Ellie made her first friend at the gym this week. Lying on play mats next to one another, the two ten-week old babies entertained themselves, cooing as they touched one another’s arms and looked around the room smiling in wonder. I think this is as close to having a best friend that you can get when you’re an infant.
I don’t know Ellie’s little friend’s name, but I do know that I care about the company she keeps, even as a little babe. The company we keep is more than important – it is critical to helping us become and develop into who we will ultimately be.
Throughout my childhood my mother was heavily involved in encouraging me to pick my friends wisely. As a new mom, I can now understand why my mom felt the way she did. I want to put a hedge of protection around Ellie. I want her friends to be the right friends and I want her friends to be the type of people who bring out the best in her.
Before I can worry about the friends she keeps, I first must set the example. To be the best mom I can be I need to be intentional about surrounding myself with the right people and putting myself in the right atmosphere for positive growth. It has been said that we become most like the five people with whom we spend the most amount of time, so as you consider your own “five,” or inner circle, consider these factors:
Avoid gossip and gossipers.
Gossip is a dangerous habit, even if you aren’t the person talking or technically gossiping, by even listening to gossip, you are participating in gossip. Strip your life from the negativity of gossip by refusing to tolerate it in any capacity. For me this includes eliminating some TV shows, People Magazine and certain radio stations from my daily consumption, and it also means that I have to choose to walk away from conversations that aren’t any of my business. By avoiding gossip and gossipers, you will create a cleaner emotional atmosphere for yourself and for others.
Your “right” people don’t have to be actually present in your life.
As you consider your inner circle be creative and open minded to who you permit admittance. The people you want to surround yourself with don’t necessarily have to be physically present in your life; some of your most significant influencers can be present simply through the books you read, the programs and podcasts you listen to or the mentors you follow. That being said, it’s imperative that you guard what you read, listen to and watch carefully, as what you allow into your mind ultimately ends up in your sphere of influence.
Pick people who bring out the best in you.
The people in my inner circle – the ones who have access to my heart and my most vulnerable self – are those who bring out the best in me. Some of these people challenge me to grow closer in my walk with Christ, some of them motivate me to new levels of athletic competition and some of them encourage me to be reader and to pour into the various facets of my personal development. Choose to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, more motivated than you and wiser than you and in turn you will grow in all of those arenas. Your inner circle should be filled with people who, by just being themselves, inspire you to rise up and be the absolute best version of yourself possible.
Be bold and proactive.
The tricky thing about selecting your five influencers is that it is often more difficult to make friends as adults than it was as children. Our lives are busy, our schedules jam-packed and our insecurities more pronounced. The thing that is essential is to remember that we become like those we spend time with, and so the friends you spend time with matter. As you assess your current friendships and relationships, you might find that you need to branch out and make new friends. Making new friends sometimes means making yourself uncomfortable. It’s hard to be the first person to say hello. It’s awkward to ask someone to be your friend and to initiate coffee dates or workout times…but when we do these things we are allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and vulnerability is the beginning of boldness.
Be the right person to attract the right people.
The most important thing to ask of yourself each and every day is to be the best version of yourself possible.
You don’t have to be perfect or to have honed all of your positive character traits to be the best you can be. We are all works in process. Every day is an opportunity to rise up and be the best us we can be that day. Spend less time worrying about who and how other people are and instead focus on daily self-improvement and growth. To attract the right people into your life – the right friends, the right jobs and co-workers, the right relationships – you have to be the right person. The only way to be the right person is to be the best you that you can be.