Your career depends on the company you keep – Podcast
“CHAPTER XXII — CONCERNING THE SECRETARIES OF PRINCES
The choice of servants is of no little importance to a prince, and they are good or not according to the discrimination of the prince. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them.” — Niccolo Machiavelli
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Even as far back as the Renaissance — and probably before — people have known that good people attract other good people while evil, avaricious, greedy, mean people attract those with the same failures and vices. You can be, and will be, judged by the company you keep, but few people seem to understand or remember this very useful part of human nature. Worse still, even when people understand that the company they keep is damaging their career and life, they remain in their company simply because leaving it — quitting a job, finding another, moving schools or homes — is simply too much trouble. This column is a reminder that the damage you do to your career by associating with the wrong people is far worse than the inconvenience you will face in trying to change it.
When my wife and I hold our annual parties, one comment we hear again and again, is about the friendliness of the people we attract to us. No matter how old or young, what they do for a living, how rich or poor they are, our friends all have a certain quality that makes it fun to be around them and share their lives and engage in conversation about the world and our place in it. Over our 26+ years together, my wife and I have often commented on how lucky we are to have found such a wide variety of amazing friends. Then again, perhaps it isn’t just an accident that this happens.
We, like I would advise you, are very careful to bring a particular type of person into our lives and into the life of our son. Like us, they should be marginally optimistic. They should love a good conversation, regardless of what the topic might be or where it might go. They should be as comfortable grabbing a quick bite at Henry’s Tacos as they are attending a concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. They should have hobbies and interests that they like sharing with others like our friends who belong to the local geology club, are docents at the LA Zoo, share the archery field with us or those who get a kick out of camping at the beach.
Why do we look for people like this? Because they are the people we are ourselves — or least, strive to be. We look at our friends and hope that others see us in the same light. Our friends are a reflection of ourselves and over the years this has proven to be a very good thing. We have developed many deep and long standing relationships based on our underlying — even unspoken — methods.
Now, take a look at your friends, your co-workers, your business partners. These people are a reflection of you, your dreams, your values. Do you see in them what you would most like to see in yourself? If not, why not? If you are surrounded by those who skirt the law, take advantage of others only to better themselves, or abuse those around them, why are you there? Surely you must know that when seen from outside, these people reflect directly on you. You become one of them, whether you like it or not.
Surround yourself with those people you respect and you will find the respect of others. Find those people that are successful without being evil and you will find the same path for yourself. Seek out those people who reflect the “better angels of your nature” and you will find long term abiding friendships that accurately reflect who you are and what you want out of life.