“Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
– George Washington (1732 – 1799) US Statesman.
It was true in the sixth grade and it’s true now. You are who your friends are.
Not exactly of course, but close enough. The choice of people you associate with is one of the most fundamental determinants of the type of person you’ll be.
Think back to high school. Do you remember any genius jocks who were the lead in the school play but also smoked at lunch and stole cars to joyride in? Not likely.
Now think about your workplace. Rarely are there two lunch tables both split 50% between heads down engineers and smooth-talking field salespeople. Hardcore coders aren’t usually meeting up with the creative ad team for happy hour (they’re over enjoying their own cocktails at Club Syntax).
Now think about your personal group of friends. This is where the widest variety of personalities is seen but if you host a weekly book club, it’s not likely that Official NASCAR Trivia is on your required reading list.
In smaller schools, communities or companies, there is a greater likelyhood for overlap but once the group gets large enough, groups form.
So why does this matter?
If you have a child in school, getting to know their friends is way more important than making sure their biology paper is complete.
At work, mix it up a little. Sit with the engineers at lunch, or tag along to happy hour with the creatives. You’ll learn something.
For anyone, more importantly than running with ‘the crowd’, surround yourself with people that motivate and inspire you. If you’re always being challenged, in a good way, the crowd will pull you up to realize your full potential.