I am pretty sure we have all heard the expression
Show me your friends and I will show you your future.
It is a pretty powerful statement. To think that the people we surround ourselves with directly determines our future, whether that contains failure or success, makes you think twice about who you consider your friends. While I am a firm believer that we alone are responsible for our actions and our choices, there is definitely something to be said about the influences that surround us. You see that's what people are, influences. They aren't just voices, they are actually voices of influence. Whether we agree with them or not their influence is real. Who we spend time with matters.
I want to highlight a few things to consider when choosing who you surround yourself with.
First of all, surround yourself with people who challenge you.
Find people who are further along in the journey of life and experience than you are, and get close to them. You will learn from their mistakes and their successes. Too many times we choose to surround ourselves with people who are in the same place in life as we are, or even people who are a little behind us. If we are honest with ourselves, I think we would admit some times we do that because it is easier. People in the same rut as we are aren't going to challenge us or push us. People who are a little behind us in life and experience will make us feel good about how far we are, rather than show us how far we have left to go. Let's find some humility and allow people to challenge us, because that will actually be making us better and stronger.
Secondly, surround yourself with people who encourage you.
There are lots of people who will tell you why something won't work. Now, you don't need a bunch of "yes man" type of people who will agree with everything you say, but you do need people who will look for open doors with us rather than pointing out all of the closed ones. You need people who will admit they don't have the answer either, but are going to stick it out and help you find the solution. There will be times you need someone to keep you grounded and slap some sense into you, but people who are encouraging will be the voices you actually want to listen to when that time comes.
Finally, surround yourself with people know the worst about you, but still recognizes the best.
Sometimes it is hard to imagine that there could be such a person. A person you can trust with the darkest moments. Those moments are hard to share. You can handle that information, but to let someone else in on them is really difficult. It is difficult because you think those things will alter the way people see you. But the individual who sees you in the darkest moments and still sees the greatness in you, even when you don't see it in yourself, that is the voice of influence you want to hold onto. That is the influence that will sustain you and take your further than you could ever hope to go alone.
I encourage you to find those people. There probably won't be many of them, but it is quality over quantity. When you find those few people, hold onto them. Hold onto them even when you feel they are challenging you too much. Hold onto them when you need that encouragement. And hold onto them in your dark moments. They will be the voices speaking life to the greatness inside of you until you can see it again.