Choose Your Circle…With Care

Choose Friends CarefullyI have been thinking recently, after a time away from The Upside, of how vital and terribly important it is to choose carefully those with whom you are surrounded.

They are affecting you.  Fact.

It is true that there are certain environments where our companions are, in effect, chosen for us.  In other words, out of our control.  Family. Workplace.  Subway and carpool regulars.  Church and synagogue gatherings.

But this does not define the totality of our lives.  In so much of what we call our discretionary time–and, by extension, discretionary surroundings–we are free to choose those we hang with.  Indeed, we are responsible for these environments.

When I spend too much time with pessimists, who mistakenly view themselves as realists, I become infected.  Sorry, but I am not a Titan and tend to get pulled under by the undertow of fear, defeatism, and basic laziness that tends to undergird most “it-can’t-be-done,-so-why-try?” thinking.

There is a better way.

Simply this:  In those situations which you do control, choose wisely.  Friends who regularly tell you “it can’t be done so why bother?” are not friends.  They have capitulated.  They’ve taken the easy way, the path of least resistance.  And they have plenty of like-minded people to validate their view of life.

Don’t you dare.

Life is worth living.  As our Jewish friends remind us, “Any day above ground is a good day.”  So be thankful.

In practice:

  • Read things that tell you that you, indeed, can.  Don’t spend your precious time giving thought, angst, and emotion to those who decry your efforts at something better.
  • Choose your orbit with care.  Life is far too short to wreck it with toxic affiliations that keep you from, rather than push towards, the fulfillment of your goals and purpose.
  • Live in expectation of good, success, productivity, and the betterment of the world in which you now live.  Much, if not most, pessimism is simply an excuse not to try–an acceptance of the status quo.

You can do this.  Surround your self with people and stimuli that reinforce it.

You won’t regret it.  And you can take that to the bank.

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The Hard Work Factor in Making It

hard-workIf you stop by The Upside often, you’ll know that over the past number of years, I’ve mentored  young leaders..  During one particular period, a handful of guys in their twenties met with me and we discussed leadership, family, career and steps to success.  They were inspiring and invigorating meetings.

A couple of these men work between ninety and one hundred hours a week.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

90-100 hours every week, holding down multiple jobs.

You simply cannot expect to advance in your career, increase your income and become exceptional in your vocations and avocations without putting time into them.  A lot of time.

There are no shortcuts.  Those who are “getting rich quick” with cheap moneymaking schemes will eventually lose.  Being clever is not necessarily the mark of being a professional.  Nor is it a benchmark of character.

These guys earn my respect.  They are putting out to get ahead for their families—multiple jobs, college and vocational schooling.  And they carve out a couple of hours each week to meet and be challenged.

I’ve long admired the cultural, economic and vocational achievements of the Jewish people.  Jews make up one fifth of one percent of the world’s population and yet have won about twenty-two percent of all Nobel Prizes awarded since 1901.

This is due in part to a sober understanding that to get ahead and make an impact in the world takes an enormous amount of focus and hard work over many years.  The Jewish people have understood this as well as any people group in history.

God initially set the bar for humanity when He said, “Six days you shall labor and do your work.  The seventh is a Sabbath (rest) to the Lord your God.”  The Hebrew day was a twelve hour day.  Over a six-day period, that comprises seventy-two hours (no, I didn’t say forty).

There are no shortcuts.

I left our meeting challenged by the lifestyle of my colleagues.  How much would my skills as a writer and a musician improve—exponentially—if I worked ninety plus hours each week (including my forty-hour day job)?

How much indeed?

Time to get at it.

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