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The Least Successful Guy In the Room

A few weeks ago I was out enjoying a reunion with a group of my closest childhood friends. We went to grade school together and have kept in touch since. Careers and family have taken some my friends to other parts of the country. Career success and growing families have also meant that we are busier than ever before. But, in the past few years, we have made it a point to connect at least a couple times a year.

As I looked around the table, it occurred to me that I am probably the least successful person in the group. One of my friends is an environmental consultant with a leading nation firm. Another helps to design and maintain electric energy grids. Across the table is another friend who designs bio-diesel plants. Seated next to him is another friend who runs his own successful social media and consulting business. Another is a high school guidance counselor who spends every day positively impacting the lives of our next generation.

When I say I am the least successful person at the table that is not to say that I think I am unsuccessful. In fact, I am proud of my own accomplishments. This group of friends is one of the things of which I am proud.

There is a theory that the people with whom we surround ourselves heavily influence each of us. If that is the case, then I am extremely proud of the friends I have been surrounded by for the majority of my life. I am inspired by their incredible success. I love spending time with them and wish I could see them more often.

My childhood friends serve as a great reminder to me of how important it is to be surrounded by the right people. It is not an easy goal because so much of our days are spent in environments over which we have only limited control. While we choose our place of employment, we don’t choose all of the people with whom we spend our days. We do, however, have control over how much time we invest in each of the people we encounter during the day. And, it behooves us to limit the time we spend with negative influences while increasing the time we spend with positive influences. Similarly, we should take care to make sure we are being a positive influence to those around us, not a negative influence.

I have not always been careful about this piece of advice. There have been times I have given in to surrounding myself with people who have a negative worldview or engage in bad behavior like gossip and office politics. In the moment it can be thrilling to be with the “in” crowd, but I also noticed that the negative energy seemed to creep into my own life.

In contrast, when I have spent most of my time with people who exude positivity and treat other well, I find myself happier and inspired to be a better person. There is not greater reminder of the power of that influence than the evenings I spend with my best childhood friends.

If who surrounds you makes a difference in who you become, be careful to choose wisely. There are great rewards to surrounding yourself with successful people who care about you and challenge you to be great. In other words, sometimes being the least successful person in the room is a really great gift!


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