Tuesday, May 5, 2015

13: Don't Lie Down with Dogs!

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great.” - Mark Twain

“If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.”  In other words, if you associate with bad people, you will acquire their faults. Research reveals that your level of success mirrors the level of success of those with whom you choose to associate.
Realize that you are – especially in the formative time of your college years – a chameleon.  You may have a strong internal compass, but you can also easily pick up external, cosmetic things from people very quickly. The truth is that humans are pack animals and the need for acceptance and love is hard-wired deep within our brains. People like people that they resemble. So, getting that acceptance and love almost always means practicing, at least on a subconscious level, some degree of conformity. 
How might this principle affect your future? Consider this - most people end up making a salary which is the average of their five closest friends.
Can you effect this change? If you skip a night of drinking with your friends to work on an assignment, you’ll lose some affection. If you’re eating a salad while your buddies are eating Buffalo wings, they may very well say negative things to you. But what matters more – your friends’ comments, or your own future?
If you want to become more successful and your current group is a bunch of do-nothings, your best chance of making something of your life comes from changing your peers. This is primal stuff, and it will work its way down to your core in time.
Here’s some advice from fellow students:
  • “Become friends with the right people.  Some people come to college to party, not to learn. They will bring you down with them.  Don’t get caught up in the wrong crowd.  Some people will lead you in the wrong direction. Don’t follow them.” 
  • “Choose your friends carefully.  Find some friends that will keep you on track.  Create study groups to stay on top of things in class.  Three brains are better than one.” 
Exercise:   Write down in your journal a list of your closest friends in college. How would you rate each of them as to the following traits?
  • Devotion to learning;
  • Smart decision-making; and
  • Ability to be successful in his or her chosen field.
Now ask yourself: Are these persons likely to enable you to be extremely successful? If they are not, find some new friends. What steps can you take to “not lie down with dogs” and surround yourself with others who are successful in their own right?  Set forth your observations in your journal.

Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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