Who's Making or Breaking You?

Posted: June 9th, 2021

Written By: David J. Volk | June 5, 2021 

“It’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys.” – Ancient Plevich Wisdom


Put differently, if you lay down with dogs, you are going to get fleas. The opposite is true. If we surround ourselves with quality people, quality will rub off on us.


I assume you have heard this one: ‘you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.' - Jim Rohn. Which probably has you at least a little worried or feeling blessed or both.


My two friends I spend the most time with are also my golf buddies. They are very hard-working entrepreneurs (and great golfers). They inspire me to pursue greater success. We all started out from modest means. So, if we can do it, we believe anyone can and we find reasons to achieve instead of excuses for not succeeding. We encourage each other by sharing good news and the challenges we face while knowing we can handle those challenges. We don’t really talk a lot about knowing we can handle the challenges. We just know we all persist despite the challenges. Same thing for my best friends in law school. They were better students and still had fun and I learned a lot from them. Same thing for my best friend from high school and college. Our parents gave us a strong work ethic through making us work for them from a young age. Same thing with my church mentor. His knowledge and demeanor are impressive.


Quality friends and family make us better. They are role models.. I have a long list of people that have taught and inspired me. You probably have a list of your own. If you don’t, you need to get that list built quickly.  


Influence happens across a broad spectrum. For instance, how much we eat is affected by who we eat with.


“When we eat with others we have a natural tendency to use their behaviour as a guide,” says Suzanne Higgs, who studies the psychobiology of appetite at the University of Birmingham. “Lots of studies have shown that when we eat with people who eat a lot, we eat more. People aren’t often aware they are being influenced in that way. They might say it was the taste or the price or hunger levels rather than the people around them.” How your friends change your habits - for better and worse, William Park 20th May 2019, BBC.com/future.  


Shun negatively influential turkeys and dogs. They drive us down.


Seek positive influencer eagles. They lift us up.


Think of who you are around and spend more time with the eagles. If you have to be around turkeys, guard yourself against their negative ways. For instance, at work, avoid pity parties with grievance mongers. Notice the winners in the office. What are they doing right that the haters are doing wrong?


“Any time we’re trying to achieve something, whether we’re trying to lose weight, exercise more, put in extra hours at the office, peers are a powerful motivating force. We did some research showing that NBA basketball teams are actually more likely to win when they are behind, but just by a little, because that gap causes people to be motivated and try harder. If you’re trying to lose weight for example, rather than just doing it by yourself, pair up with someone else and say “Hey, who can lose 15 pounds faster?” Or if you’re trying to run faster or train harder, rather than training at home, work out at the gym where other people are around. Running on a treadmill next to someone, rather than far away, will actually motivate you to work harder. Social facilitation can increase performance and encourage us to do better. Rather than trying to control or motivate our behavior by ourselves, others are often a better way to do it.” How Other People Influence You and Why That’s Ok, Ilaria Schlitz,

July 3, 2016, Behavioralscientist.org.


There is a caveat. If you regularly around others who are more accomplished, it can make you envious or resentful or restless that you are not doing as well as they are. That is insanity. As you climb whatever ladder you are climbing, you will be around progressively more accomplished people. Be happy for their success and know that they can inspire you. A true friend is happy when we succeed and is there for us to encourage us when times are tough. So, be a true friend to others on your journey. The others are also watching you for inspiration. Just as we should want to be around eagles, we should be an eagle for those around us.