Choose Your Friends, Choose Your Fate
When I was about 10 years, I got a t-shirt from my uncle and aunt that said "It's hard to soar with the eagles when you're hanging out with a bunch of turkeys." I really didn't know what it meant at the time, so I didn't think anything of it.
When I got into the Navy, I quickly realized that people made judgments about me based on the people I hung out with. I started out spending time with some hard working new sailors, so I was seen as a hard working sailor myself. Because of this perception, I was asked to join the base's Navy choir, something normally reserved for people that would be spending a long time on the base, and I was due to stay only 9 weeks. This also meant I wouldn't have to spend a lot of time standing duty, and I'd get a nicer room with a telephone and a better mattress with more privacy and carpeting. I realized quickly that, based on the company I kept, I was able to get out of doing duty every 6 days, was given a room that I didn't have to work as hard to keep clean. At that moment, I realized what that t-shirt meant.
At my first duty station, I was stationed with a good number of people who were getting discharged from the service for breaking one military rule or another. These were the only people my age, so I spent time hanging out with them. Several of my "friends" were eventually incarcerated for theft, drugs, or something else. I honestly knew nothing of any of their doings as I was working more often than not, yet I was grouped in with these undesirables and not trusted by many people for a good long time. In fact, I was so untrusted, when I had my skivvies and mail stolen while I was temporarily stationed on a ship (no, I don't know why anyone would want whitey-tighty Hanes underwear with Gerbyshak P R stenciled across the fly), the base security thought I had lost my mind and was just trying to get others into trouble...even though I saw a guy wearing my underwear while sitting in the lounge area!
Two different times in my life, handled in two very different ways, and it taught me a very valuable lesson: Hang out with undesirables, and you get treated undesirables. Hang out with people who are high speed, and you'll be high speed.
So I ask, who are you spending time with that's helping you increase your speed, and who's slowing you down?
Phil Gerbyshak leads a team of IT help desk professionals in Milwaukee, WI, and finds that sharing his knowledge is a crucial component in his success as a leader and as a person. Phil's personal philosophy is paraphrased from Tim Sanders' fantastic book Love is the Killer App: "Share your knowledge, your network, and your love. The rest will follow." Feel free to check out Phil's personal website at http://Gerbyshak.com or check out more random musings at his blog at http://makeitgreat.blogspot.com
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