2017-09-07 / Columns

‘You Will Get What You Will Tolerate’

Think Outside, No Box Needed
By Jim Plouffe

I believe it was the late Dr. Charlie Jarvis who first told me “that we become the things we think about, the books we read, and the people we associate with.” I think what he was saying is that those three things create our character, good or bad.

I came across this as a way to evaluate who you should associate with. I don’t know where I got the idea from, or I would give them credit for creating it, however, it is a good template to use to evaluate and categorize the characters you associate with and maybe examine more closely why you associate with them.

The first category is “Disassociate With.” You know who falls into this category. You know who is a bad influence on you, and if you don’t know, just ask your friends who they think is a bad influence on you. I don’t like to say it, but for some of us, some family members can be a bad influence. Don’t be afraid to accept the reality of that and make a plan to deal with it. My parents told me from the day I started my first business that I would never succeed; that I wasn’t smart enough to succeed in the business world, and that I should just get a real job. Needless to say, I never told my parents anything about what I was doing in my businesses because the only feedback I would get was, “You can’t do that.” Now I couldn’t disassociate with my parents, but I could make sure that I didn’t listen to their advice. I did, however, have to eventually disassociate myself with all of my hippie friends, and they were friends that I loved hanging out with. But hanging out with them wasn’t going to help me build my business; it was just going to waste my time.

The second category is “Limited Association.” Family members could easily fall into this category. We all come in contact with people that we have to deal with, even though we know they don’t have our best interest in mind or are interested in helping us succeed. There are many situations in business that fall into this category, and the key to success here is to not make an enemy. The reason that Henry Ford gave for firing Lee Iacocca as president of Ford Motor Company was “I just don’t like you.” In situations of limited association, it is important to keep your emotions and interactions as friendly as possible, without letting the interaction affect your character. Remember, some people are bitter and mad at almost everything.

The third category is “Expanded Association.” These are the people who are sincerely cheering for you and want you to succeed. They are the people you need to meet and make friends with. They are the people you can learn from, and more than likely they are smarter than you at the moment. The main reason I belong to the National Speakers Association is that it brings me in contact with a lot of brilliant people on almost any subject you can imagine. These are all people I want to expand my association with because they are thinkers, communicators, and thought leaders. They are people of character.

Life isn’t fair. You get from your associates what you tolerate, and what you tolerate is what you become. You are on your own when you choose what you tolerate and whom you associate with, but remember, it is your choice and your decision that makes you who you are. Like in the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” when the Knight guarding cup says, “You must choose, but choose wisely.” The same statement applies to you and your friends. You must choose, but choose wisely, or you may become someone that you don’t want to be.

What you are looking for is always out there to be found, right or wrong, good or bad.

Jim is a mission, management, and marketing expert. If you are unhappy with the status quo of your business, department, or personal achievement, call (906) 643-6643 or e-mail jim@ThinkOutsideNoBoxNeeded.co m. Jim is available for speeches and presentations to your company or organization and one-on-one executive coaching and business consulting.

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