We Are The Company We Keep
Most of us have heard that adage… probably from our parents as we were growing up. I know I did. Back in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – parents wanted their children to surround themselves with friends of sound moral, ethical, and spiritual values. You know, those girls and boys who were ‘nice’ and did not ‘color outside the lines.’ For this, and so many other things, I am grateful to my parents. I was nurtured and supported by friends who did share our values – good grades, involvement in church, contribution in many student body and other activities….the list is vast. This is one of the greatest pieces of advice I was steeped in – and that I fully and whole-heartedly embraced at an early age. I, for one, have learned so much about myself by immersing myself with folks whom I THOUGHT shared my values, only to learn they did not. AND I have learned equally as much by those that did share my values and held me accountable to those values over the course of our lives and friendship.
So, is this relevant today? I say a RESOUNDING – YES (and not necessarily for the reasons you may suspect)! So… what and how does this ‘show up’ in adult and professional life. Well… I have an entire 3rd book coming out highlighting these stories and lessons. Yet, a few brief and salient thoughts:
- Surround yourself with people who SEE you for who you really are, who believe in you and who want only the BEST for you. They support without jealously or competitive spirit. They want you to reach your potential and will do all they can to insure this happens. They are not afraid to give constructive feedback and to hold you accountable – with the sole intention of helping YOU be the best YOU can be. When you meet them – you will know. Grab on. Nurture THEM. Love THEM. They are your soul (and sole) brothers and sisters and your life-support system.
- When we find ourselves in a group of charlatans – wake up and see folks for who they really are. As Maya Angelou has so wisely shared: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” So, in the spirit of full transparency, I have not mastered this art. I often find myself in a group of individuals whom I want to believe are different than they appear; only to become victim to their less than ‘above board’ antics, their passive aggressive ‘mean girl’ behavior, and their attempts to taint perspectives based on their own insecurities. When your inner self, your INTUITION, your GUT whispers to you… ‘these folks don’t seem real… something is amiss,’ LISTEN to your VOICE. Stop giving in to the ‘surely they would not be that way’ rationalization. Every single time I have done this – I have been hurt, betrayed, and worse.
- Your AUTHENTIC vibe ultimately will attract your tribe. YES – that WILL and DOES happen. Yet, the only way you will find your tribe is to be 100% true to you. That means showing your true self – warts and all. Sharing your fears, your vulnerabilities, your joys, your beliefs, your ambitions, your loves, your insecurities, etc. etc.… and letting folks SEE the REAL you. Not the ‘you’ you want them to see… let them see, learn, embrace, and appreciate the WHOLE you. Those that don’t ‘get you,’ ‘embrace you,” and ‘let you BE you,’ are not your tribe. And those that do – ARE!! WOWZA – when we find these folks – we have hit the lotto. And yes… I am not just talking about our personal tribe… I am talking about our professional tribe, too. Be brave. Be open, because what I have learned is that my ‘tribe’ has come from the most unexpected places. So ‘lean in,’ open your heart and mind, open the door to new relationships… it is astounding the gifts that will be revealed.
We are indeed the company we keep. Not for ‘optics’ purposes (though that, too, has a chapter and verse not to be covered in this article)… YET, for the purpose of living a full, robust, and most authentic life supported by the COMPANY we CHOOSE.
Other articles you may be interested in:
- Women and Friendships: a Top Priority by Alicia Morgan
- Initiate, Invest and Engage by Kristin Kaufman
- Your Journey to Your Why – It’s Not Always Pretty and Fun! by Christie M Eckler, LMSW, CFRE
- Finding Your Voice And Give Yourself Permission to Use It by Judy Hoberman