To be successful, do I need to upgrade my friends?
Should I ditch my struggling friends and hang out with the super happy and ultra-successful so their success rubs off on me?
I have certainly heard this strategy of hanging out with the right people to enhance your own success, especially when you're starting a business. If you are spending time with people who are struggling to make ends meet and whose conversation revolves around moaning and criticising, it can be exhausting. You can get swept up in this way of thinking and adopt it as your own.
Not only does this allow negative thinking to dominate your world, but it might also lead you to become concerned about how this group might be judging you, then leading you to be more defensive. It’s easy to see how actions born out of this way of thinking would be detrimental to your success.
If you decide to hang out with a wealthy, successful crowd, surrounded by the best money can buy, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that there is no direct correlation between money and happiness. You may well find this group’s conversation also revolves around moaning and criticising!
But let's assume, for the purpose of this exploration, that they are wealthy, successful, happy, and upbeat. You could be swept up by their positive way of thinking. This may help you to enjoy life more but, without comparable monetary resources, it could equally lead you to spend inappropriately or to the downward spiral of comparisons about how you don’t fit into this group, you aren't good enough, and you are lacking. You might find yourself putting on a show for the group and feeling like a fraud.
Being with the group who are struggling might lead you to count your blessings or inspire you to take positive action in your own life. When you join a group of people, your presence changes the dynamic - you have influence.
Hanging out with the right people isn't the straight forward strategy it might seem, but there is simplicity to be found. Connecting with another person or group of people is a wonderful thing. When we give another person our full attention, we are naturally no longer listening to the chatter in our heads, and we are free to create our interaction (and our lives) moment by moment.
Whether our head chatter is in line with the group we’re with or in opposition to it, whether it’s positive or negative. In the voice of gossip, judgement, helpful advice or masquerading as deep analysis, it is not important.
Sure, it can be distracting, and the accompanying feelings can be uncomfortable, but to paraphrase Michael Neill, the song can come on the radio without us needing to sing along.
So hang out with whoever you feel attracted to hang out with - not to use them to enhance your success, for their contacts or endorsement, but because you want to connect with them. Give them your full attention, be curious, listen, share, play, and see what you create!