Your Attitude Is Only As Good As the Company You Keep

November 18th, 2013 by LaRae Quy

A group of my friends chose a date for a retreat weekend. All of us kept that date sacrosanct, except one. She cancelled at the last minute, saying she was under too much stress to leave home.

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My reaction extended beyond disappointment. We had planned this retreat for months and I, for one, had worked hard to reschedule projects and relocate my husband so we could have a girls’ weekend to ourselves at my house. Others had also re-arranged plans so they could attend.

I felt my heart harden, and I knew I needed time away from her to gain perspective. 

But we are disappointed and frustrated with friends, family, and team members all the time. Running away from the problem or holding in a negative attitude is not a productive answer. 

Instead, if we are to nurture healthy relationships, we need to separate practices that are self-serving or the product of habit from those that lead to our growth and success. One approach is being hard-hearted; the other is using mental toughness.

Let’s look at 4 differences between the two:

1) Be Picky

Let’s face it: the less you associate with some people, the faster your life will improve.

You become like those with whom you associate—for the good and the bad. Plato once said, “People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.”

Pick your friends with care—they create the environment in which you will either thrive or wilt. Give everyone the opportunity to be a friend, but share your dreams and goals only with those who value them as much as you do.

  • Hard-hearted is choosing friends because of who they are;
  • Mental toughness is choosing friends because of who you want to become.

2) Expect Change

As you grow, your attitude and beliefs will change. Some of your friends will want to grow with you, and those will be the ones who will stretch your vision and encourage you to continue. Others will not, and they may choke your dream.

You have different friends for different parts of your life. If you have moved into a phase of life where you’re determined to set your own course, find people who can help you visualize what that future can look like.

  • Hard-hearted is leaving behind friends who have been loyal and supportive because you want to spend your time with movers and shakers;
  • Mental toughness is sticking with friends who have always been a positive influence in your life.

3) Establish Benchmarks

Create standards for choosing friends – Ask yourself whether spending time with this person will lift you up or drag you down? Will spending time with this person help you to become your best self? Will you be happier after spending time with this person? Will this person help you achieve your most important goals? If not, find friends who will.

  • Hard-hearted is basing friendships on who can open doors for you to accomplish your goals;
  • Mental toughness is basing friendships on who help you learn how to open doors for yourself.

4) Establish Trust

List five people who can help you achieve your dreams and goals. These should be people whom you trust to listen to you attentively. Tell them about your dreams and goals. Sharing details of our life creates trust, and if you don’t feel you can trust a person with the most vulnerable part of yourself—your dream—find someone else for a friend.

  • Hard-hearted is cutting a friend loose because you don’t want to make the time to listen or help;
  • Mental toughness is cutting the strings when their baggage weighs you down.

Mental toughness is choosing excellence in all that you do. This includes the company you keep. Never make someone a priority when you are only an option to them.

In Prosperity Our Friends Know Us. In Adversity We Know Our friends—John Churton Collins.

What criteria do you have for choosing the company you keep?

© 2015 LaRaeQuy. All rights reserved.

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Author of “Mental Toughness for Women Leaders: 52 Tips To Recognize and Utilize Your Greatest Strengths” and “Secrets of a Strong Mind.”

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15 Responses to “Your Attitude Is Only As Good As the Company You Keep”

  1. Micah says:

    Love that line ‘choose friends because of who you want to become.’ It brought to mind a quote I came across earlier this year from Jim Rohn –

    “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

    Being selective about our relationships is definitely a valuable practice.

  2. Wisdom. Choosing our associates is critical to our own success. Inevitably, we will be let down by friends & relatives. How we respond to these disappointments is critical to our own happiness. The depth of our friendship determines the leeway we grant others when they disappoint us.

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Point well taken, Skip. I’ve been sorely disappointed by people (haven’t we all) and I’ve come to realize I am in control of how I react to these disappointments. While I hope I’ll always err on the side of giving people a chance to be my friend, I’m also a little wiser, and perhaps less needy…I can chose people who will help me become the best person I can be.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Lolly Daskal says:

    This made me think ..

    “Give everyone the opportunity to be a friend, but share your dreams and goals only with those who value them as much as you do”

    Profound and enlightening wisdom. Thanks so much for sharing…


    • LaRae Quy says:

      It’s so important to not surround ourselves with wariness when it comes to friendships, and yet I know I’m a little more jaded than I used to be because of friendships that were based on convenience rather than compatibility. Now, I strive to reach out only to those whom I feel share my values and goals, and I truly think I have more friends at this point in my life than ever before!

  4. Another great post LaRae! My favorite part of your post? “Give everyone the opportunity to be a friend, but share your dreams and goals only with those who value them as much as you do”. Very smart advice. And that is mental toughness that you teach so well my friend. Thanks for always posting such awesome content!

  5. Karin hurt says:

    Great relationships are reciprocal… Both parties benefit….not aways at the same time… In fact the best relationships thrive in times of true need. But at some point there must be balance. I’ve found the relationships that have fizzled out were not well balanced.

  6. Terri Klass says:

    What a relatable post, LaRae and one that reminds me of people I have met along the way who can either be toxic or not in my court. I stay clear of the real toxic ones.

    I think what happens sometimes is that when we grow in different directions from our friends or colleagues, it becomes more difficult to find things in common. I used to have a colleague who chose an internal training position while I chose to be a consultant. We really have lost one another as she was unable to support my choice. It became unmanageable for me and I finally decided to cut my losses. Although I miss her and her ideas, I needed to protect myself.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Yes! It’s important to sort out those toxic relationships. I, too, have had friendships that were once rich and productive but when I moved on in life, I didn’t feel they moved on with me. All we had in common were memories, and while those are good, they rarely are enough to keep us moving forward.

  7. Bill Benoist says:

    I am very selective with my closest friends for exactly the reasons you write, and these are the ones I trust unequivocal.

    The challenge I’ve had over the years was with relatives. Relatives who would drag me down with their negativity and outlook on life. They were truly energy vampires, but because they were much older (late 70s) and not in the best of health, I felt compelled to make these weekly visits. (I am sure there was some underlying belief I never got a handle on.)

    They’ve since passed on, but your post is a reminder that relatives can sometimes be a negative influence too if we are not careful/

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Oh Bill, what an excellent point! Relatives are in their own category 🙁

      “Choose your friends with care because you’re stuck with your relatives.”

      I’ve lived with that motto my entire life…I’ve come to the conclusion that most relatives are simply adversities we learn from so we can land on our feet when confronted with similar situations in life and work 🙂

      That said, there will always be difficult people in our life and sometimes they are the very obstacle we will need to overcome.

  8. Alli Polin says:

    When I went back to work many years ago after staying home full time I ran into something that shocked me – most of my stay-at-home Mom friendships did not survive the transition. I was hurt and my heart did harden… for a time. I was able to let go of the anger when I realized that there was a lot more to it than just my professional choices. Mental toughness allowed me to absolutely shift my perspective.

    Excellent points, LaRae!

    • LaRae Quy says:

      I’ve had similar situations happen to me, Alli.

      Friendships that do not survive transitions are nothing more than convenient acquaintances. My mistake was thinking they were more…convenient acquaintances can have value, but they are short-term and without deep roots.

      I refuse to think of people as “throw-aways” but I have come to realize that it’s a mistake to hold on to toxic relationships or those that do not build me up and help me move forward.

      As you say, it takes mental toughness…..

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