastermind and why various mastermind groups exist.
A friend of mine attends New York University for physical therapy school. He’s one of the top in his class and was recommended by a professor for a competitive teaching position over the summer. I’ve known him since college and his drive to become the best physical therapist has been unparalleled. Ask him about physical therapy and he can go on forever.
Another friend recently returned from Taiwan where he worked at a startup as a marketing director. Before that, he completed a year with the Japan Exchange and Teaching program, teaching English in Japan.
I found myself comparing my career path to theirs.
Why aren’t I in another state or country? Shouldn’t I be pushing myself too? I should be growing too.
I stopped comparing and instead I thought, “These guys are doing really well. I have to make sure I’m learning and growing too.”
It’s peer pressure in its best form.
When I see close friends moving forward in their lives, it’s a reminder for me to remain focused and push forward.
It’s Not Business, It’s Personal
This could sound like you’re using people to your advantage. Like an awesome business transaction, it sounds like you’re getting the best deal in the exchange.
It is an exchange. But it’s not business. It’s personal. It’s a friendship. A healthy friendship is a two way street.
Your friends will motivate you, but you should be motivating them too.
This also isn’t all about your career. Because you’re close friends, you’ll likely help each other through difficult personal situations too. As mentioned earlier, your friends will influence your mindset–they’ll provide you with another perspective to deal with tough situations.
These people you surround yourself with affect both your professional and personal success.
They’ll help you improve as a person, as a boyfriend, a student, a daughter, a teacher and more–things that won’t always pertain to your profession.
Relationships Come and Go
There have been some relationships which I held on to for too long. I had outgrown most of these friendships but, for sake of “we’ve known each other for so long,” I tried to keep them alive. In the end, they didn’t work out.
It’s troubling to realize that people will walk into and out of your life–sometimes in an instant.
I’ve lost more than a handful of friends over the last few years, but I’ve made friends who push me to be the best I can be.
Although my previous friends were great people, many didn’t push me to be better. They didn’t hold the same values in growth and motivation as I did.
As I meet new people, I’d occasionally have moments when I would think to myself, “This person is friendly, intelligent and highly motivated. I have to keep this person close.”
And I do.
Here’s the Difficult Part
The thing about friends is that you can pick and choose who you call your friend. No one will force you to be friends.
When you meet someone who you believe will push you to become the person you want to be, it’s up to you to maintain that friendship.
Who you surround yourself with is in your control.
That’s the difficult part. It isn’t always easy to let people out of your life.
Likewise, it isn’t always easy to find the right people who have a similar drive and ambition as you.
I don’t recommend you drop your friends and find new ones immediately. That’s the worst thing you can do.
Your friends may also be seeking motivation. You can start by having a conversation your friends and learning what they want to achieve. What motivates them? What do they value?
Learn how you can motivate your friends and tell them how they can motivate you.
With that said, for any of this to work, you need to be open to change.
You know that one friend that, no matter what, won’t take your (or anyones) advice? Don’t be that person.
No matter who you’re surrounded by, you can’t grow if you don’t accept you need to change. This means accepting that you’re sometimes wrong.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the company you keep.
Take look at the company you keep. Is that the company you’d like to be in 10 years down the road?
Is the company you keep going to push you to become the person you wish to be?