I’m going to tell you why I was such a failure for so much of my youth and maybe you could figure it out from the story that I’m about to tell you. A friend of mine through high school was an absolute rebel, troublemaker thief and that eventually a drug addict through the end of high school. I spent as much time with him as I probably spent with anybody else and it’s so often happens, high school ends. We go our separate ways. I started dating a girl pretty seriously right after that and we didn’t see each other so much anymore. One of the reasons why was he was in prison, I believe it was for stealing a car, so he got out of prison and I still ran in circles with a lot of the same people, so I would hear the updates and then I got the word that he was added again.
He was out of prison. He was looking to score some drugs, they need some money and one evening he was hanging out at some strip mall lurking in the dark and waiting and a woman came out of a drug store and he robbed her and at some point as he was trying to grab her purse, they came face to face with each other and I’m not sure the details, but we wound up knocking her down, running away with their purse and all of her stuff. And about an hour later he was back in prison. So how did they catch him so fast? This is the funny part. They caught them because of all the people that he could have chose to Rob. He robbed a police sketch artist. So she immediately went back to the station, drew up a clear as day picture, perfect description of his face and the police knew exactly who it was.
It probably before he even had the chance to count his money, he was back in prison and now for a longer period of time. Now to let you know that this is a person that I spent a lot of time with during high school. Mike, give you an invitation of why I was such a loser during all those years. Now, it wasn’t his fault that was his life. It was my fault because I chose to hang out with him and not only hang out with him, hang out with him consistently. And I remember one time my uncle Richard getting on me about the people I was choosing to hang around with and I was defending it and saying it’s not that bad. And he warned me that that’s who I would become and I didn’t believe it. And he said to me something to the effect of, show me who you hang around with and I’m going to show you who you are.
And I had to start thinking maybe there’s some truth in that. My parents tried telling me that all the time. But when you’re a teenager, often your parents are the last people you want to hear from or take advice from. So to have my uncle say that and some bosses that I had in my life, it started to seep in and I start at that point to change my friends. And I’m not saying at all that this is an easy thing to do, especially when you’re already running with the crowd. But what I noticed is I went through a bad period and then I went through kind of a purgatory where I wasn’t hanging out with bad people anymore, but at the same time they weren’t doing very much. They were just doing. And once I started realizing I could do a whole lot more with my life, I have a lot more that I want to achieve and I want to try to do.
I started to realize that I needed to hang around with different people that had those types of goals. And then slowly but surely the shift started happening and the quality of the people in my life just started changing. I was now hanging out with people that were generous as opposed to if you, Oh, just making fun of each other all the time. And instead of hanging out with people that were putting you down for trying to do stuff, I started hanging out with people that were encouraging me and pushing me to do more. And then almost like a time warp, you find yourself back in those situations with the old friends and you think it’s going to be like old times and fun and you realize this isn’t fun anymore. And sometimes old friends are exactly that. Old friends, they’re not your new friends. And cutting away from that at times was hard because I would get some pushback.
And around the time I went away to college at Ohio, I had a friend, a longterm friend say to me, you know, you’re not who you used to be. And it was said in kind of a put down, insulting way. And the natural instinct might be like, no, I’m still the same person. And I looked them straight in the eye. I said, of course I’m not the person I used to be. Why would I work so hard to change just to be the person that I used to be? And when I said that I can tell he didn’t get it, but also as I said it, I could really tell that I did and it was within that time period that I realized that a lot of those friendships needed to go away because by continuing in those conversations, by continuing to spend time with people that didn’t have dreams and goals that lined up with mine, it wasn’t just wasting time.
It was actually hurting me. It’s like we talked about the controlled burn podcast episode. It was kind of the same thing here. I needed to clear out space to make room for other opportunities and what happened when I cleared what to me would be negativity out of my life. Time and opportunity for new friendship, new deliberate friendships, friendships with people that were doing stuff that were positive, that were helpful, that were generous. The type of people that I never hung around with in high school or in my youth. I started hanging out with these type of people and to be quite honest, in the beginning it was actually uncomfortable cause I kept feeling like what’s their angle? Why are they being so nice? They’re probably just looking to get something. And that was the internal dialogue that I had with myself, but they seem to have all the success and they seem to have great relationships and people weren’t talking about them behind their back and then being nice when they showed up, they were just nice people and there’s the pendulum keeps swinging.
These people went out of their way to help and they connected me with other people and they brought success to my life and I started telling myself, I want to be like these people. And the more I hung around with them, the more I realized that I wasn’t. I was trying, but I still had a lot of the same mindset that I used to have. So I talk a lot about not keeping score well, I was a very good scorekeeper for a good part of my life. I would keep track of what people did or what they didn’t do. I’d have expectations for what they should be doing or what they shouldn’t be doing. But it was ironic because I didn’t have the same expectations for myself. And it’s the reason why I talk so much about generosity because it is not inherent within me.
This is something that I daily have to learn and practice and think about because when you’re nothing but internally selfish through the first half of your life, it takes work to change that and I often wonder what would it be like if I chose a different crowd when I was younger? What if at 13 years old, if somebody to me, which somebody might have, tell me who you hang out with and I’ll tell you who you are, what would’ve happened if I listened to that? Then no, I’m not a revisionist history type of person and I don’t want to go back in time and change things. I’ve seen back to the future and what it can do, but my hope and recording this is that not only do I keep getting better and I challenge myself, but maybe it gets some people that thought like me to maybe think a little differently. They teach you a lot of things in school. These. They try to, we had math and science, history, social studies, art, but maybe they should have had a class called choose better friends cause that’s the one that I really needed. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.