Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Surround Yourself With Good People

I often get asked how I was able to get so lucky to build such a great network of people that support me in my personal and professional life.  Usually this question is asked with a heavy dose of skepticism, as if I possess some magical skill that the person asking does not have.  I quickly assure the questioner that nothing could be further from the truth. 

The only mystery or secret to developing the rich network of connections, relationships and outright friendships that I have is simple.....

I choose to surround myself with good people.

That's it.  Nothing more.

I suppose it goes back to the advice I heard over and over as a kid: careful who you associate with.  For me that was always a slippery slope because I had to balance that advice while yet competing against the perceived "title" someone might carry.  You see in school I tried to be friends with people regardless of who they might be: the freaks, the jocks, the headbangers, the punk rockers, the geeks, the woo woo clan, males, females, the what evers.  You name it I was friends with them not because I had to but because I wanted to. 

I was always able to befriend those people regardless of class, label or distinction because of who they were on the inside not because of their class distinction or appearance on the outside. 

How you might ask?  Well that's a also a great question.

I believe we are all hard wired to prejudge people and that is our Achillies Heel in life. If you want to grow a rich network of connections and experience life from a perspective other than you own, you need to overcome this potentially debilitating shortcoming.  If you are willing to accept someone for how they look, who they may associate with, what kind of job they hold and what they are about and you are sincere in your efforts then baby you've just found the keys to the kingdom.  When you are willing to get to know someone for who they are on the inside well then you've done a might bit more than most people will in life and your network of great people will grow because of it.

For me it was never about any of the outside appearance or how popular or cool someone might be.  No, it was always about who they were as a person and could we be compatible.  Call me a simpleton but did they lie, cheat or steal?  Did they go out of their way to show me kindness perhaps at a time when they didn't have to?  Could they get above or beyond their own label to let others who may not be like them inside their world?  Did they have a good heart and would they let me close enough to see it?

I believe life affords us many opportunities to meet so many incredible people.  Find the good ones and take the time to get to know them and you too will someday have people asking you how you got so lucky to have such a great network.  And you can tell them just as I do...there's no luck involved!  You don't need it when you surround yourself with good people.

Ripple On!!!


Thom Singer said...

Great advice.... but I have a question? What is (was?) "the woo woo clan"??? I was obviously sheltered from such things in high school.

Steve Harper aka Mr. Ripple said...

Free spirits? Come to think of it they were our version of hippies.

Anonymous said...

I very much enjoyed your post, Steve. It was a breath of fresh air that I needed. I recently met someone who seemed to be sincerely good-natured, intellectual, deep, and eloquent. I very easily feel for this person before really getting to know her. Upon learning more, I began to notice that most of the people she surrounded herself with were shallow at best, and cold/hateful at worst. It's gut-wrenching to feel such love for someone that you suspect is emotionless and uncaring. I've been trying to figure out what to do. Should I disassociate myself from her completely (avoid the negative influence); or should I continue the association (possibly providing a positive influence for her?) Any and all opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Steve Harper aka Mr. Ripple said...

Anonymous -

Great question.

My advice is to go with your gut. If you even think that you could have a positive affect on her life than stay the course. Be the kind of friend a friend would like to have. I bet you find she wakes up one day to realize how amazingly different you are to the rest of the bozos she associates herself with.

It's hard to say which is the right decision but I always try to lean towards the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt at least until they give you reason not to. Who knows...your belief in them may be exactly what they needed.

Not sure if that helps and a bit counter to my original post but I am following my gut in answering you tonight. Remember people don't cross our path by accident - there is always a reason. Your initial impressions of this person are probably still there - maybe just a bit soiled by the impressions of her "people." Keep digging and I bet you find the person you first met is still in there - just needing a friend to tell her it's okay to be different than "them." Keep me in the loop as to what happens. I'll be curious.

Ripple On!!!

Anonymous said...


Thanks so much for the encouraging words. I hope with all my heart that you're right. As I'm sure you can understand, I'm still reserved about letting myself get too close, especially because I'm yet unsure of the true nature of her character. I'll definitely keep your advice in mind and let you know what develops.

Thanks again for taking the time to lend some insight. It's very much appreciated.