Italian philosopher Nicocolo Machiavelli said, “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.” You have probably heard the saying, You become the average of your closest friends. Because of the impact your friends have on your success, it is important to analyze whom you are surrounding yourself with. Do your friends uplift you up or drag you down? Are they positive or negative? Are they constructive or destructive? Do they encourage or discourage your growth and success?

Andy Andrews in the Young Travelers Guide taught, “We are always influenced by those with whom we associate. If a man keeps company with those who curse and complain, he will soon find curses and complaints flowing like a river from his own mouth. If he spends his days with the lazy- those seeking handouts - he will soon find his finances in disarray. Many of our sorrows can be traced to relationships with the wrong people.

Anytime you tolerate the average in your friends, you become more comfortable with the average in your own life. If laziness isn’t an irritation to you, it is a sign that you have accepted it as a way of life.”

You may think that your friends don’t have a major influence on you and that you still make your own reality, but you have to recognize that they are part of that reality. As hard as it may seem, sometimes you need a friend-echtomy. You need to start to surround yourself with the type of people you want to become, and you will begin this transformation.

To illustrate this point further, let me tell you about an interesting study. Friends, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad wrote about a study conducted with a group of monkeys.

Four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the center. Suspended from the top of that pole was a bunch of bananas. One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as he reached out to grab a banana, he was doused with a bucket of cold water. Squealing, he scampered down the pole and abandoned his attempt to feed himself. Each monkey made a similar attempt, and each one was drenched with cold water. After making several attempts, they finally gave up.

Then the researchers removed one of the monkeys from the room and replaced him with a new monkey. As the newcomer began to climb the pole, the other three grabbed him and pulled him down to the ground. After trying to climb the pole several times and being dragged down by the others, he finally gave up and never attempted to climb again.

The researchers replaced the original monkeys one by one, and each time a new monkey was brought in he would be dragged down by the other before he could reach the bananas. In time, the room was filled with monkey who had never received a cold shower. however, None of them would climb the pole, but not one of them knew why.

Unfortunately, this same thing happens in our lives. We surround ourselves with people who for whatever reason pull us down when we try to climb to new heights. Don’t let others stifle your success. Surround yourself with people who will help you grow and excel.

Take out a sheet of paper and make a list of the people you associate with regularly. Next to their name put an arrow going up if they are people who encourage and lift you – people who are positive, optimistic, and solution-oriented. If they are negative people who whine and complain then put an arrow going down. The people with the up arrow are the group that will fuel your success. Those that have a down arrow are stifling your progress.

Choose whom you surround yourself with wisely. Probably more than any other influence, your friends will impact the results you desire. We really do become the average of our closest friends.

Author's Bio: 

Ty Bennett is a a Speaker, Author, and Entrepreneur. He is the founder of Leadership Inc, a company designed to empower individuals and organizations. For a fee copy of Ty’s Ebook, visit