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Are You Average or Exceptional? Maybe Your Personal Loyalties Are Holding You Back.

Posted by on July 28, 2008

Its long been told that we are typically an average of our five closest friends, that our ties with our nearest and dearest are effectively a reflection of who we are and how we progress through life.

With this however, comes an interesting point; With this knowledge in our grasp do we evaluate further? Do we single out the weakest links in our lives to make a stride toward self-improvement? Or is the importance of loyalty in friendship more important than our own evolution?

When analyzing your own situation I think you can typically move outside of the “fave five” parameters and take a mental snapshot of your inner circle, be it three, five, or even seven people. I think seven should be a maximum otherwise you turn a serious evaluation into a possible Facebook survey. Just so everyone is clear, please include your spouse, significant other, and any family member that you would confide in. I think that when we confide in someone its because we trust that person enough to share our experiences with them, but also because we’d appreciate a little feedback from someone outside our own cranium. This is where our inner circle plays such a huge role in who we are.

Typically our brain trust functions as extensions of different aspects of our personalities, we make connections based on our similarities and mutual affability. But their influence on our lives extend much further than our shared love for Rachel McAdams and Back To The Future, as there are typically two types of friends.

The first will support you in any decision you make, be it going back to school to change careers, doing the worm at a wedding, or cheating your significant other. The second type will support most decisions when push comes to shove, but will step in to intervene when you’re on your way to self-destruction.

We’ll all continue to make good and bad decisions throughout the course of our lives, so its good to have someone in your corner that’ll help you minimize the damage but will also be there to help you clean up the mess. I see friend #1 as more of an apathetic good time soul who is just along to watch the show and will at all times avoid rocking the boat until the situation directly affects them.

Though #1 could still be a great friend, in my opinion its #2 who you want in your corner at all times. These are people that have taken a vested interest in your life, they value you as a friend and don’t want to see you on the receiving end of a poor decision. They’ll let you know why they think you’re making a huge mistake, but still understand if you go through with it anyways (depending on the severity of the action of course). These are the friends that will keep you in check when your better judgment goes awry; or at least give you a chance to think twice.

Personal averages come in all shapes and sizes and its up to you to realize how yours is being calculated. This is more of a post-secondary calculation than a grade school report card because as we all know, not everyone in our inner circle is given equal weighting. Some of our closest friends are given an influence grading similar to a one-page assignment whereas other friends are given final exam weighting along with prime real estate in our lives.

Its important to realize which of your friends and family are having the most effect on your life. Surrounding yourself with those that create a positive force and move you forward should not be taken lightly. These people will bring you up to the level you should be performing at while others might give you rational reason to stay where you are.

Its important to believe in yourself and the things you wish to accomplish in life but its crucial to understand that we are shaped by those that we allow into our lives and who we spend our time with. There is many the friendship that survive and continue based on longevity of acquaintance opposed to the quality of the friendship. In the long run I see these friendships as anchors in personal development and the time we devote to them are usually filled with negativity and maintenance. Its one thing to make a conscious effort to save a valuable friendship as two people have grown in opposite directions, but its another to use the defibrillator several times on a relationship that’s in desperate need of a toe tag.

To take a step further, I do commend anyone that goes the extra mile to pull a troubled friend or a dying friendship out of the fire, because loyalty IS important, but you reach a point where you run the risk of going up in flames yourself.

This holds true with co-workers as well. If the majority of your time is spent around the water cooler listening to Eli and Stuart debate the best albums of the 80s and 90s, sure you’ll score higher in Rock ‘n Roll Jeopardy, but its the guy who spends his time with those co-workers smarter and more senior than him that will score higher when the next promotion is on the table.

So though some people may grade their averages with a heavy and bias curve, if you take an honest look its easy to see who is setting you up for the honour roll and who’s hoping they’ll see you in detention; and sometimes just being conscious of this might help us move in a more positive and productive direction.

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