I made my first friend, Jack, when I was 4 years old.  Unlike many friendships at that age which either begin at school or through parents, Jack and I met organically: I was singing “It’s a Grand Old Flag” to myself on my porch at the shore and he walked up and said hi.

A reenactment of that fateful day, years later
A reenactment of that fateful day, years later

From that point on, Jack was my best friend every summer.  We rarely saw each other during the school year, living in opposite suburbs from each other, but every Memorial Day we picked up exactly where we left off.  For the next 11 years, from May through August we’d swim in the ocean, build sandcastles, and play video games together.  There was hardly a day we didn’t see each other or have a sleep over.  We were inseparable.

But Jack and I were different people, or at least, we were people going in two different directions.  Puberty had a separating effect on us.  At age 15 Jack was an extremely good looking, charming guy with a cool, connected lifeguard brother, and I was out-of-shape, shy, and unable to talk about anything non-political or unintellectual.

Parties were often awkward.  Jack was vouched for, but me?  Strangely, those Jersey Shore guys didn’t really love having me around 😉

Looking back, it was obvious to see that cracks were developing in our friendship.

But just as Rome wasn’t destroyed in a day, our relationship hung on, broadly unchanged for the next few years.  It wasn’t until the summer I turned 19 that everything abruptly became different.  He wouldn’t ask me to hang out.  He hardly responded to my texts.  He was cold and distant. Yet it wasn’t until he tried to sneak off to a party without me – a party that I had specifically taken off work to go to with him – that I finally got the message.  Our friendship was over.

Jack and I “broke up” nearly eight years ago. But he’s been on my mind a lot recently.  He was the first person in my life I cared about that I lost.

Not to death.

To choices.

Jack chose to end our friendship.

I don’t think Jack made a good choice,  He lost a close, dedicated friend and (at least based on my network of incredible people) someone who ended up not entirely a social failure.

Yet I also totally understand where Jack was coming.

You see, Jack knew the reality he wanted to create.  And he knew, intuitively, that his environment – particularly the people in it – would either make that reality happen or stop it.

He took inventory of his friends and asked himself a simple question:

Are they holding me back or pushing me forward?

Jack wanted to be cool, and I wasn’t cool.  Jack wanted to be accepted and the bros in town weren’t going to accept me.

So he made a choice.  He cut me out.  And by cutting me out, he was finally able to hang out with those people without worrying about being socially dragged down.

Now, lest you think I’m looking for sympathy, lamenting the trials and tribulations of an erstwhile Fat Pat, I assure you I’m not here to host a pity party.

I actually don’t begrudge Jack what he did.  In fact, I’m a lot like him these days.

I give major fucks about the people I surround myself with.  For I know they will make or break me.

There is only one difference, albeit an important one, between me and my old buddy Jack:

I don’t care how ‘cool’ you are.

I care how much of a shit you give about your life.

How much you want to grow.

How much you want to choose behavior that serves you.

How much you want to stop jerking off your ego instead of being self-aware.

I don’t care if you’re a nerd.  I don’t care if you’re unconfident.  I don’t care if you’re scared.

If you’re all of that but you still want to take responsibility for your life then contact me.  Let’s be friends.

I’m an investor when it comes to friendships.  And a good investor seeks two things:

  1. Appreciating assets
  2. Assets with proven, sustained value

In other words, people who want more out of life and are prepared to work for it regardless of their current position, and people who are already phenomenal, inspirational individuals in business, life, and thought.

I only surround myself with people who fit those descriptions.

And you should too.

Not because I’m a “status seeker.”  Like I said, I don’t care about how cool you are.  And also not because I don’t value loyalty – I think loyalty is extremely important.

I just know that if you’re not loyal to yourself, there’s no way you can actually be loyal to me.  If you don’t value your own development, there’s no way you’re going to value mine.

I have good reason for thinking this way.  Since I’ve started my own business and really made a push to take my life to the next level, for every nine people who have been incredibly supportive, one has been anywhere from doubting to downright hostile.

Some of these people I’ve known forever.  Others have only remained on the fringe of my life. But always, without exception, they have been people playing small-ball with their destiny, living in a space of scarcity, negativity, and entitlement.

Conventional wisdom and “bro code” state that ditching such a person without provocation is disloyal.

But in the real world, that’s bullshit.

These people were never loyal to me.  They may have depended on me.  And I may have liked that dependence because it made me feel important.  But people in that state don’t know how to care about anybody but themselves, including the people who do the most for them.  Indeed, especially the people who do the most for them (you should see how some of these people treat their parents and partners).

So given all that, it begs the question: why do we keep these kind of people around when we know they do nothing for us?

Thank you for asking my dear reader.

I posit that if a person in your life really is a negative influence on you achieving your dream, your refusal to ditch them isn’t about loyalty.

It’s about fear.

No, not fear of losing them as a friend.

Fear of letting go of the past.  Fear of change.  Fear of upsetting someone.

But most importantly:

Fear of becoming the person you want to be.

The cost of this fear is massive.

You only have one life.  And having these people in it is helping you squander it.

Jim Rohn once famously said, “you are the five people you spend the most time with.”

Let that sink in for a second.  If you have only one person in your close circle who is a negative influence, you have become 1/5th a person that does not want to make his life better.

Do you want to be 1/5th of that person?  Hell, do you want to be even 1/20th?

It’s a scary thought.  And I wish I could tell you Jim Rohn was wrong.

Or rather, I wish I could tell you he was wrong differently.

Because science has shown that old Jimmy was actually downplaying the influence of your social network.  Apparently, people who are one, even two degrees of separation from you still significantly impact your life and your decisions.

So, what were we talking about before?

Oh that’s right.

Pay attention to who you allow into your life.

Cut out the false nobility and start acting like an investor when it comes to your relationships.

Not a short-term, high-frequency trader – a social climber whose always looking for the next best thing – an investor, someone who’s looking for potential and quality over the long-term and is willing to put his time and money behind it.

The Warren Buffet of friendships, so to speak.

People will call you an asshole.  People will call you an arrogant prick.

Hell, some of you are probably calling me that right now.

But do I care?  No, because the quality of my friendships has increased exponentially in the last few months.  And from that, so has the quality of my business and my life.

So it will be with you too if you decide to be brave enough to surround yourself with the right people.

My little drooglings, your environment can either work for you or against you.

Why make it tough on yourself?

The reality you want is only a few choices away.  

Choose wisely.



PS Leave a comment! I love to hear from you all.