People. Persons. Individuals. Men. Women. Boys. Girls. Coaches. Mentors. Parents. Grandparents. Friends. Teachers. Students. Employers. Employees.
A quote I have heard attributed to Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is:
In five years you will be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.
The reason I love that quote is because it implies that being the same person you are today in five years is not a good thing. You ought to be more and better than you are today. You ought be learning, growing, and evolving.
As an avid reader of great books, I wholeheartedly concur with his take on books. Books have transformed my thinking and behaviors.
His statement about people, though, is also very powerful. Humans are social beings. We view those who cannot get along with others as “anti-social,” and it is seen as a negative thing. In free societies we have the choice about who we will socialize with, how deeply we will allow them to get involved in our lives, and how we will let them influence our thinking and actions.
Human associations and networks can be very powerful. This is the reason successful people make it a priority to know and interact with other successful people. The great aviator, Charles Lindbergh, was friends with Igor Sikorsky. Lindbergh was a record-breaking pilot, and Sikorsky developed the first commercially viable helicopter. They spent time together because they had a common interest and could help each other.
Conversely, the negative power of human association can be seen in gangs and organized crime where human sociability is turned against the pursuit and attainment of what is positive and productive. What this underscores is the truth that “evil companions corrupt good morals.” If you spend your time with people who are engaged in these types of activities, your life will turn out to be “nasty, brutish, and short.”
On the other hand if you will spend your time with positive, successful, ethical people, you will benefit. If you determine to become one of those positive, successful, ethical persons, you can in turn help all of those who choose to interact with you.
I have been blessed to have many people who have graced my life and helped me become a better person than I was when I first met them. I was blessed with wonderful parents and grandparents who loved and nurtured me. Lifelong friends like Margot and David have grown up with me and have shared their understanding of the world as they have encountered it. My brother and sister are also big influences in my life.
Coach Jimmy, Coach Richard, Coach Al, Jim, Jeanette, Lonnie, Jan, Brian, Max, Foy, Chris, and Sam are all people who have helped me be who I am today. Yearbook advisors Nancy and Barbara, and speech teacher Mary have also influenced me powerfully. I have allowed them to change me and to contribute to my life. I encourage you to do the same. I remain open to new people who can help me and who I can help. It is exciting to see who nexts enters my life. Our wonderful neighbors Rudy and Veanne have improved us as we have gotten to know them. Most recently my life has been improved by my octogenarian friend Bill and his wife Ann. What awesome people who are contributing to me.
Make no mistake, though. I am careful who I let in. Not everyone who wants “in” wants to influence me the right way. Their motives are less than sincere, and they will drag me down if I let them in. I am very picky. I try to be sure their life reflects the values I want to embrace.
Now, back to books. In reality what are books? They are the products of people. I do not know Dave Ramsey personally, but in a way I do know him. I have met him and had him sign a book, but that is not how I know him. I know him because I have read his books. He has shared his thinking and his mind with me on the written page. His words and thoughts have changed both my thinking and my behavior. A more powerful way to state this is that his books have allowed me to change both my thinking and my behavior. A book cannot make me do anything. So, a book is really still just people sharing their knowledge and thinking.
It is awesome to think that I have been influenced by hundreds of other men and women that I have never met (and many who are no longer on this earth) as I have read their words in their books. It is exciting to think of how many books there still are to read!
So, do you have as part of your Forward Story the purposeful inclusion of quality people and books in your life? If not, you will be the same person in five years that you are today.
That would not be a good thing.