This is advice you probably heard from your parents or a TV show at some point in your life.
However, what if I told you your response to this statement meant the difference between being extremely successful and being a third of what you really want to be in life. Would you take the advice of “choose wisely” a little more seriously?
We live in a dis-eased society that tends to tell us to love everyone, be more social and have a strong sense of community. Don’t get me wrong — I am all for a strong sense of community and social life. But, it’s who we choose to socialize with that matters the most throughout our life.
If we spend our time with top performers, we will become top performers.
If we spend time with ‘average’ performers, we will continue to be average versions of ourselves.
Just take a moment and think about this. Do you really want to become and stay an average version of yourself? Or would you like to become the person you were always meant to be? It would be a complete disservice to your future self to become old and know you could have done more with the time you had, the gifts you possessed, and the assets you had around you.
Why is this?
Because life left on the table is not a life fully lived.
You have probably heard this before but we really become the sum of the five individuals closest to us. And just as we choose spouses, schools, jobs, and cars selectively, we need to do the same with our friendships and associations as well.
If you want to truly become successful, one of the few things that you can control along that path is the people around you helping you navigate that journey.
Many people allow those they inherited around them as a child to become the people who are in their lives at old age regardless of whether they really added value throughout the majority of their life or not. They were just ‘around’ so it became the norm. It was familiar — but not necessarily mutually beneficial.
When I hit 30 last year, this idea really hit home for me. When I looked back at my 20’s I realized I had traveled the world and met some incredible people. But I also had people in my life in my 20’s who never pushed me to become a better person, who was never fully intentional about our friendship and who would typically spend much of our time together focusing on the negative.
When I hit 30 I decided that it was time to finally give my energy to the energy masters in my life rather than the energy drainers.
It was time to amplify life for magnificent results rather than to settle for the ordinary.
It was time to be surrounded by rare air folks who would lift me up/push me forward rather than complain about life, jobs, relationships, and debt.
Robin Sharma refers to the art of spending more time with game-changers and less time with the energy drainers as “Selective Association”.
At this point, I am guessing you are doing an evaluation of the people you have in your life and those folks who may require some selective association in your weeks, months and years.
If you are unsure of who makes the cut, ask yourself these three questions as a starting point:
- Do my current friends add value to my life?
2. Do my family members encourage me, lift me up and make me a better person?
3. Do I feel exhausted or empowered when I talk with person A?
Asking these three questions will help you discover who may require some selective association in your life.
f you find you are in need of more risers and pushers in your life, here are four ways you can simultaneously back peddle out of existing negative Nancy relationships and begin to invest in high impact relationships in your life.
Decide Who You Want To Become
To be is to do.
Before you can start axing relationships and applying selective association in your life, you need to decide who you want to become. If you want to be the same person in 10 years as you are right now, don’t change a thing. However, if you want to become the best version of yourself you need to understand what that means. That means your whole life will change as of right now — not just the people who are around you. Once you become clear on who you want to become, then it is time to burn some boats.
You are what you tolerate.
In my 20’s I really struggled with two things that held me back from reaching success:
- A strong case of “Nice guy” syndrome
- Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries
Having spent years working on these two areas of my life in becoming a top performer, I can tell you this is not easy work. We tend to over tolerate mediocre and under-appreciate high-value things in many areas of our lives. Our associations are no different. We tend to take those who can lift us and elevate us for granted and over commit to the mediocre because they seem just “there” more often. Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in all areas of life is a great step to becoming a top performer.
Shift The Way We Look At Time
Time is the greatest currency to give another human heart.
Imagine if we approached time like we approach our finances. Better yet, imagine if we treated time like we treat our deepest relationships and the things we truly love in life. Humanity wastes time every single day. We sit in traffic for hours, we choose to wait in long lines at the mall and we spend about 7 +hours a day staring at screens and scrolling social media.
However, to become successful, we must treat time as the single greatest currency that the human heart can give another. We must guard time like we protect our kids, our homes and our hearts. Life is not an audition, it is the real deal — happening daily. Once we shift the way we look at time, this can allow us to think more clearly about selective association and about guarding the time in our days to spend it with those who add the most value to our lives.
Simply put: Redefine our time, redefine our time.
Love From Afar And Give Up The Love Affair
What if we rewrite the stars?
— The Greatest Showman
I once had a mentor who told me this: “Ryan, sometimes people are good from afar but they are far from good.” This simply meant that some people are great at arm’s length, but not great when they are up close in our lives.
To become successful, it is imperative that we give up the love affair with those around us who like it when we live average.
When this is a family member we continue to revert back to this family member because they are just that — family.
When it’s a friend we rationalize the years we’ve invested in that relationship over what that investment will continue to look like for us ten years from now.
The great news is that we can give up the love affair that doesn’t make us a better human being — even if this involves detaching from labels such as family and friends. We all have an adventurous life to live and it’s ok to put distance from what is to move closer toward what is to come for our future selves.
Now that you have read this post, it is important not to forget to tell those family and friends who do not fit within the realm of selective association that you love them, cherish them and appreciate them deeply. Personal leadership and mastery are not a solo event and it takes a village….
Just make sure it is the right one. 🙂
Previously Published on Medium